Sunday, September 06, 2015

Honey Harvesting

Yesterday for the first time since 2008, we actually harvested our own honey.
Frames of honey, honey extractor all ready
In 2009, we had an attack of mice which destroyed the hives. (Mouseguards not on.) We acquired another hive BUT the cold winter was no good for them. Then 2011 had a cold Spring and 2012 was another cold Spring. I had nearly given up when we decided one last time in 2014 and got some bees. We didn't take off any honey.
BUT this year, we have honey! Hooray. About 40 lbs worth.
I put the Porter bee escapes on on Friday to clear the supers where the honey is stored. Then early, early on Saturday morning before the bees were up, I  went out and retrieved the supers.
One or two bees remained in the supers and were easily brushed off.
At that time in the morning, the bees are not flying. This makes it so much easier and likelihood of getting stung is much decreased.
Then I set up the honey extractor -- which is hand cranked. The wax cappings are taken off to reveal the honey and the frame is put in the extractor. Then the frames are spun round and round. Centrifugal force gets the honey out.
Honey from the extractor pours into the filter
It works well except if there is a high proportion of heather honey. Heather honey is like jelly and very hard to extract. The best way I have found is to crush the frames and melt them -- releasing the honey. The honey melts at a lower temp than the wax. Thankfully though my youngest son has strong arms and the honey was all spun out.
This year's honey is relatively pale. Heather honey also tends to be more amber/caramel in colour. I suspect there is fuchsia. I know there is thistle in there. It tastes absolutely wonderful.
After being extracted, the honey gets filtered to get rid of the wax/dead bees etc. I also put the cappings in and allow them to drain.
Once filtered the honey is bottled.
Heathcliff inspects the jars of honey
Other than bottling  a couple of bottles for my youngest son to take back to uni with him, I am just waiting for the honey to drip through.
The spun supers are put back on the hives so that the bees can clean them out. The bees hate wasting any honey. They will clean everything. It is sort of amazing.
The bees still have time to forage and rebuild their stores. I will give them some Apiguard as a tonic/guard against varroa. And then they will be shut up for the winter.
In Feb time they will be fed on fondant and the cycle will be gin again.

No comments: