35lbs of Liquid Gold


As you can see from my posts, being a Beekeeper has lots of trouble and heartache. There are times of great joy as well. These times come in the form of harvesting honey. I have gotten fairly adept at harvesting honey from my hives. It can be very messy and lots of work but the end result is liquid gold 😊 I recently harvested honey from my one remaining hive. See the previous post about how I got 20lbs of honey from the hive that swarmed. I don't sell honey, right now anyway, so this is just for my wife and I and our family and friends. I will try to detail the process I go through to extract honey on this post. Many people take their supers in to a local bee supply store and pay to have them extract the honey, but I prefer to do it on my own.

First we get suited up and get all our equipment ready for extracting honey.

As you see we load the wheelbarrow with a container, smoker, brush and blower. Sometimes I get the bees off a frame at a time and put them in a container, or sometimes I just blow the bees out of the whole super and bring the entire super down. Today I ended up bringing the whole supers down. The leaf blower is used to blow the bees out of the supers. You can also use a brush to brush them off each frame. They get mad about being blown, so if you live in a neighborhood it might not be the best choice 😁 Use of the smoker should be minimal so that you don't get smoke in your honey, but I have never noticed any smoke flavor or smell in mine. 

Here you see I have brought my super down to my shed and am blowing the bees out, then putting the frames I want to harvest into the container. As I said you can do this at the hive but sometimes it is easier to do it where you have more equipment available. I blew most of the bees out at the hive before I brought them down then just had to get rid of a few that remained.

I have gotten pretty good uncapping the capped honey with an uncapping fork. I use a glass casserole dish to put one end of the frame in while I uncap the wax. You want to get as little of the wax as possible scrapping of the caps on the edge of the dish often. 

Like I said many people take their frames to a bee store to pay to have their honey extracted. I bought this two frame extractor when I first got into bee keeping for about $200. I like the flexibility I get by being able to spin out as few frames as I want. I only keep two hives at a time so I never have more than 10 frames to extract, so this works great for me. You can see that I also put the caps in the strainer to get the honey out of them as well. I will leave the caps there for 24 hours, stirring them around, to allow all honey to drain out. We keep the caps to be for be wax products.

It is a good idea to check the moister content of your honey with a refractometer. You want the moister of your honey to be below 18%. This batch was below 17% right out of the hive, a reason to harvest capped honey. Uncapped honey it not as refined and moister free as capped.. If it is high you need to let it sit with a cloth over the top for a while before bottling or it may ferment and blow the tops off. I let mine sit a week even though it had low moister already. If you want to get rid of even more moister, I have heard of people putting the bucket in a closet with a dehumidifier. I have never had to do this.

And here is the fruit of all our hard work. Almost 35lbs of honey. I bottle over the sink straight out of my 5 gallon bucket that I extracted into, with barely a drip.

I put the extracted frames back on the hives to allow the bees to clean them up. Also, since I did not destroy the wax they can get right back to making honey again without the worry of drawing out wax.

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