Thursday, July 22, 2010

There's Honey in These Here Hives!

We have honey! We did a check of the hive the other day and I am here to tell you, those little gals have been crankin’ and the hive is crazy with honey! We have learned that from about now until the end of September or October there is a huge amount of nectar collection and hives will produce a great deal of honey, which is what prompted us to check the hive to begin with. It is truly amazing what has occurred. If you will recall, the last time we checked the hive, back at the end of June, there was honey, but we felt we needed to give them a bit more time to really start filling things up. Well, in under a month they have filled up every square inch! So much so that we have added yet another box – don’t want to inhibit honey production, heaven knows! We figured if we took a bit of honey now and then left them be until the end of September we could do one really big harvest before we got them ready for the winter
So the harvesting began…we removed three small frames which are actually quite heavy, proportionately, when filled with comb and honey on both sides…they say that the small frames weigh about three lbs. each when full! Getting the bees off the comb was quite a task, they are rather attached to their product it seems! Once we managed that, we replaced the frames with new ones so that they could start the process all over again. Then we took the frames into the house, there came a bit of ‘okay, now what do we do’! The honey is ‘capped’ meaning it’s all sealed up. When the bees first put the honey in the comb it has a high percentage of water in it, so the bees just let it sit until the water evaporates, at that point the honey is considered ‘ripe’ and the bees cap it with wax. So, to get to the honey you need to ‘uncap’ it…then the honey can drain from the comb.
The object is to leave as much of the comb intact so that when you return the frame to the hive, the bees don’t have to build the comb from scratch, it’s more of a clean and repair type project. Well as newbies at this we pretty well destroyed the comb, so then we needed to strain the wax out of the honey – very sticky…but the good news is then we had nice beeswax for a candle! Our little harvest produced three quart jars of beautiful golden honey! And, oh my gosh is it yummy! At this rate we will be able to share with friends and family after the fall harvest or as one friend suggested…we can make mead…hmmmm!

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