Preparation for our first honey harvest was done the weekend before. Mr. Menace had hoped to be able to complete the prep work AND do the harvesting on the same day, but
we are old and tire quickly it was just too much, so we put off the harvesting until the next weekend.
All the equipment had been in storage for years, so it all had to be washed.
July in Alabama is quite hot and humid, so Mr. Menace doesn’t do anything without a fan nearby. The ladder works great as a table to hold the boxes as they are removed from the hives. And the leaf blower is a great tool for getting the bees off the forms so we can steal their honey.
That next Saturday dawned cloudy with a forecast of rain, but the sun came out around 9 and we jumped in. It was our first ever harvesting from our own hives. Mr. Menace has participated in a couple of different harvests with other beekeepers in the past year though, so he had some basic knowledge.
REMOVAL FROM THE HIVES:
I took a few pictures before I got entirely suited up because I knew I wouldn’t be able to once I got my gloves on. You can see Mr. Menace preparing for harvesting in the above pictures. He is getting his smoker ready and has removed the top box.
This first box that he removed is one he had added recently, so there is no honey in it yet and you see very few bees. He just sat it here to get it out of the way so he could get to the next box which was FULL of honey.
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SEPARATION OF HONEY FROM THE COMB:
Here Mr. Menace is removing the frames from this box so that we can get to the honey.
Here is one of the frames. Inside the frame are the honeycomb cells which are full of honey. Each cell has a wax cap on it. Across the bottom, on the outside of the frame is some new honeycomb that is also full of honey, but has not been capped yet.
The wax caps have to be removed to release the honey. We used a wire scraper. You can also use a tool called a hot knife. It is an electrically heated knife that can make quick work of this job. However, since this was our first harvest, we are trying to conserve money and use the tools we have. We may invest in one later.
Next, the frames were placed into an Extractor which spins the honey out of the cells by centrifugal force. The honey then drains down and is collected at the bottom.
The extractor has a spout at the bottom to empty out the honey. We harvested approximately 5 gallons.
The specks you see are honeycomb particles.
STRAINING THE HONEY:
The next step will be bottling the honey and labeling it for sale. I have created our labels and ordered them. They should be arriving soon. I can’t wait to show them to you and get your opinion.
Oh, and one important factor! We managed to do this whole harvest without getting stung! However, when we took a break to cool off, we removed our protective gear. I decided I would return a call from my daughter and granddaughters, but I had left my phone out by the hives. I walked out there to get it and one little bee got in my hair which I had pulled up in a clip. He got stuck and couldn’t get out and wiggled his way all the way down to my scalp and in his frustration, stung my head! That thing hurt ALL NIGHT LONG!
Did you see our new apiary?