Saturday, August 28, 2010

First Honey Extraction

Success!  We completed our first honey harvest today.  The process went fairly smoothly.  There were a few wrinkles and we learned some things, but overall I'd have to say it went well.  Here is a video on YouTube that tells the basics.
We did use the bee escape yesterday, but that proved less successful than I had hoped.  There were fewer bees, but since I was hoping for NO bees in the honey super, I was disappointed.  Maybe next year I will leave it on for two days.  We brushed off the remaining bees.  I did leave two of the frames in the 9 frame super that were not filled out, but the other 7 were beautiful, nicely capped.  There were few cells that contained honey that were not capped.  We put them in a big container, with lid, after removing the bees and took them to the barn for processing.
We used a big plastic bin with a homemade board attached and a long bread knife for the uncapping.  It worked very well, and we wondered why the need to buy expensive, heated knives.  We also used an antique ice pick for the capping scratcher, and it worked pretty well though I'd like to have a genuine one.
Kathy is beginning to remove the white cappings off a perfectly drawn out , honey-filled frame.   She will do both sides of the frame.

Kathy did the uncapping and I did the spinning in the nice, old two frame hand cranker that our friends, Jim and Beth, loaned to us.  It worked very well, though a weld is failing at the bottom of the spigot and we will need to do something about that since it creates a small leak.  Other than that, it worked perfectly, fully pulling the honey from the comb.  We worked in about 80 degree temperatures, and the honey flowed just fine.
Once finished extracting, we put the honey through filters into a white bucket with a spigot, then Kathy filled jars.  The cappings were also put into the filter and are sitting overnight to finish draining, though we won't get more than several ounces from that at this point.
Here is a photo of the finished product.  In all, we probably harvested about two gallons of very sweet, clear, delicious honey.  We were pretty happy with this and excited about prospects for next year.  I set the equipment out for the bees and at dusk there was still a cloud of excited bees cleaning up everything, including little spills in the barn since I neglected to pull the big door down again.  Very fun.

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