Interested to know what experiences people have had with different systems and where they are at now.
Crush and Cut ?
Cut Comb ? anyone tried the bee o pac or Ross Rounds ?
Extractors - home made, good makes of equipment ? What size are you using and what number of hives do you have ?
What are you doing with your wax, solar melter ?
Years ago,when I got my first hive,I made a press from two boards hinged together at one end.The boards were cut from 1 x 8's and were made like a paddle.I laid a medium frame on one of the boards and cut around the inside.Remove the wooden frame and press the two boards together.It is a LOT more work than an extractor but it does work.
edited to add...I still use the solar wax melter.They are easy to put together and work as well as anything.In my climate there is always plenty of sunshine.
I cut the caps off with a big bread knife and then scraped the honey out with a rubber spatula. It was messy and sticky but worked for the one hive that we harvested. I was amazed how fast the bees cleaned the frames when we put them back in.
Both my hives made it through the winter strong and are all over the place this week with the sunshine. I'm making maple syrup in the back yard and have to keep them out of the sap.
The backyard hive link is great, it has some great pictures to guide you through the process. I also thought the hives they sell are rather stimulating. I also liked the idea of foundationless frames. Thanks, Chris.
I ended up making my own extractor this winter out of a 55 gallon drum, two bicylce wheels and attaching an old electric motor. It will extract 9 medium frames radially and works great. I can take some pictures of it if you are interested. This was my first year beekeeping, started with 2 packages and went into winter with five hives, but only one has survived the Michigan winter. I was saving some frames for the spring to feed the bee's, but since they didn't make it I extracted over 20lbs of honey. The one that survived was in my porch with a tube going outside, not recommended by many beekeepers but it seemed to keep this hive alive. I use it occasionaly for stinging myself for a bad back and elbow.
If Jylgaskin has any recommedations on how to overwinter hives in MI, it would be greatly appreciated. All my hives had several frames of honey left (20 - 40lbs each), but they still didn't make it.
Both mine made it through fine. I built a box a bit bigger than the hive out of blue board and set it over the hive. There was an opening that lined up with the entrance to the hive. It was just enough to insulate them and we had some 20 below nights. I left my hives with a few extra frames of honey and reduced the overal size of the hive as much as possible by removing all but the hive bodies and one super.
Mine also got some maple syrup this spring, but I don't know if that did anything special.
We did loose one hive of three last winter, but it had no queen anyway.
Is that the blue styrofoam? What did you do for ventilation when putting the blue board around the hives? I have screen bottom boards, but covered them up for the winter. I wish I would have decreased the size of the hive boxes as well.
Go to mdasplitter.com and read Mel's viewpoint on hive splits and breaking the mite cycle. He helped me last year and I am going to a class that he is putting on this spring. I'm not sure if I did things wrong with what he recommends or if part of it has to deal with the genetics of the bee's.
I just put the styrofoam blue board together with duct tape. There was at least a 2 inch airspace all around the hive and set it over the hive. My hives have solid bottoms, but sit on wooden pallets, so there was some ventelation there too. I took the boxes off as soon as we had a few warm days so the sun could warm the hives. It must have worked out as every warm day since my crocus have been loaded with bees. I put out a few dishes of grape jelly (I somehow ended up with lots of grape jelly this year) and they have been all over that.
Here is a picture of the inside, it will extract 9 medium frames at a time. Used a 55 gallon drum and and two bicycle rims, cut the spokes out of the top rim after welding three braces and then put clips on where the spokes lined up with the bottom. Made it much easier to load the frames without the spokes in the way on top. Also tacked a wire around the bottom rim to hold the the frames.