Sunday, May 22, 2011

Honey Harvest

There is nothing better than enjoying honey made by your own bees!

We started our honey harvest yesterday! Dad has already harvested 9 frames from another hive, but yesterday we went up to harvest from the Four Winds bees, which are the ones that you can see living in a barn wall on the video blog (changing this soon, for the moment you can see it here).

One hive was queenless, so we gave it a frame of new eggs from the other so that they can make an emergency queen. Apparently there are lots of hives going queenless at the moment, possibly due to the very cold winter we've just had. However, we were still able to harvest a whole box from that hive, and two boxes from the other! (We don't use a super and broodbox system; we use One Size Boxes, hence why I say 'box'). Both hives have huge populations and are quite lively without being aggressive - very very lovely bees, and very hard working. The photos below show Dad and the bees' very devoted landlords/uncle+aunt Dave and Vicky having a look.

So, we have harvested 36 frames full of honey, and each box of 12 frames has so far given us a gallon of honey! We still have one box left to extract, and then when we press the honey out of the cappings using our cider press we may get a little more! But at the moment we have 2 gallons already, from one hive alone!

^ Uncapping

This is quite an early harvest, because the bees have been collecting from Oil Seed Rape, which is a spring crop and the honey of which crystalises very quickly - therefore, we have harvested early to make sure that we can actually get it out of the comb. It's a pale, light honey, not the floweriest flavour but pleasant enough and lovely and sweet.

So at the moment we are just spinning out the honey in our old extractor that is gradually falling to bits. Hopefully though we will sell enough honey this year to be able to buy a brand new electric extractor! That's the plan. And for the moment the old one is doing the job!

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