Thursday, August 7, 2014

First Honey Harvest

This past weekend we had another adventure into the hives. They were getting towards the back, so we had to go in and see what was going on and possibly remove a few comb.

The good news is that with our past adjustments the pine hive never did swarm and seems to have settled in to make honey. So DH and I suited up and headed up to the apiaries. 

We started with the pine hive and worked from the back forward. We have a tub that we set the top bars in as we're working. Turns out that the pine hive was already building on the last top bar. This is the comb they were working on, filled with dehydrating nectar:

Here's another few comb, the foremost one is honeycomb at the top (that's capped honey), then empty comb at the bottom and a small patch of brood comb at the lower left:

And a whole bunch of top bars:

We decided on two comb to remove from the cedar hive, one that was build all wonky and a second that was mostly empty brood comb. That was we could encourage a smaller brood nest and give them more room to build up their honeycomb stores for winter. Then we went into the cedar hive. This hive had no wonky comb, except the front one, which we left. I have no idea what the hell they're doing, but I was feeling like it was going to be a mess just trying to get that one out XD The biggest concern with wonky comb is that they'll keep that same pattern for the rest of them, but since the comb following was fine we weren't worried.
Here are the comb we decided to remove.  They had honey comb at the top, which we'd already broken off:
After everything was put away we were able to appreciate our spoils:

And then it was into the house for processing! Here's our honeycomb. The weight on the scale is including the bowl. Once I melted down the wax, weighed that, and then weighed the bowl I figured out we got about 4.5 pounds of honey. That's way more than I expected from just taking out three junk comb!
We really didn't have enough to justify using our big straining buckets, but I wanted to try anyway. There's two buckets, and the top filters into the bottom one with the valve. 
I started by loading the comb into the top bucket, which has a punched metal floor and then a mesh bag for filtering:
And then squished it up with the potato masher:
And this is all we had. it didn't even come up to the bottom of the valve:

But in practice it turned out to be quite a lot! I kept some capped honecomb (because I love eating it), but here's the rest all bottled up. We had a side of cranberry and quinoa with dinner and drizzled honey on the top. It was *amazing*.
A small jar and some circular comb going off to my best friend:


All the same honey, just different thicnkesses/amounts so the smaller jar appears more golden and the most full jar the darkest.

Safe to say, this is SUCH a fun hobby. It's much more fun and much cooler than I ever expected, stings and all.


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