Tag Archives: Honey

Your honey for nuthin’ and your licks for free

We harvested honey this weekend.  We usually seem to pick the hottest day of the year to harvest.  It’s not because we like to do it on the hottest day of the year…it just works out that way.  So, my father-in-law came over on 6:30 am Saturday at my request.  “We’ll start early and beat the heat.”  Of course, it didn’t occur to me that the sun isn’t truly up then.  Bees get pretty testy when they are disturbed before the sun is shining bright in the sky.  It’s also best to give the worker bees time to get out into the field.  Fewer bees in the hive come harvest time is always a good thing.  So, our early start didn’t exactly start how I expected but we still did get going with the harvest.


My father-in-law holding honey in the comb and an edge-on piece of comb

I have previously sworn off smoking the bees and the smoke/no-smoke argument is a religious debate amongst beekeepers.  Personally, smoking bees leaves me with a bad cough and I can never find rolling papers anyhow.  Um, no, actually, smoking bees with a smoker is what I mean.  After last year’s episode, I decided that for the harvest, I would return to using smoke.  As much as I hate to admit it, I am certain that the smoker made our harvest easier.  For most interactions with the bees, I still do not think that using a smoker is necessary, but harvesting is not a typical interaction.



Brood (aka baby bees) on the left, honey on the right.  Don’t confuse them on harvest day!



So, we pulled off all of the honey from the hives and promptly headed off to a soccer-palooza in the heat of the day.  It was fantastic to…uh…have a break in the middle of honey harvest.  After 4 or so hours of  ball kicking, we returned to the honey-house and worked until every drop of honey was extracted, bottled and/or licked from our sticky (but exceedingly clean) fingers.

Click: Honey Flow Video                             Click:  Bees Cleaning Honey Supers

It’s great having bees.  We don’t pay for honey any more, but I am not sure you could say honey is free.  We definitely take our licks and they seem to be free though.  My back is sore and my arms are tired.  All told, we harvested around 150 pounds of honey which is much less than I expected or hoped for but it’s better than none!

Of course, the title to this post is a nod to the awesome Dire Straits Song linked here!  Nothing at all to do with bees unfortunately…

More info about my bees and beekeeping

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!