Are prickly bees still as sweet?

August 12, 2011 | By | Comments (2)


Our bees have been exceptionally busy, socking away a jumbo-size nectar flow during the month of July. Two hives—Aurora and Briar Rose—filled a total of two and a half honey supers. That’s 26 frames of honey, or, about 12 gallons of unfiltered honey in a little more than 4 weeks.

But the biggest surprise of all was our split from Aurora and Flora, Briar Rose.

There’s no doubt that this hive is prolific. In July we harvested a full honey super and replaced the drawn out comb with empty foundation. By August, she’d drawn out new comb and filled out the entire super with beautiful capped honey!

But we’ve come to realize that the bees of Briar Rose live up to the prickly part of their name; this hive is as defensive a hive as we’ve ever had. The bees started complaining in a low, angry growl the minute we broke the weird sticky red propolis seal at the top of the hive. (You can see how thick the propolis was in the photo below.)


 While we harvested the frames of honey, bees swarmed furiously, throwing their small bodies at our veils and bonking us repeatedly, trying to sting our gloves, and searching for any entrance into our suits. Fortunately, we were well prepared, with suits well sealed.

We stuffed the entrance with grass and some sticks to reduce the amount of territory they had to defend in case bees from other hives smelled the open honey and came buzzing over to rob Briar Rose. But I don’t think that the Briar Rose bees needed that much help.The way they swarmed out of the hive was daunting.



Next came the heavy work of uncapping and extracting all that honey. Editorial assistant and beekeeper Haley Minick donned an apron (no bee suit needed for this part of the job) and helped scrape the cappings off the honeycomb.



We used the extractor in the background to spin a total of 36 (10 June frames from Briar Rose + the 26 in July) beautiful super frames of capped honey. The honey is still draining through our micron filters, but it looks like we could get close to ten gallons of summer honey. Yum yum!


  1. Hortencia Sonstroem

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  2. Skot Colacicco

    Thats gorgeous! I’ve just started my first hive earlier this year. Won’t be able to harvest honey until next year (they spent most of the time drawing comb, as I had nothing but foundation).

    I’ve found that they have been super aggressive during inspections. More so than I remember when I worked with other hives in the past.

    I guess each hive has a different personality, just like people.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:39 pm

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