Did you realise your beehive was a multi product factory?
We all think of harvesting honey and honeycomb* and beeswax BUT there are also other goodies!
Did you know?
Propolis is an essential substance in the life of the hive that bees use for many purposes:
- control of the flight hole opening according to climatic variation
- weather proofing the hive by blocking holes to insulate against wind and rain
- coating the interior walls of the hive to remove irregularities
- as a disinfectant, spreading a very thin film inside the cells before the queen comes to lay
- mixed with wax and used to "embalm" small animals or insects which have been killed by the bees but are too large for the bees to remove.
To harvest propolis:
Depending on the breed bees can produce more than 300g per year. The beekeeper can use several methods -
- Simply scrape queen excluder, undersides of hive mats and feeders, interior walls of hives (excluding bottom trays which are too dirty). Unfortunately the propolis obtained this way is full of impurities and wood debris.
- Use a propolis mats. Sit on top of the super and after a while the bees will have closed up the grid holes with propolis deposits. This is easily collected by freezing the mat then rolling it to loosen the deposits. If you wish to easily produce a powder then put the propolis fragments through a coffee grinder while still very cold. Store in light proof containers away from heat.
Pollen - Did you know?
Pollen is the main source of nutrition for the larvae. It provides the protein necessary for them to mature. Because pollen is rich in protein, it can be harvested, dried and consumed by us. Fix a pollen trap at the entrance of your hive for a couple of weeks in the pollen season to easily collect pollen. However, do not leave on for longer at a time. This ensures bees can collect enough for their own needs.
Hive World sells two systems for making honeycomb:
- A wooden 3/4 depth frame with 8 x 250g capacity plastic box units to place in your ordinary supers or full depth with 12 x 250g units.
- The English section rack with wooden comb cases to place on your super.
Both of these systems use replaceable cases for your comb, meaning you can re-use your frames year after year.