Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sweet days

We've been extracting and processing honey as of late. I haven't done a grand tally yet, but I got perhaps 110 pounds this year. Less than I'd hoped for, but I'm back down to two hives from four after splitting two into four last May. I had queen issues, as did some other beekeepers I know. The mysteries of the hive!

Here's Gordon scraping the wax cappings off a frame of honey. He is doing it over our uncapping tank, which has a filter over the bottom container. The filter catches the wax, and the honey drains through.

It's hard not to smile when you're surrounded by sweet stuff!

After the frames of honey are uncapped, they go into the extractor. The honey will be thrown out of the frames by centrifugal force. This sucker is bolted to the concrete floor, to stop it from walking its way across the garage when it's switched on!

The white frame fell out of its tracks and had to be adjusted. No harm done.

As you can see...

...I am not good at following instructions!

Precautions schmecautions! But I swear I just lifted the lid for a quick pic or two, and I didn't put any body parts anywhere near the interior of the drum. Nobody wants bits of fingers in their jar of honey!

Spin spin spin!

Next the beautiful golden goodness came out of the honey gate at the bottom of the extractor and flowed into a bucket. Later, I strained the honey through a filter to get out any wax bits and bee body parts.

I didn't get a photo of it, but at one point a honeybee got into the garage and headed straight for the draining honey. She sat next to it, frantically licking up honey from the stream! No doubt she thought she'd found honey heaven. I removed her to the outside world before she could fall in the bucket and meet a sticky end.

After the honey is strained, it goes into jars:

Here we have two different batches. The bottom one came from the first super (shallow hive box in which you place the frames  in which you want the bees to store honey.) The top one came from the second super I extracted from. Last year, the lightest honey (with lots of basswood nectar) came from the first box. This year, I don't know what's going on but it all tastes awfully good!

Hopefully my two hives will make it through the coming winter and we will try to expand the hives again next spring. For now, I'm enjoying fresh honey with my morning fruit and yogurt!

Poor Gordon got stung on the foot yesterday in a freak bee accident. One was drowing in the duck pool, and when Gordon emptied the duck pool to put in fresh water, some old water and the unfortunate bee sloshed into Gordon's rubber boot. Said bee then took her stinger to Gordon's foot! Ouch!

Beehive yourselves out there! Ho ho ho.


  1. You are all over the blogosphere tonight. I just came from Ronna's blog. The honey here looks so delicious. I love watching you two work. ;-)

  2. Gorgeous golden goodness! So jealous!

  3. Deb, I had a great day with Ronna,and we were discussing YOUR KITTENS! Ronna said we should come visit you sometime. :)

    Michele, I never really ate honey until I started keeping bees. It's just so much better than the stuff from the grocery store. Very complex floral flavours, nummmmmy!

  4. I can't believe you opened the top of the extractor while it was spinning! You are braver than I, but then again you are a bee keeper and I am not. Sorry to read about Gordon getting stung but all the bees certainly did work hard to bring you such lovely looking honey.

  5. I've learned some things about bees reading your honey posts. Now that we have our own hives, I can't eat any kind of honey except the pure, natural, raw out of the comb honey. Beekeeping has to be one of the best things in life.

  6. Please save me a jar so I can buy it from you next time I see you!! Gotta make honey cake for Rosh Hashanah!

  7. Ooh I've never seen honey going from hive to jar believe it or not. So thanks for the fascinating post

    110lbs sounds like a fair haul to me.. but then I am not bee keeper!

  8. Anonymous10:30 pm

    That honey looks wonderful! It also looks like a lot of work. And what Jams said -- 110 pounds sounds like a helluva lot of honey to me.

  9. Wonderful shots of the process. I used to have a hand crank centrifugal spinner.

    Thanks for sharing - was nice and nostalgic.

  10. Thanks for showing us the process, fascinating!

  11. Vanilla Bean, opening the extractor... it's called "BEING STUPID"! :) Poor Gordon, he's recovering from the bee sting.

    Pilgrim, I'm with you. And isn't the flavour of raw honey so much more delicate and complex?

    Ronna, I'll keep a jar for you.

    Jams, it's a lot of fun. And it's hard to keep yourself from sticking a finger in for a taste!

    In the good old days, before varroa mites and monoculture farming and so on, they used to get up to 300 lbs of honey PER HIVE around here (local beekeeper told me that!)

    Musical Gardener, it's going to take ten years of honey-selling to pay for that thing but I already have tennis elbow and couldn't deal with the thought of hand-cranking!

    Cog Dis, it's really quite enjoyable so it doesn't feel like work.

    LBM, my pleasure!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!