Friday, August 12, 2011

Summer Update #1 - Honey Harvest

Well it took a few years but we finally got a decent honey harvest.  On July 9th we pulled off the Supers that were on Mary & Myrina; a Medium Super each.  Neither was completely drawn or filled.  About 8 frames out of each with only most of them fully drawn.  There were a few Deep frames to.

We were able to borrow back the same extractor we used in 2008 when we first spun honey.  A hand crank job that fits 4 Deep frames tangentially.  We tried using a capping knife for the first time.  Warmed it up on a hot plate before using it on a frame.  It didn't do that great so we went back to the capping fork.  The knife cut off a lot of wax & cooled down too quickly.  Though it was extremely sharp!  The neighbor lent us her capping bucket too.

Uncapping a Deep Frame
Last time we used a pot to collect the honey.  Fortunately I started brewing beer in January.  So this time we used my 6.5 gallon bottling bucket that has a spout.  Also different was the strainer.  Last time we used the 600 micron mesh and were left with very fine wax particles in the honey.  This time we nested the 200 micron mesh into the 600.  The honey came out perfectly clear.  Although it took Forever to pass through the strainers.

Outside at the Spinning Party
In all we got 4.5 gallons of honey.  Not the greatest haul but we're very happy with it.  After the first year of eating honey EVERY DAY we couldn't stop so had to buy honey when the bees didn't deliver.  Now we have a good supply of our own honey and it's as good as can be.  The main source here is Tulip Poplar & Black Locust.  The honey has a very fragrant woodland taste to it.  It's not pure sweet either, plenty of flavor, which I like.

The bottling didn't go as planned.  I thought the spout on the beer bucket would be great but it was to narrow.  The honey was too thick to flow quickly; like 30 minutes to fill a pint jar!!!  So I ladled it.  Which is fine.  The kids got another spoon to lick clean.

Filling a pint jar
There are many people i want to give honey to but we don't have enough for everyone.  Fortunately we didn't promise anything.  A good bit went to family, dear friends, and helpers though. 

I think the main reason the bees didn't make more honey was the screwy main flow.  The Poplars always bloom at once by the millions.  That, of course, draws all the bees to the trees.  This year the trees bloomed Almost singularly.  One would pop then another later on.  It lasted longer but nothing ever got the bees motors running.  The bees would instead concentrate on some non-major flow sources.  Also those darn Queen Excluders.  I thought clipping the sides would help, and it did, but not enough.  Lets see what I come up with next year.  Hopefully I've learned my lesson but I can be a bit thick.

Not the most but definitely the Best!
After all the fun one super and all the equipment were left out for the bees to rob clean.  Wow! was that crazy.  Two days of, "Don't go outside!".  It was a great show though.  At the time i had 8 colonies and my neighbor had 5.  That's a bunch of bees.

Nom nom nom nom...
Next year I hope to have four hives to put Supers on.  If its a decent year we could end up with more then we can eat for once.  Awww Yeah!...

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1 comment:

Christopher Beeson said...

Congrats on your harvest!