Honey Harvest 2013


IT IS DONE!  Honey Harvest 2013 is finished for the most part.  I still have one small hive up the road which I will check on when the next “good” day rolls around.  I may get a few more jars of honey from hive Queen Bella.  This year I had new helpers and I can’t thank them enough. I could not have done it without my newfound friends Kevin and Rhonda.  They were instrumental in completing this years harvest.

I met Kevin and Rhonda at the gourmet kitchen store I manage.  Kevin, aka “The Grill Daddy” a chef and his lovely wife Rhonda, a knowledgeable foodie for sure, visit the store on a regular basis.  You can read her Kraft Wellness FB page here.  Through a series of events and conversations they became my harvest assistants this year.

My man Dan is out of the state on a commercial photog job and it was time to get the honey off of the hives. With their help I’d checked the week before to be sure I had plenty of capped honey ready to come off of the hives.  Kevin did us a favor and took the onslaught of chigger bites that day as well as taking notes for me regarding which hives had honey in which super.  We really appreciated him being a chigger magnet, as Rhonda and I only got a bite each , while he was tackled full force with around 70 bites!  If you recall I hate chiggers! Rhonda, an excellent bee keeping student listened, asked questions and helped me investigate the situation of each hive.  There were plenty of full supers so I knew it was time to harvest.  4 days earlier than previous years, but it was time.

June 30th, my new helpers came over ready to work.  Rhonda with me in the bee yard and Kevin in the kitchen.  He declared he’d not be chewed on by chiggers again but would gladly prepare brunch for the two of us.  And boy did he whip up a special meal to tide us over as the day progressed.  Kevin served us fried green tomatoes, a veggie fritatta of duck eggs, organic cranberry bread and fresh mangos. It was a treat to come inside after working in the apiary and enjoy a delicious meal before we moved on to the honey house.

This years yield, 18.5 gallons to date is shy of last years.  I do, however feel fortunate as I’ve heard from quite a few bee keepers that the harvest is low, if any this year.  Loss of hives seems to play a big role in this sad but true story.  I urge you to be proactive in refraining from the use of pesticides in your yards and spread the word.  Plant flowers and trees that attract bees, support your local organic folks, and if you encounter a swarm or hive of bees living in a place where they could be a problem for humans call your local bee keeper for removal.  DO NOT get out the can of RAID and spray them!  Local bee keepers can usually be found through your county extension office or the sheriff’s department.  Remember – most of the produce you enjoy eating; juicy sweet peaches, red ripe tomatoes, crunchy apples, oranges and their juice, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, almonds, summer squash, zucchini and pumpkin, crisp cucumbers, mouth-watering melons, cashews, creamy avocados, sunflowers and many more are pollinated by bees.

Here is the story in pictures.  I did miss my photog hubby shooting the entire process but Kevin stepped up and did his best to capture much of what went on.

Enjoy!

Inspection

Inspection

Is the honey ready for harvest?

Is the honey ready for harvest?

It takes two of us to move the heavy supers into the honey house.

It takes two of us to move the heavy supers into the honey house.

Stacking the full supers.

Stacking the full supers.

 

Supers full of honey weight between 80-100 pounds.

Supers full of honey weight between 80-100 pounds.

A frame full of beautiful honey fully capped and ready for harvest.

A frame full of beautiful honey fully capped and ready for harvest.

Rhonda takes her turn at cutting off the wax cappings.

Rhonda takes her turn at cutting off the wax cappings.

Kevin looks like a natural with that knife in his hand.

Kevin looks like a natural with that knife in his hand.

The extractor filled with supers full of honey ready to spin.

The extractor filled with supers full of honey ready to spin.

 

The first bit of honey drains out of the extractor.  I've got a finger ready for a taste.

The first bit of honey drains out of the extractor. I’ve got a finger ready for a taste.

I allow the honey to flow through a cloth strainer to remove any wax particles before transferring to the stainless steel holding tank.

I allow the honey to flow through a cloth strainer to remove any wax particles before transferring to the stainless steel holding tank.

 

Transferring honey from the straining bucket into the holding tank.  This is where the honey will sit for about 48 hours to allow air bubbles to rise to the top in preparation for bottling.

Transferring honey from the straining bucket into the holding tank. This is where the honey will sit for about 48 hours to allow air bubbles to rise to the top in preparation for bottling.

 

After the honey is spun out of the frames I take them back to the hives as a special treat for my bees.  They will clean out every last drop of honey, pollen, and wax, and use it for food or where needed in the hive.

After the honey is spun out of the frames I take them back to the hives as a special treat for my bees. They will clean out every last drop of honey, pollen, and wax, and use it for food or where needed in the hive.

The first jars full of 2013 honey.

The first jars full of 2013 honey.
18.5 gallons bottled in quart and pint jars.

18.5 gallons bottled in quart and pint jars.

This is the other special treat I take back to the bees.  These are the scraps from cutting off the wax cappings.  After it is set out on a table within about half an hour the bees are flocking to it and when they finish removing the honey and usable wax from this I am left with crumbs.  The bees know all about recycling!

This is the other special treat I take back to the bees. These are the scraps from cutting off the wax cappings. After it is set out on a table within about half an hour the bees are flocking to it and when they finish removing the honey and usable wax from this I am left with crumbs. The bees know all about recycling!

 

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About The Orange Bee

Food Blogger - Bee Keeper - Mom - Wife - Lover of Life
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