Tag Archives: honey harvest

Brought to you by the letters H and S

In my third year of beekeeping, I believe I have found the magic formula for an enjoyable honey harvest.

  1. Use a bee escape
  2. Remove frames from hive
  3. Harvest honey
  4. Enjoy a delicious meal and a honey and spirits based beverage
  5. Bottle honey

Even though it has been near 100 degrees for the past few days, the bee escape did its job, and I had minimal bees in the supers for the harvest. I was able to pull two full eight frame supers off my Baab-Brock Farm’s hives.

Two Supers!

My spring time harvests have typically been a very light floral honey, and this harvest was no exception.

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The bee escape does remove all the bees from the super so pests will try and take advantage of the situation. In my case, I had to deal with small hive beetles but there was no place for them to hide.

Small hive beetle destruction

After the harvest, you do need to wait to let the honey separate from the wax if you are using the crush and strain method. Brenna found a delicious cocktail recipe that uses both honey and scotch called the Penicillin, and it cures what ails you.

Penicillin Cocktails

We probably pulled close to 50 pounds of honey today.

Two gallons of honey

Here is a great shot that shows 3 seasons of Worker Bee Honey with today’s harvest in the middle.

Three seasons of Worker Bee Honey

There is still a bunch of uncapped honey in both hives so I expect at least one more honey harvest before the Texas summer kills everything. I only hope we will get some good fall rains again this year so that our fall nectar flow is as good as our spring one.

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The Honey Must Flow

Before I get to the exciting honey news, Rosemary is trucking along, and I decided to remove the entrance reducer and add a third super to the hive.

Rosemary's Entrance Reducer Removed

She is starting to store honey in the frames so I also removed the feeder and will hopefully be done feeding this hive for the season. This is a good thing with her propensity for building wax on the inner cover with the feeder on. Nothing too bad this week, but I’m glad to be done with holding my breath every time I open the hive.

Wax on the Inner Cover

Moving on to Baab-Brock farms, Rue surprised me with her third super entirely filled with honey.

Honey frame in Rue's HIve

They are just starting to cap it so it is not quite ready to harvest. There must be a good flow on for them to basically fill out a super in a week’s time. My only concern with harvesting out of this hive is I was feeding them up until the 20th. While the bulk of this wax and honey has been drawn out in the past week, there could be a few frames of “honey” they may be the syrup I was feeding them.

The hero of this week is Knives 2.0 for having 2 supers filled with honey in various stages of curing. I was able to pick out 8 frames of capped honey for harvesting. I didn’t get a chance to use the bee escape as I was out of town for most of the weekend. I was concerned about brushing the bees off the combs, but Knives 2.0 makes some chill bees so it was a non-event.

One of the days I’m going to buy an extractor, but until then, it is the crush and strain method for me.

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Here is a shot of all the wax in the first straining bucket.

caps and comb

After it strains through the first bucket and then a fine mesh, it is ready to bottle.

Where Worker Bee Honey comes from

Please pay no attention to the cat. Worker Bee Honey is bottled in near cleanroom facilities.

Bottled in a highly hygenic facility

Bottling in Worker Bee Honey clothing is essential for extra flavor.

Worker Bee Honey worker bee #1

After all the honey drains, you are left with wax that needs to be melted and used for various fun projects. Stay tuned for those in future posts.

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Honey Harvest and Scotch Dinner

Even with this drought, Marge’s hive has still been managing to pack on the honey. One of the advantages of having a hive in an urban setting is that people have a variety of flowers in their gardens and often have watering systems to keep them blooming. Still, with no rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, this will be the last time I take any honey off until at least the late fall, and only if we see a considerable nectar flow sometime between now and then.

This being my fourth harvest, I think I’m finally getting it down to a science. The bee escape is the best invention ever and even with this hot weather, it is still very effective with only a few bees left in the honey super. Here are some shots of the frames of honey.

Honey Frame

Honey Frame

I’m still using the crush and strain method for extraction. One of these days I’ll get an extractor, but for now this works well and I do get a lot of beeswax for other projects.

Harvesting Honey

While we were waiting for the honey to settle through all the filters, we had a wonderful dinner and scotch tasting at Brenna’s house where we keep the hives.

Honey and Scotch Dinner

We pulled right around 25 pounds off this 8 frame super, and it is the same color and consistency of our previous honey harvest.

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Large Marge takes her honey dark…like her men.

I pulled 8 full frames of honey off the hive today. The bee escape worked great, and there were only a handful of girls left in the super that were easily removed. I still don’t have an extractor so I harvested the honey using the crush and strain method. One of these days I would like to get a small extractor, but right now this method isn’t too time consuming plus I like the added benefit of having beeswax for projects.

Overall, I pulled off just shy of 25 pounds of honey which was very dark compared to last year’s fall harvest which in turn was darker than the initial 2010 spring harvest. I think I’m going to break down and send a sample off for pollen analysis because I’m very curious about the pollen counts. Here is a side by side shot of last year’s fall honey on the left and the recent harvest on the right.

2011 First Honey Harvest

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I reveal the not so sweet side of honey harvesting.

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Honey Harvest Take 2

It turns out I was only able to take off 4 frames of honey this week instead of a full eight because I accidentally put the wrong super in the top position yesterday which was extremely frustrating. All in all, I think the mistakes I have made so far have been relatively minor and has not hurt the hive in the long run.

Frames full of honey

This time I extracted the honey at the site of the hive so I could put the frames right back in to be cleaned up by the girls. Also, the honey is extracted a lot easier when wearing a baby blue headband that gives +2 against spills. Last week I tried cleaning the frames and that didn’t work at all. Anybody know what the best thing to do with frames after extraction if you can’t get back to your hive right away?

Scraping the comb from the frame

I also got another batch of wax cappings and comb that I will process in the next week or so after I build a solar wax melter. I’m going to try the low cost version from Linda’s Bees blog. I figure it gets above 95 most days here in Austin in the summer time so this version will work well here in the south. There was a bit more pollen in these frames which is the darker stuff in the middle of the photo.

Mmm... beeswax

All in all, I got about another 20 pounds of honey this week. My expectations for the first year were little to no honey so kudos to Large Marge and crew for doing so well. If I can just keep them from swarming this first year, everything will be going great.

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I think I need a bigger boat…

Sunday afternoon I checked on the hive to see how the bee escape was working. After 36 hours, almost all the bees were out of the 4th super which let me easily harvest 3 full frames of honey. For some reason, I thought there were at least 5 frames ready in the 4th super, but I was mistaken. That will teach me to take better notes next time I inspect my hive.

I replaced the frames I removed and then took off the bee escape. The girls looked super crowded being forced back into just 3 supers so I’m sure they were happy to get back in the 4th again.

I setup my harvesting station in the kitchen. I have a two 5 gallon bucket system that I purchased from Brushy Mountain that strains your honey as well as having a honey gate to allow you to bottle.

Extracting Setup

For this type of extraction, you scape off the comb and honey into the first bucket.

Scraping off the honey

Here’s a closer shot of the sweet sweet honey on the frame.

Taking honey off the frame

The top bucket has a sieve that catches the wax cappings. I saved those to be melted at a later date to get some beeswax. I put it in a baggie and stuck it in the freezer.

Wax cappings

The honey goes through the sieve and then through a nylon mesh bag for further straining. After that it ends up in the bottom bucket ready to be bottled.

Honey in bucket

After that you can bottle the honey. Three full frames got me 21 8 oz. bottles of honey. Considering the 3rd super is all honey and the 4th is well on its way as well, I need to get a lot more bottles here quickly.

Bottled Honey

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