Sunday, May 8, 2011

Honey Harvest

It was warm enough last weekend that we opened up the hive and confirmed our suspicions that we'd lost the colony over the winter. We're almost positive, based on what we found, that there wasn't adequate ventilation and too much moisture built up. It looks like we need to make sure there's some sort of venting at the top to allow air flow through next time. We've put out the word that we're seeking a swarm so hopefully something will come our way.

The bees did leave behind some beautiful frames of capped honey though.

We cut the comb off of the frames, leaving a short layer of wax at the top for the next users to build from. (We don't use any sort of foundation so our comb is wax all the way through.)

It ended up filling two of my large cooking pots.

It was Q's job to mash it all up. This condensed it into one pot.

After the other pot had been washed, we hung the fermenter's bag full of crushed comb over it to drain. We added more block under the bar as the honey level rose and we needed to raise the bag.

It's not as slick as an extractor but several hundred dollars cheaper. I do think it would be worth getting a food grade bucket with a spigot at the bottom if we get hives in the future though. Filling the jars was tedious using the ladle and pour method.

We let it drain for about 48 hours. It was amazing how light the bag was at the end.

We ended up with 12 pounds of honey. The jar above is 1 pound. We totally couldn't resist getting the cute honey jars. We still haven't cleaned the wax. We'll post pictures when we get that done.


Anonymous said...

What an educational post! I never thought about the process for honey making. It looks like it's relatively low tech. Did you nibble honey throughout the process? I think I would...

Liz said...

We don't call it "nibbling"; we call it "quality testing". ;) And honey fresh from the comb is somehow one of the yummiest things ever. Harvesting honey can be so much more high tech but it certainly doesn't have to be.