Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 09- Honey harvest

Honey harvest time

This is one on the many honey combs

August is pretty much the end of the season and time to harvest honey.
I bough a triangle escape board to use to separate the bees from the top box.
 My bees went from just one box to three! The bottom box is the brooding box and the top boxes are where the honey is collected. Rule of thumb is to take only 40% of the honey, you want to leave your bees with enough honey for the winter.
The idea is to have the bees out of the top box, the one I was going to remove for honey harvest. I  placed the triangle escape board in between boxes and somehow it takes the bees 48 hours to figure out how to get back up. They can go down from the top box to the bottom of the hive where they exit but they can't come back up because their natural instinct is always to turn right so when trying to get back up to the honey chamber they can't because the triangle has all left turns. There is a window of opportunity for getting the honey box free of bees before they figure out the maze.
I wasn't sure this was going to work, but when I went to check, I was amazed, there were only about 5 bees which I carefully removed.
It was so easy to take the box that I felt really bad for the bees, I was a total dictator, tricking and stealing from them...But I was also so excited- I had a so much honey!!!

However, there was still a lot of work to be done.
I borrowed a centrifugal honey extractor from a co-worker and set it up int my kitchen to do the work

This thin knife is the main tool

So first thing to do is take out one frame from the box

Then very carefully I cut the thin layer of wax that cover the honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers that they then regurgitate and this become honey but it takes a while to solidify. Once it is honey consistency the bees cap it with the wax that they make. Which is the same nectar but it has gone through a longer regurgitating process and it becomes wax.

Here you can see  the cells full of honey after I cut the capping wax

At that point I placed the frames (3 at a time) into the centrifugal machine

I used this tray as I uncapped because a lot of honey dripped and I didn't wanted to waste any. I also wanted to collect the wax for candles

I poured all of that into the filtering, it is a double strainer. First one with bigger holes and second one is really fine, that way honey is completely free of wax or other particles

Once I was done with the extraction and all the honey was collected in the container, I filtered it

And this is how that looked. It was really exciting and the smell of the honey and the wax was truly intoxicating and delicious.
My kitchen, my jeans and my fingers were sticky with honey and propolis, which  is a very sticky resinous mixture that bees make to cover up small gaps on the hive, but I didn't care the honey was amazing and I was loving the process.
After all the filtering I got about 1 gallon of honey- not bad for a new hive started late in the season that only worked for about 4 months.
I love being a bee keeper and I'm looking forward to learning a lot more from my bees.

No comments: