J and I had two hefty supers filled with honey when our hive swarmed. That swarm took a fair portion of those resources for starting their new home. We felt the sting of missed opportunity when that bountiful and early honey harvest slipped through our fingers. The experience led us to doing some research and we have gained valuable information about swarm management from experience beekeepers and other resources. We decided to harvest honey from the remaining full super. We talked with fellow beekeeper Jessie Howe of Everich Honey Farm. He was willing to share his knowledge and equipment for honey extracting and we arranged an evening to get together. By the time we got to it; that super no longer contained what we needed. We were looking for frames that were at least 80% full of capped honey but too much of what we were seeing was not capped. Uncapped honey contains a greater percentage of water which will cause your harvest to ferment. Upon further investigation, it looked as though the honey may have been moved to the super below. I’m not sure what our bees were up to but that is where we found three nice frames of capped honey.
This is J uncapping the honey cells. We learned that we should only be putting 9 frames into our 10 frame supers so that the cells can be built out beyond the level of the frame This makes the process more efficient.
This is Jesse and J spinning out the three uncapped frames. It is a simple procedure with the honey spinning out to the walls of the stainless steel container and falling to the bottom. After spinning the frames through the first time; they flipped them over to spin out the other side. J opened the yellow gate at the bottom and let the honey pour into our containers. We licked our sticky fingers, said our goodbyes, and took our newly separated frames and honey home.
At home, we warmed the honey just a bit to allow it to move through a sieve to filter out wax and other bee stuff. This resulted in six pounds of sweet golden honey.
Honey is a big deal! As I admire the bottles on the shelf, I consider what was necessary to put them there:
- Honeybees that are healthy and productive
- Pollen and nectar from the flowers and trees in our local community
- The interest and curiosity and good will of our nearest neighbors
- My dear partner in crime who, with admirable enthusiasm, invests his time, energy, and finances into this project
- Many teachers and beekeepers who patiently share their time, resources, and knowledge with us: Mark Antunes from the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association (the website seems to be down right now but Mark’s contact info is here), Jim Bobb, Warren Graham (I’ve linked to an informative talk about beekeeping that Warren did for a garden club), Joe Duffy, Harold Jenkins, and Jesse. We met Jesse through his farmers’ market presence and began to, regularly, buy his honey. He has always been patient with our questions and stories about beekeeping. You can find him at the Glenside farmers market and the Creekside Co-op farmers market. If this post has you drooling for some of the gold; be sure to head down to one of these markets and pick some up. He, also, sells homemade beeswax candles at his Everich Honey Farm stand.