Harvest is upon us! Our “golden girl” who is an Italian queen has been our best producer so far with five fully capped frames of honey and three frames the hive is still working on capping. The other hives were still working on building up honey as well as capping so we only collected 5 frames total for extraction.
The aroma alone is enough to give you a sugar high! We placed the frames in a cooler after shaking the worker bees loose so that half the hive did not follow us into the house where the extractor was. We placed the honey super back on the hive and went into the house to get the sticky deed done!
We used a hot knife to cut open the cappings and honey quickly began dripping all over the place. Once both sides of the frame were cut we placed the frame into the extractor. This extractor holds up to two frames at a time and then Luke and I took turns spinning the frames with the hand crank. It took about 70-80 spins each direction to extract all of the honey from the uncapped cells. The honey poured out of the extractor into a screen to filter out any unwanted wax, dead bees or pollen particles and into a five gallon bucket. After about an hour we had three gallons of honey which we let sit over night so that air bubbles would rise to the top of the bucket and not be captured in the individual jars.
After all that work we had a couple spoon fulls of the golden goodness and decided it was the most delicious honey either of us had ever tasted! The taste was light and fruity and had a hint of a rose flavor toward the end of each savor. I now feel like I need to eat honey at every meal, it is absolutely irresistible. Another great thing about processing honey is the ability to process wax cappings. I processed close to half a pound of wax out of those five frames we harvested.
Processing the wax is a mostly straight forward process. I tried a new method this time which I think is much easier than the crock pot process I had used in the past. I had a bucket of cold water that I placed all of the dirty comb in and stirred it several times, then left it to sit over night. This separated any residual honey from the comb. After washing the comb, I set up a pot of boiling water with a glass jar which I put the wax within. Once it was all melted down I ran the hot wax through a strainer to remove any dead bees and other gross debris, pouring the wax directly into a mold with a small amount of water inside to make removal simple. The end result was absolutely stunning! Check out the beautiful color and the smell was absolutely to die for.
After the honey sat over night I was able to begin bottling it. Luke and I filled 36 jars completely full and each jar equated to about 3/4 of a pound of honey each. That is 27 pounds of honey out of one hive! Beekeeping is so rewarding, fun and we both learn something new everyday. Our friends and family supported our new endeavor by purchasing all of our jars of honey in three days, every last drop was gone. Our initial investment still is well over $1000 due to equipment costs and the bees themselves but I can really see this being a substantial portion of our income on the homestead moving forward. And if i chose to I could also sell the wax, but for now I think I will use it to make candles for the house. Stay tuned to a future post on how I make my beeswax candles!