Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Bountiful Harvest of Honey

This Labor Day weekend at the Kinnison Farm brought our first harvest of Honey~ ohh the bees have done so well this year! Everyone told us we wouldn't get honey the first year, but we have had so much rain, and the bees are really thriving. They even raised a new queen about a month ago, and swarmed (been too busy to blog about that~ WHAT a sight!) Above you can see the 3 sections of our hive, the bottom two for pollen and brood, and the shallow one on the top is the honey super. (Emma painted flowers on it) Between it and the hive, you can see the bare wood queen extruder, that keeps her down in the hive and only allows the workers up in the honey super~ we don't want any wee babies in the honey!

The bees are smoked to let them know we are visiting, and then each frame is pried out (they glue it in with their 'honey glue'), and the bees shook off. Now we just put the honey super on the hive the first week of Aug~ so the frames aren't totally capped, as you can see, only about half are capped with wax, but the rest is pretty near full. The bees are amazing workers

The first step to harvesting the honey is to uncap the frames. We did this with a hot knife. The caps are scraped off both sides of the frame and then the frames are set into the honey spinner, as you can see below.

By turning the crank handle, the center basket spins, and draws the honey from the frames. One side is done, then you stop, and turn the frames, and spin them again.
The kids had fund each cranking away~ it takes a while!

I kept asking Josh if sticking his tongue out helped, and he said yep~ it did!

This is what the frame looks like after it comes out of the spinner, all empty~ isn't it beautiful?
Next all the remaining wax & honey is scraped off into the collecting pan. Nothing is wasted! I mashed this, and heated it on the stove and strained all the remaining honey from the wax, and am going to make wee little cakes for waxing thread form the little bit of wax we got, Id say a ball about the size of an orange...not much!

Once all the frames are spun, then the honey is strained thru a sieve into a bowl or bucket. This first sieve is rather large holed, but gets lot of the bigger wax chunks out.

We were really surprised at how much honey we got this year.

The taste and color of honey depends on what flowers are around that the bees collect from~ I can honestly say, that our honey doesn't taste like anything I have ever tasted from the store. Its quite unique, and so delicious.

The honey is then strained thru another finer sieve and finally strained again before going into the jars

It looks opaque here because of all the little air bubbles. As it sits, its getting clearer....our is very pale, but isn't totally clear, is still has some color. I LOVE these wee little jars~ filled they weight about a pound, minus the jar weight, they hold around 10 ounces of honey ea
After weighing everything and subtracting the jar weights, we have a smidgen over 21 POUNDS of honey from this one awesome little hive! My husband couldn't be any prouder of his bees~What a blessing!


Tina Eudora said...

Wow Rachael what a job, but it does look like a great family project! Unlike most people I love bees (of course I have never been stung!)When they show up for my Sunflowers I am so happy to see them.
I have also read many years ago in a folk medicine book that chewing the wax, which is full of Royal Jelly, is great for asthma, bronchitis or any lung problem.
You are so lucky to have your own hive and honey!
Have a great holiday weekend guys!
Tina xo

Crowsnest Pass Primitive Folk Art said...

Looks delicious...I envy you so much...would love the experience of having bees & then seeing the end product of all their hard work...congrats on your first successful batch! hugs Susan

Rachael Kinnison said...

You Too Tina!!!
And yes, beeswax & honey have been used in medecines for centuries!
xoxoxox rachael

Rachael Kinnison said...

Thanks Susan!
xoxoxo rachael

Barbara said...

Can't wait to get down there to get a "taste"!!
LY, Mom