It feels good waking up in the morning knowing that today you get to harvest. That’s my favorite part of this game. It’s mid July and already our fourth harvest which brings us to a total of 31 kg of pure deliciousness. Pure, as in its most natural form – nothing added to it! No chemical treatments, no antibiotics nor substitutes containing GMO’s fed to them – just the nectar of flowers and blossoms from our garden.
If you wanted to, you could start sipping it right out of the cells of the frame. You may get wax in your teeth though so wait until you start extracting it. While you’re bottling, you’ll probably spill some anyways (oooops, haha).
An extractor can be a device made from an aluminum garbage can with a built-in cage that houses four frames. The wire mesh cage in the centre is connected to a wheel at the top, powered by a motor (if you want muscular arms, use a hand-crank model). All we have to do is uncap the honey cells (pic 1 below), insert four frames (pic 2), turn on the power and a centrifugal force makes the honey fly up against the walls of the can as it rotates for about 10 minutes for each side (pic 3).
At the bottom there is a hole from which the honey will flow into a sieve filtering out bits of wax. Caution: resist the urge to get out a spoon. That comes later.
Now for the somewhat guilty part of the pleasure. Taking those frames away from the bees is done in two steps. Ideally we want a bee free procedure.
We will insert a bee escape board underneath the honey super a day to two before harvesting. It is used to remove the bees by creating a “one way passage” (not really but the bees don’t figure that out till later) from the top honey super to the brood supers underneath. When the bees realize they’re stuck upstairs and cannot smell the pheromone of their mother or need to go foraging, they will crawl downstairs, through this maze-like passage that brings them back to the brood.
When I checked this morning, most of the bees had gone downstairs. The rest are shaken or swept off but it is my least favorite thing to do. Especially when I then proceed to remove 9 frames full of honey right in front of their five eyes. That’s right, they have two visible ones and three little ones for maneuvering around in those dark hives.
With our loot quickly inside and a clean area that’s been set up to include a shallow large pan over which I uncap the honey, some wet cloths to wipe my honey paws, and a few tools such as the uncapping fork and a wrench to tighten the bolt, we can soon begin bottling.
Like mother, like daughter (see pics below)
Words of wisdom: A spoonful of honey a day, keeps the doctor away. (I know, it used be “apple” but recent studies suggest otherwise). Bon appetit!