Honey extraction…first year

Jul 23, 2011

So, this morning we extracted honey from one of our backyard hives. We didn't even take the whole super's worth of frames, we left a few behind and only extracted from about 6 frames. Here are some photos of the process...

Here is me using the the bump and brush method, after a little smoking, to remove the bees from the honey super.

They are not happy about getting brushed off their honey frames...after we collected all the frames we wanted to harvest, we put them into another waiting empty super and slipped it inside a plastic bag for transport to the honey house.

Here I am at the honey house using the hot knife to remove the beeswax capping from the honey comb. You basically slice off the capping and collect it in a tray below (you'll save this wax and honey for later...it's yummy!)

A close up of the wax capping coming off the honey comb...

Then, you use a metal comb to break open any remaining cell not opened by the hot knife...

The frames are then carefully placed inside an extractor, which is basically like a large centrifuge that spins out all the honey at high speed.

The honey drains out of the extractor into a food-grade plastic collecting bucket, filtered by two metal sieves and a straining cloth. So pretty!

Excess honey is squeezed out of the straining cloth...

And here is our beautiful honey! We didn't end up with a great quantity, but from only 6 frames we got about a gallon and a half of beautiful golden honey. It is very thick with a wonderful floral flavor. We tested the moisture content and it measured 17%. A good quality honey shouldn't have more than 18% and preferably a little less. Too much moisture in the honey means your honey can ferment later on, plus it makes it thin. With the drought this year, it's no surprise we came in at 17%. While the drought keeps us from getting as much honey, the honey we get is of higher quality. The bees will usually tell you themselves when your honey is at the right moisture content for harvesting, because they will cap it off between 17%-18%.

And don't forget that bonus honey and comb...I jarred it up...it's like candy!

I'll be jarring up some of our "Sweet Beez Backard Honey" for family and a few friends over the next week. Looking forward to a big harvest next year!

There are 5 comments for this entry

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Jul 25, 2011
11:07 pm

That’s awesome!  We keep bees, but use the simpler “crush and strain” method of harvesting honey. This month, we got something like 18 pounds of honey.

Lisa Rawlinson
Aug 03, 2011
3:21 pm

So how does the the honey house thing work? That looks like some very specialized equipment that is probably expensive… I’m sure Austin has something like that, but not sure how that part of it works.

Leslie Finical Halleck
Aug 03, 2011
6:34 pm

Lisa - Yes, I took a 5 month training class, and yes, it’s a lot of special equipment. There are some lower cost options, but there is a lot to manage and it is a get what you pay for kind of situation. Check out http://www.dadant.com they are a Texas company and where I purchased all of my equipment. If you’re really interested in beekeeping, I would suggest looking for a local beekeepers association and see if they have any classes you can take. It definitely takes some guided instruction.

Leslie Finical Halleck
Aug 03, 2011
6:37 pm

Capitol Area Honey Bee Stewards
Carol Malcolm
8913 Georgian Dr.
Austin, TX 78753

Leslie Finical Halleck
Aug 03, 2011
6:39 pm

Ok, I just realize there were two Lisa’s commenting on this post! LOL, to the First Lisa that posted about the crush and strain method - we may do this in the future as well, but currently we have use of a honey house to rent for small blocks of time. They have all the nice extracting equipment. So that’s really nice.

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