Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall is Here...and so is Fall Honey!

I have pulled out the spent corn plants, composted the squash vines and canned up the remaining bounty from the summer’s ‘crops’.  The days are getting shorter and the mornings are cold.  Fall is really setting in here in the central valley.  One of our last tasks in preparation for winter is taking care of our bees so that they will be safe through the winter.  This involves inspecting the hives for any pests, making sure they have good honey stores to get them through the cold rainy months when there isn’t any pollen to be had and lastly…harvesting honey!  Yea! 
When we opened the hive boxes we were please to find that our girls had been cranking on the honey production.  In the world of beekeeping the bottom two boxes in a bee hive belong to the bees, a place to lay eggs and store the honey they will need for themselves.  Any boxes that are added on top of that are basically filled with honey we can have.  We only added one box to the stack this year as we got sort of a late start, spring dawdling around on it’s arrival and all, but when we opened  up this top box it was chuck full of wonderful honey.  I am particularly fond of fall honey.  It is much darker than the honey that is produced in the spring and has a much more intense flavor.  I guess the difference between the lovely light spring flowers and the hearty summer fruits and vegetables causes this difference. 
The process of harvesting honey is simply to remove the box, remove the frames from inside, open the cells in the honey comb to expose the ‘golden nectar’ and then place the frames in a spinner that spins the honey out of the comb.  I am happy to say that this year, being the experience beekeepers we are (hahahahaha) we have gotten pretty efficient at the honey extraction process and better yet the entire house wasn’t sticky as it had been in the past!  We harvested about 30 LBS. of honey that we can now put in jars to enjoy and share with friends until spring rolls around and the cycle begins again.  In the mean time the bees will have to live off their honey stores, not having much pollen to harvest through the  winter months, and stay safe and dry in their hive

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