Honey Extraction

I haven’t posted much about our bees but they are still in our yard, doing bee things. One of the bee things that I am most excited about is that they have been making honey! We started in mid-August pulling off some honey supers and we’ve been basically harvesting and processing honey since then. We both made ourselves a little sick eating spoonfuls of honey right out of the comb the first night we started honey processing.

Jonny and I have been doing all our honey processing in the kitchen. Our house is tiny but we didn’t want to have to do it out in the cold (and dirty) garage. There were a few weeks where everything seemed to have a thin layer of honey on it but we gave everything a good clean and its back to normal now. We didn’t want to invest a lot of money in honey equipment (since we’ve just got the two hives) so there is a fair amount of time required. It hasn’t been the easiest process to get from bee hive to honey jar.

The first step (after we get all the bees off the frames) is cutting the wax cappings off each frame. We’ve just been using a serrated knife and catching the cappings (and honey) in a few large Tupperware containers. I’m sure a heated knife would make this easier, but this is a simple step and works well with what we have.

We started by using simple gravity drip extraction after we had cut the cappings but after a couple of days we had hardly any honey out of the frames. We then did a little internet research and built ourselves a “honey spinner” to extract honey. We power it off a corded drill and are using a rubbermaid pail as our container to catch the honey as it flies off the frames. It does require two people to operate, and only does two frames at a time but we get way more honey off it than the drip method did.

We’ve been storing the honey in some large pails and then filtering it through a cloth filter bag we bought at the wine making store. It is slow to filter but seems to be removing most of the particles of wax (and bees) that are in the honey after it comes out of the spinner.

We didn’t buy a honey gate this year so it takes a while to get honey of the pail and into the jar but at least it isn’t messy.

So far we’ve got over 40L of honey stored in various containers and such. There is going to lots of cooking with honey this year!

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