Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the catastrophic loss of honeybees in the United States. Beekeepers are leaving the business in droves due to their inability to keep bees alive as well as the financial burden of continually having to start over with new colonies. I’ll admit, we’ve experienced a lot of ups and downs in the few short years we’ve been doing this, but for us it’s an important cause. Our honey crop was very small this year. We’re not completely sure why, but some have suggested the very rainy spring and early summer played a role. It is what it is and we feel very fortunate to have enough honey to last us until next year with a little left over for family and friends. Here are some pics of the harvest including an explanation of each step.
Step One: Remove all the “supers” from the hives. These boxes are added in the spring and removed in the fall.
Step Two: Remove the frames of honey from the supers. This picture shows a frame full of capped honey. Once the bees fill all the comb, they put a layer of wax over the top to seal it.
Step Three: Uncap the honey. We use this tool to scrape open the cells.
Step Four: Place the frames into the extractor. This is a circular machine that uses centrifugal force to remove the honey from the frames.
The honey comes out of the extractor here and the straining process begins to remove all the little bits of wax.
Step Five: The honey is strained through cheesecloth, run through a spigot, and bottled! Don’t worry, all our machines and equipment are washed thoroughly before use.
It’s pretty much impossible to keep the bees away during the extraction process. There are literally thousands flying all around us. You don’t really have to worry about getting stung, but I did have a bee land in my hood and crawl into my shirt. It couldn’t get out and I got stung on the back of the shoulder. We have a couple of great helpers! Jack is using a rubber scraper to draw all the strained honey down to the spigot and Lucy is bottling it up. Take a peak at the window in the background. See all those bees!
During the extraction process, one of the wooden frames broke apart inside the extracting machine. It was full of honey that we didn’t want to go to waste. We set it all over by our hives and within a few hours the bees had completely cleaned out all the honey and taken it back to their hives.
Me and my honey as we were just finishing up for the day.