Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Honey Harvest!

Slicing the caps off the honey comb prior to extraction.

So our hives are huge and full. We have two of them, one of which already has two FULL supers on it (the large box that tops the hive and where the honey gets stored). We pulled a few frames to give the bees more room about a month ago, and we needed to harvest that honey so that we could reuse the frames. We rented an extractor from the local bee place and invited some friends over to watch/help/learn.

First step was to cut the caps off the honey comb. This is done in multiple ways, but we used a hot knife to slice them open on both sides of the frame.

Each frame has a notch in the spinning mechanism inside the extractor - the centrifugal force pulls all the honey from the comb.
Then the frames get inserted into the extractor. This particular extractor holds 9 frames. We are looking to buy a slightly smaller one to use for future use as we anticipate rarely harvesting so many frames at once.

The frames are spinning in this picture (barely visable) while we held the extractor from shaking too much.
The lid gets closed once all the spaces are filled and the spinning begins. Everyone took turns. We actually had to hold the extractor pretty tightly because we were short two frames and it created enough of an inbalance to wobble. We did bolt it down to a wooden board, but it still shook quite a bit. Next time, we'll make sure to fill the extractor!

Here comes the first of the honey!
We had a special filter pan sitting on a bucket to catch the honey as it came out of the extractor. This makes sure that you capture any and all non-honey bits (like wax).
The empty frames can go back into the super for storage or reinsertion into the hive. The header on the blog shows a close up of the comb after extraction. (above)
After all the honey is out of the frames, we can reuse them by inserting them back into the super. This is actually helpful to the bees because they don't have to build more comb...they only have to fill it and then cap it.

This shows some of the beeswax caught by the filter as the last of the honey comes out of the extractor.

Lastly, we tilted the extractor to help the last of the honey flow out of the spout and into our filter. It was just beautiful as it glowed in the sunlight! And man...nothing beats fresh, raw honey for taste - it's heavenly!

No comments: