We’re in the honey!

After the first unsuccessful attempt at harvesting honey this year, we decided to give it another go last weekend.  I had removed about half of the honey from the hives the weekend prior (before things went south).  I suited up again this Saturday to finish removing the honey on the remaining hives…not one single sting while I was removing the rest.  Not one!  That’s the way it is supposed to work!  I am not sure I would recommend it, but if one has normal freakin’ bees and works slowly and deliberately, one could almost work the bees buck naked.

Anyhow, I pulled the rest of the honey and we extracted on Sunday (with the help of my family!)  I nearly fainted as Isaac and Abigail both actually helped with the process.  Typically they swoop in and swipe bits of honey, then retreat to unknown locations planning their next attack.  But this weekend, they actually stuck it out for an hour or so!

Some years we get different colors of honey.  Different nectar sources produce different colors of honey.  This year, all of the honey was the same color.  That doesn’t mean that all of the honey came from a single type of flower…just that all the types of flowers they worked happened to make the same color of honey.

We have converted our honey frames over to plastic Honey SuperCell frames which I cut to size to fit in the shorter honey boxes.  There are many advantages to these type of honey frames but one thing that is both good and bad is that the bees don’t draw out the honeycomb too thick.  Really, they don’t draw it out beyond the depth of the plastic that is already drawn.  That’s good in that I don’t destroy any honey getting the frames out, but bad in that it means it’s harder to cut the cappings off.  Rather than using a knife to remove the top caps of the honey comb, we had to try something new this year – a capping scratcher.  That’s basically a fork with long thin tines that we drag over the sealed honey cells to break open the honeycomb so it can be extracted.   (All that may be confusing…basically, I can’t use a knife any more to open the honey cells…now I need to use a fork)

We spent about 4 hours on Sunday and extracted about 193 pounds of honey this year.  I am pretty satisfied with that especially considering I destroyed 25-40 pounds of honey in one of the hives I had to kill.  It’s exhausting work but we really enjoy the family time too (right family?  right?)  Like so much at this time of year (i.e. the garden), I love the build-up and the harvest but even more-so, I love its completion!

13 thoughts on “We’re in the honey!

  1. Question: When you used the knife in the past, were you able to extract any honey at all from the caps you cut off? I seem to remember the wax comes off in big sheets, with a bit of honey on each sheet.

    The fork seems more labor intensive. Or is it heated?
    Okay, that’s two questions. Sorry.

  2. Oh definitely CeeCee. We put all cappings (either method produces them…the ones from the knife are bigger though) into a strainer and wait awhile to let all the honey fall out. Using the fork isn’t bad at all. It is not heated but it doesn’t take much of a hold to open the capping. My knife isn’t heated either so the effort seems about equal. Some folks do use heated knives though so they may find it more work to use the fork…

  3. Look wonderful! Out of curiousity, did you find out why the other hives became so aggressive? I’ve thought about having hives but have resisted because I am allergic to them. And attack like you went through would have put me in the hospital.

  4. kyrsyan – I do not have any idea what caused the other issue. I was into several more hives this weekend and they were as gentle as can be (I guess that’s relative…but they were great for bees). Bees’ temperaments do vary and sometimes it depends on the day/environment but I have never seen a reaction like I saw when they went wild…I can only speculate that there were some really bad genetics, possibly africanized tendencies but I have nothing more than speculation to go on…

  5. Lisa – yes…

    I sell some, give away some and use some. I won’t have a jar left come this time next year. Basically I use the honey to break even on my beekeeping hobby so I make no money at it…it’s expensive to keep bees so I will probably have to sell most of it…

  6. This is my first visit to your blog and enjoyed what interesting post you have here. Our neighbor used to have bees and we were happy to receive gallons of honey each year….however, he moved…bummer! LOL

  7. Congrates Warren on a good harvest. What flowers do you guess they worked this year? Our area has a lot of Tulip (AKA Yellow) Poplar. We’re feeding one of the TBH’s via Boardman feeder because during supercedure they lost some population, and got a very late start on the flow. BTW, we’ve decided on micro harvesting, which would work better for us. Going to think about the fork. Maybe we could utilize that. TBH’s go on crush and drain model. I took some pictures of the Beeyard which I will send soon. I assume your back is back 😉 to normal.

  8. gail & bob – I suspect that they work mostly tulip poplar around me. There is a good bunch of clover and stuff but not enough to be consequential I think. Tulip poplars on the other hand…everywhere

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