Friday, July 26, 2013

Beekeeping: Collecting Honey for the First Time

Wow, That's a lot of honey! That's what my son said as we looked in the hive. We went out just to inspect the hive. To be honest, we haven't been inspecting on the regular schedule that we should have been. Just a few weeks ago we added the two shallow honey supers because the hive was just full of bees. I got nervous that they would swarm up because they were running out of room.

During this inspection we noticed that they hadn't drawn any comb in the honey supers. They are hanging out up there like a little club house, but no comb. When I removed the two supers and looked
down into the top brood box I noticed that the outside frames were very full, but I wasn't sure what they were full of. Well, it didn't take but a couple of seconds after pulling one of them up to recognize that it was capped honey! Beautiful! My son also said "It's like seeing real gold for the first time!". I agreed with him.

Unfortunately I haven't found a good way to handle the bee frames and the camera at the same time so I don't have any good shots of the honey. However you can see here the fullness of the hive.





What I really wish I would have taken pictures of is the part where I decided to do the honey extraction. I do not have an extractor. I don't have a dedicated space to work with honey. I really am/was completely unprepared. I'm not even sure if it was a good idea to take honey at all, but I decided to extract two and a half frames. 

Here was my process. I took three of the outside frames from the top brooder. The inside frames had a mix of brood and honey. The three that I chose to extract were almost completely filled with capped honey. Once I removed the frames I asked my son to run up to the house to retrieve a large plastic bowl. While he was running I was brushing the bees off of one of the frames. Like a good son, he returned driving the golf cart. This was smart because it has a platform on the back that we could use as a table. 

With my son holding the bowl steady, I used the flat end of my hive tool to scrap the honey off the frame into the bowl. Unfortunately some bees got into the bowl as well. Despite our efforts to free them, there were a few casualties.

The frames that were scraped were returned to the hive. I figured they would clean them up and reuse the honey that was left over. The hive was stacked back up and we headed to the kitchen to strain the honey.

Again, we really didn't know what we were doing. All the honey was poured through the pasta strainer to remove the comb, bees, beetles and wax caps. This was giving us a nice big bowl of beautiful golden honey, but it wasn't all coming out of the wax comb. Because of this we placed all the strained comb back in the bowl, crushed it and strained it a second time. Perfect!

Here are a few pics of that process.




This was a little messy, but it seemed to be working fine. I ended up with five pints of beautiful wonderful golden sweet honey. Take a look at my trophies :)




This method worked this time, but in the future (when, hopefully, I have learned a bit more) I would like to be a little more proper with process. I'm not sure what that means exactly right now, but I'll keep reading, watching and listening. Hopefully my bees will forgive my ignorance and stick around long enough to get this right :)

Thanks for taking the time to read my story!


Post a Comment