Saturday, July 11, 2009

Harvest Day


It's been years since we've harvested any honey. I was more of an "observer" at the time and really couldn't remember all that was involved. Dad was amazing and knew just what to do! We loaded all our supplies (leaf blower, garbage bags, honey robber, fume board, hive tools, gloves, coats, and a small bench) into the tractor wagon and set off to the apiary. Couldn't have asked for better weather and the bees were in a good mood! First we applied the honey robber (Picture #2) to the fume board. It smells really bad. Then we placed the fume board on top of the honey super (Picture #3). The smell drives the bees down lower into the hive and away from the honey supers. You can smoke them a bit too.

Once the bees are down deeper in the hive, pry the honey super off. It probably weighed about 25-30 pounds? Next we popped it onto a bench and fired up the leaf blower. Blowing the frames (Picture #1 ) removes most of the remaining bees - stuns them a bit, but doesn't hurt them. The trick is to get the garbage bag over the super once they are blown out! After the box was bagged, we placed it in the wagon to take to the garage for spinning. We set up a small spinning station (Picture #2) in the garage. A patio table made a good bench to work on the frames - easy to hose off later. Kept a small container close to place the wax caps that were scratched open before placing the cards of honey into the spinner (Spinner lid #3).

This card was packed full of honey and drawn out past the frame. Almost all the frames had capped honey, like to the left of the frame. Very few contained uncapped honey, far right on the frame.

First pour.

Once the tops of the capped honey are scratched open, they can be placed in the spinner. Our spinner holds 4 frames at a time. Once the frames are in, shut the lid, and crank the handle. The honey is pulled from the comb as it spins, runs down the side of the spinner, then it can be poured out of the bottom of the spinner. We do a rough strain as it pours into the bucket the first time. This removes the large chunks of wax and makes the next three rounds of fine straining easier. After trying this in our basement one year, we elected for the garage this year.. spinning honey is sticky work! Plus, no matter how careful you are - there are still bees everywhere. We had to close the doors to keep them out!

The girls were working over the frames hard the morning after.

So now it's time for the grand total. We pulled about 9 honey supers off our hives. After an entire day of hauling and spinning I am so very excited to say we harvested 150 pounds of honey. That's about 18 gallons...

I'm still in shock.

20 comments:

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

I visited bee farm once... I thought it was such a lovely adventure.., planting flowering plants in the farm. But for all we know, bees can travel quite a distance, and may be visiting plants you dont plant. The best honey in Malaysia is Tualang Honey from beehive perched at the highest tree in the jungle, the tualang tree. Exquisite taste, and expensive too!!

Happy Harvesting,
~ bangchik

Nancy said...

Such a cool process. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy said...

Hey, I saw your comment on Give a Girl a Fig about freezing zucchini shreds...yes, you can. I've shredded zucchini before and frozen in ziplocs with much success. I've used them in stirfry, lasaganas, fried rice, baked goods and have been pleased with how it turns out. Not sure how long they'll be good for in the freezer as I've used mine within 4-6 weeks.

Tessa at Blunders with shoots, blossoms 'n roots said...

Yum! Very interesting process and one I'm not sure I could do. Next time I buy honey, I'll have a much better understanding :)

Camie said...

Holy moley - that's the only thing I can think of saying. I sat hear reading with my mouth hanging open. Honeybees are miracles with wings...and I thinking your dad is pretty special too...

June said...

You AMAZE me. And so does that photo in the previous post of the bee caught in flight. Wow, wow, wow! Enjoy your even sweeter life...

gardenmama said...

18 gallons!!
Between the blueberries and the honey I think you should get a farm stand going! Impressive!!

jeanette, mistress of longears said...

I had no idea how much work it would be! And now, I am counting on you to publish 1000 recipes! What will you do with all that honey?

Leslie said...

Wow, such an interesting process. And you got SO much honey. How lucky! Will you keep and eat it all, or do you sell some?

underthebigbluesky said...

wow.

such work. i'm sure hot, sticky and sweaty.

but what an elixir!

Ellie Mae's Cottage said...

So interesting! I had no idea it was so involved. You harvested a lot of honey - it must feel good. -Jackie

The Hip Homemaker said...

I am practically giddy right now, reading through this post looking at all of the photos. I feel like I should be taking notes. How amazing is this?!? It makes me even more certain that I will try this someday so that I can be part of this crazy process.

Kudos to you and if you are needin' a place to put some of that honey, I have some space on the shelves next to my canned cherries... I'm just sayin'....

sarah in the woods said...

Wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing.

Kim said...

I'm originally from Florida, so I'm partial to Tupelo honey. I try to get local honey here where we live in the midAtlantic, and some of that is pretty awesome, too. What kind of honey are you harvesting?

Michelle said...

WOW. That is amazing! Does it actually take "years" to accumulate this much honey? Or are you guys just starting over? I was THIS close to buying a spinner at the thrift store for TEN DOLLARS!! I knew I should have bought it...but I just wasn't sure about keeping bees or not...but man, it sure would have been a great deal when I DO decide to keep bees!

Michelle said...

I just read Nancy's comment regarding the zucchini...you've GOT to try this recipe for fried zucchini cakes...SO STINKIN' GOOD.
Follow the link for some yummy zucchini goodness...

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/07/cooking-with-ryan-zucchini-cakes/

Chiot's Run said...

Awesome, can't wait till next year to do the same.

Heather said...

I was all set to dive right into beekeeping when I saw all your pretty jars but all of this post shows just how much work goes into what you do. I may just continue to buy my honey locally. That really looked like quite a job!

Sarah: wife, mother, beekeeper said...

Wish I could have been there :) I can smell the honey!

joanne in AK said...

I love filling huge jars, it makes me feel so successful!! I'm pulling off a few frames at a time. It's like christmas every other day!

Wonderful blog!