Saturday, October 13, 2007

Honey Day...

Finally inside! It is 9:30 and we just got done extracting our honey from our bee hives. We did farm chores this morning and by the time we had eaten lunch and gotten out to the bee hives it was already almost 2:00. Today is a Saturday and when you hold full time off farm jobs weekends during the season go away fast!

First step is to pull the "suppers" off the hives. My husband did this while I stood FAR back and watched. When we started beekeeping 4 years ago it was my hobby. That lasted 3 years and about 25 stings, until one day one bee got me in my leg and before I knew it I was blowing up like a balloon and covered in hives (the bumpy red kind not the bee kind!) By the time my husband got me to the ER about 20 minutes later I was starting to cough! Welcome to the world of bee allergies. I have been getting allergy shots to build up an immunity but for now I stand way back and yell at him... "SMOKE THE ENTRANCE!!! THE ENTRANCE!!!"

In any case we pulled all 5 suppers from our 3 hives and brought them back to the sorting shed to start the extracting process.

Note to self. Do not do do this in 55 degree weather. Cold honey does not want to flow, and we cold filter all our honey. Heat destroys enzymes in the honey that helps make it so healthy, so ours never gets heated above room temperature. But a room temperature of 55 was not going to work, so the first step was to heat the room a little. The little propane heater did the trick, no problem.

After we got the room up to temperature the next step was to uncap the frames. When honey is ready for winter storage bees put a little piece of wax over the top of it. So we use a hot knife to cut that off. Then the frames go four at a time into an extractor, which is basically a big tub with a handle on it, so my poor husband gets to spin it round and round really fast until all the honey flys out the sides.

Typically this is pretty easy, but typically the honey is not cold! Cold=thick! It took some time but eventually we got all 50 frames uncapped and spun! I have never seen honey run so slow!

And all this takes place among a few left over bees who are stuck inside with us. Not to mention the yellow jackets and wasps who somehow always find a way in when there are five gallon buckets of honey.

No one got stung, and once we got the room heated up it went well and after all that we have about 12 gallons of honey, about 144 pounds!

I think I may need to order some more bears!

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