We harvested our first honey of the year recently from the two hives we installed in April. Earlier we mentioned that one of the hives had gotten behind due to an inadequate queen that we had to replace, so that hive has been struggling but doing OK. The honey we harvested came from hive #1, which has been running wonderfully since day one.
We decided to work in the house so that the bees would leave us alone. Luckily, The Boy has a great bee mentor who allowed us to borrow his frame spinner (the big stainless thing there on the table) which removes the honey from the frames by hand spinning, and includes a tap at the bottom for filling jars. It performed great and made quick work of this project!
Here is a close up of one of the frames removed from the hive. You can see that the comb is "capped" with wax, which the bees do when each cell is full of honey.
Another view of the same frame.
The Boy took a sharp bread knife and carefully sliced the outer capped edge off of both sides of the frame (the frames are filled and capped by the bees on both sides)
View of the same frame after the capped edge is sliced off, exposing the honey.
This frame came out of the same hive but the honey shown here is much darker, meaning that the bees were collecting off of something different that had a darker pollen. It tasted richer too!! However we didn't put it in separate jars, we mixed it with the lighter color honey.
The capped edge that was sliced off of the frames was put in a big bowl. There was a lot of honey still in this part but it can't go through the spinner.
The easiest way we found to deal with this (and salvage the honey in it) was to smash it in your hand over a mesh strainer. Messy, but it worked!
The frames are then loaded into the spinner, and the lid with the crank handle is put on top.
This shows one frame in one side before we loaded in the second frame.
There is a crank arm on the top that spins the honey out of the frames. The lid is clear so you can see the frames while you spin them.
After a few minutes of spinning the frames and they were empty, we removed them. You can see the honey that has collected at the bottom of the spinner.
The spinner has a sealed tap at the bottom. We placed a fine mesh strainer over a clean pitcher and set it under the tap. Then we opened the floodgates and watched the golden honey flow!
The mesh strainer catches all of the little bits of wax from the comb, so all that is left is pure clean raw honey.
Towards the end, we used a rubber spatula to scrape down what was left on the sides (no waste!).
Using the pitcher made it super easy to pour the honey into clean sterile jars. We put clean lids on them, made extra sure the sides were wiped clean of any honey residue (no ants please!) and stored the jars in our pantry. Not bad for our first harvest! We look forward to expanding our bee yard next year.
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