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Harvest time

September 08, 2011

Both hives were doing well and the summer was coming to an end so we decided it was time to harvest some honey. From past inspections it looked like we were going to get about 15 medium frames and 8 full frames and still leave enough honey for winter food stores.  We prepped the kitchen for the sticky job ahead. Cardboard on the floor and plastic drop cloths where they were needed. [caption id="attachment_424" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="kitchen prep"]kitchen prep[/caption] We borrowed a 2 frame extractor and purchased a 5 gallon bucket with a honey-gate  and 3 strainers inserts, 600, 400, and 200 microns to filter the wax and make the honey clear. [caption id="attachment_423" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="extractor and strainer bucket"]extractor and strainer bucket[/caption] The method we used to remove the honey frames was to shake the bees off the frame, use the bee brush to remove any stragglers and quickly place the frame in a rubber-maid tote and quickly cover it. Using the "hive drape" method with a moist tea towel we removed  all the frames we thought we should and moved them in the house. [caption id="attachment_428" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="harvested frames"]harvested frames[/caption] Uncapping the frames was fun. First we  tried to us a knife but that really was not the way to go. Perhaps a heated knife would work better next time. After a few tries the capping fork worked great and frames were decapped and placed in the extractor. [caption id="attachment_430" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="decapped frame"]decapped frame[/caption] The extractor was interesting to use to say the least. it was strapped to the table as much as possible but still wobbled like crazy until the honey was removed. Next time I would build a stand for the extractor that was a bit lower than the table. [caption id="attachment_434" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="extractor on table"]extractor on table[/caption]

nice set up eh?

[caption id="attachment_435" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Empty frame"]Empty frame[/caption] We managed to extract about 8 medium frames and the honey built up in the extractor so it was hard to spin. Tilting the extractor up with some scrap wood let the honey flow out the spout. Being one of the hottest days of the summer and having all the windows and doors shut to keep out curious bees helped make the honey flow a little quicker although it seemed like forever waiting for it to finish. [caption id="attachment_436" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Honey in the Strainer"]Honey in the Strainer[/caption] The strainers seemed to be working well but the honey was just dripping out of the bottom of the 200 micron filter and the honey was reaching the top of the bucket. We finished off   4 more medium frames and 2 deep frames and let the honey run into another bucket to be added later to the strainer. [caption id="attachment_441" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Full bucket"]Full bucket[/caption] I have been reading conflicting amounts of what a frame of capped honey actually holds. Some say 10 pounds per deep frame and others say 5 to 8 pounds. I felt bad not leaving enough food stores so decided to put back 6 deep frames into the hive for the bees. [caption id="attachment_445" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="honey harvest"]honey harvest[/caption]

Leaving the bucket overnight is strained through and the honey had time to settle before we bottled the next evening. Bottling was fun once we got used to using the honey gate. 24 small 110ml bottles for giveaways, 24 125ml jars for more giveaways, 10 250ml jars, 20 500ml jars and a couple of litre jars and a few little unknown jars.  Not bad for the first year considering we weren't expecting any.

Oh yeah it tastes great!

Next post- Cappings




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