Sunday, September 18, 2011

Honey Harvest 2011

This post is a little overdue- two weeks ago we harvested our honey.  I actually pulled the supers off Georgia and extracted the honey a couple of days later.  Virginia ended up with laying workers this summer and has now died out completely.

As I was removing the supers I removed each frame one at a time and removed the bees.  The top couple of supers, which were the last ones to be put on, were full of capped honey- nearly every frame was 100% capped.  The lower three supers had several frames that were full of uncapped nectar.  I found it curious that the newest supers had more capped honey than the older ones.  I had removed the queen excluder earlier in the summer because the bees kept sealing it off and blocking their own ability to move up into the supers.  Consequently there was a little bit of brood up in the bottom super.  I wonder if the fact that the brood chamber was sitting a little higher could explain why there was less capped honey down low.  Anyway, by the time I switched out all the uncapped frames with capped frames I had 4 full supers.

This first photo shows uncapping a frame of honey with a heated uncapping knife.

As the hot knife removed the caps it frequently leaves a thin layer of wax over the tops of the cells.  This next photo shows the scratcher that I used to very lightly remove that thin layer of wax.
You can also see the uncapping tank I devised to catch the honey that drained off of the caps.

In this next photo you can see the extractor we used and a filter over the five gallon bucket.
Filtering is the slowest step of the whole extracting process.  Since it does go so slowly, we extracted most of the honey into buckets and filtered it after the fact. This last photo is of the unfiltered honey in a five gallon bucket.
 In the end we extracted 133 pounds or about 11 gallons.

We let the caps drain for a couple of days and filtered that honey a little later.  When it was all done we added about five pounds of honey to the total.

Now we have a bunch of beeswax that will need to be melted down and cleaned up.  I don't know what we will do with the wax this year.  Maybe we will try some candle making.

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