Thursday, June 2, 2011

Our First Honey Harvest

Our first honey harvest (Saturday May 28th) went better than anticipated, and full credit goes to Mark for planning ahead. I'll confess that though my frugal soul winced every time he bought extracting equipment, I was really glad we had all of the tools we needed to get the job done.  It was H-O-T. Which means I was cranky.

The star of the day was the 20-frame motorized extractor, purchased with the help of our investors -- thanks Granny, Mom, Dad, Kellie & Malcolm!  I've never been happier to embrace modern convenience over an old-fashioned hand-crank machine!

Clean and ready to get busy!
We also had a decapping tank, cappings scratchers, and buckets.

Please notice the cardboard my genius husband put under everything. Easy clean-up!

First we drove to Barham's Bee Yard.

Don't let this peaceful scene fool you. The Tower Bees were Not Happy.

 We retrieved three supers, then went to Bee Hill.

The harvesting process is relatively simple.  First, you scratch the cappings wax off of the honey comb so the honey can be removed. 

Mark's favorite invention of the day was the nail you set your frame in that allows you to spin it to the other side when you're done uncapping one side.

Next, you load the frames in the extractor, keeping them evenly distributed.

Next, you turn on the extractor and adjust the speed.

Look at the wall of the extractor -- see the honey and wax thrown out by centrifugal force?! COOL!

Next, you scare your husband by screaming when you see honey and wax running out of the extractor and filling up the filter a lot faster than you thought it would when you left your post ran upstairs to get some ice water.

Once the honey settles in the bucket, you can either let the air bubbles settle some more, or you can be very excited and start bottling.

I'm sure you can't guess which we did.

Our first bottle of honey!  GORGEOUS!

It was a long day, but fun to experience together.

After we bottled a few, we returned the "chewed up" frames to the strongest hives.  Mark checked them today and the bees had repaired the comb, cleaned up all the leaked honey and what we didn't extract (we've got to improve our scratching technique). He said they were pristine and already packing in more honey.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tear-Out at a Former Workplace Popularly Called The Palace

Today I got an email from one of the nicest guys I've ever worked with, Frank Young.  He's a curator at my former workplace, and had some bees removed from an unused part of a unfinished wing.  He took some photos and shared them with me at the urging of my motorcycle buddy Shirley, who retired but works there part-time.  Just can't get enough of it I guess.

A massive amount of bees and beautiful brood.

Look at all of that honey!

These bees have been here a while

What I find crazy is that the guy has on no gear at all, and at no point is the air full of bees.

Thanks Frank & Shirley!  Miss you!