Sunday, October 9, 2016

Honey Harvest

I was brave this year, and helped with the honey harvest.  Or perhaps it was the fact that Ryan had gone through the process before and could make do with my unskilled help.  We both suited up in our half bee suits, taped our pants closed at the ankles, and walked out to the bees.  Ryan went through his three hives and took out the frames he wanted to harvest honey from.  It makes the bees very mad to shake things up like that.  The sound of angry bees is something that belongs in a nightmare, with the bees that try to dive bomb your face.  I came through the process unscathed, but Ryan picked up a sting or two.

Once we had our two heavy boxes of honey frames, we took them over to the garage.  Ryan shook bees off the individual frames one by one, and I took them into the garage.  With that done, we wandered around a little bit waiting for the bees to leave us alone so we could take off the bee suits and sneak in the back door.  There were still some angry bees by the front door of the house, since it is so close to the garage.

One evening after a couple of days, Ryan turned on the space heaters in the garage.  It is supposed to help get more honey off the frames because warm honey is less stiff.  This year Ryan put two space heaters out there to make sure the honey was good and warm.  Did you know there is such thing as honey frames that are too warm?  We didn't.  At least until the next morning when Ryan went to check on things and found that the wax cappings had collapsed and honey was oozing off the frames, onto the table and dripping onto the floor.


So Ryan let the garage drop a few degrees and we tried again today.  
 First you take the electric hot knife and cut off the wax cappings.  You do this over a bucket with a grate in the bottom so you can collect honey from this part too.

Then the uncapped frames go into a borrowed electric centrifuge and you let that thing spin for an hour or so.  And you watch the honey start to trickle out of the bottom.  It's a good idea to run the honey through a colander to catch bits of wax and bee parts.  Meanwhile, you and your kids catch honey on your finger for tasting.  Yummmm...
 Once your 5 gallon bucket is good and full, then you filter the honey one more time and then put it in containers.  In our case, those would be canning jars.

Our honey was a different color this year.  The big jar on the left was last year's honey, and the smaller one is from this year.  Ryan thinks it is because he grew a whole lot of sunflowers this year.  He planted those sunflowers partly to keep weeds down, and partly for his bees.

 This is all the honey we canned tonight.  There is still more.

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