Do you remember this post?
Well last fall we got our first honey harvest! It was a very exciting day! Here are supers filled with frames of honey capped by the bees. Kent worked outdoors to brush bees from the frames and then handed them quickly through the kitchen door to me where I loaded the supers back up with the frames. We managed to get the honey laden frames into the house without bringing in any bees.
The caps have to be removed to extract the honey, so first Kent used a special tool - like a tiny rake with needle sharp points. The idea is to just slide it under the wax and lift if off of the honey filled cells.
It takes a light but firm touch to capture the beeswax while leaving the honey behind. The wax will be saved and used for other applications.
We borrowed an extractor from a friend and set up shop in the kitchen.
Here is a frame filled with honey and ready for the extractor.
They are placed in the extractor on end, two at a time. The honey cells are on both sides of the frames so you spin some honey out of one side, flip them, spin some from that side, and go back to the first side, etc. That way you don't put too much stress on the foundation wax in the center of the frame.
I look ridiculously happy to be cranking the extractor. Like I said, it was a very exciting day for us.
After the centrifugal force has extracted the honey from the frames, we drained the honey out the spigot at the bottom and into containers. At this point there some small bits of wax and whatnot in the honey.
We did a coarse filtering through a stainless steel seive to remove the largest of the debris but we are not interested in any serious filtration. This is the real thing and it doesn't get much better than this!
It was a very sticky process, I couldn't believe the places we seemed to find honey when we were done. Every surface in the kitchen seemed to be a bit tacky. Including ourselves. We have plans for the near future construction of an all-purpose building that will serve as a honey extraction, syrup making, etc. facility. For now, we'll do it indoors because the bees see us as thieves and go all out to "retrieve" their honey.
Which actually comes in really handy when you are ready to clean up. We found that all we had to do was take the sticky containers and tools out near the hives and leave them for a day. The bees reclaimed every last drop that would have been washed down the sink and left everything practically sparkling clean.
Here's a link to an interesting article my brother found about the state of honey available for purchase in stores. Give it a read and then give your local beekeeper a hug!
I think I'll go hug mine right now.