Honey extraction…first year

July 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...

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

Brushing_bees1
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.

Hotknife_oncomb
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!)

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

Breaking_comb2
Then, you use a metal comb to break open any remaining cell not opened by the hot knife...

Frames_spinner
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.

Honey_extraction
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!

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

Honey_firstyear
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!

Honey_comb
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!

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