Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hey, Honey

We harvested some honey today! Our one year old hive of Russians is doing well and we felt confident enough in their winter honey supply to take a little bit of their golden yumminess. At first I thought it was going to take forever AND be sticky AND inefficient but it was only sticky.
Drew and I pulled three very full frames of capped honey from the second super in our hive; thank goodness for manly muscles, those things are weighing a ton these days and I couldn't have moved that top super if my life depended on it. The bees were extremely docile and I didn't feel like I needed to smoke them very much at all. Which was good since the smoker kept going out on us.
Drew went to the office and I set up shop on the kitchen counters. This consisted mostly of me putting the frames in their plastic bucket on the counter, wandering around trying to find my bee books, frantically searching YouTube for the great honey extraction video that I had seen last year and wondering how the hell I was going to get all that honey out of those frames!
Eventually I came upon a sort-of plan and Ivy and I uncapped the frames and let the honey drain into a food-grade plastic bucket for about an hour. While the honey was draining we decided to try a strainer method over another container, so we rigged an old hanger to cradle a very small mesh strainer put bits of comb into the strainer and let it drain. Meanwhile Ivy discovered that by gently scraping downward on the comb with a rubber spatula we could get the most honey out of the comb with almost no damage to the comb itself. I realize that the ideal is to return the frames to the hive with the comb intact. Ha. Ha. Anyway, after several hours of draining and straining we ended up with a half-gallon of honey. I'm elated at our success.
The hive looks fantastic. There are probably 50,000 bees in there as of today and four supers full of brood and honey. I expect I'll have a swarm next year as they will be ready to create a new hive somewhere. Maybe we can catch it?

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