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How to Extract Delicious Fresh Honey from Bee Hive Honey Frames
Having bees has obvious rewards and some not so obvious. A clear golden jar of honey just waiting to be spread on some warm homemade bread is an obvious reward for sure. This is the main reason most people get started beekeeping, and makes it all worthwhile.
But caring for a miraculously organized group of insects and taking pride in their work is unexpectedly moving. When I spy one of my bees sipping a drink from the beads of water on a growing curly kale, or hear the industrious hum around my tomato plants, I feel the same warm feeling that I do when watching my chickens dust-bathing, and scratching for bugs. Our tomato crops have never been heavier. The raspberry canes loaded with juicy berries.
I will show you how easy the honey extraction is. With the dwindling bee populations world-wide, these amazing creatures can use all the help they can with new beekeepers caring for them and getting started with their own beehives.
As someone who loves to harvest and collect and create things from the farm, the honey extraction is an extremely rewarding thing. It's the third time we've done it and it is really easy.
Three Types of Honey on the Frames
Looking at the heavy honey supers
As you can see there are three different coloured honeys on the frames, gathered over the summer when different flowers were in bloom.
There are old and new style frames some wood, one newer style plastic all one piece. This makes extraction easier as the middle plastic piece in the wood ones can get centrifuged right out.
Tools to get started
Cover the counter in a new garbage bag, it makes it easier to find the honey which gets absolutely everywhere!
Have your tools ready, a long uncapping knife, scrapers and uncapper with teeth, aluminum tray for catching honey and cappings. When extracting large amounts of honey, beekeepers can use heated uncapping knives.
Cleaning the Honey Frames
Scraping of the propolis (bee glue) and extra wax off the edges of the frame. A convenient time in the year to clean these up and discourage more glue being added by the bees.
Uncapping the Frames
The thin top layer of tissue-thin beeswax is carefully removed or uncapped with a serrated knife.
Sliding the wax cap off
The cap tends to stay put after it is cut. Surface tension and sticky honey mean it needs some help to be removed.
Cleaning up the last few cells
Scraping any missed uncapped cells with the uncapper. If this is not done the honey will stay in the frame extraction.
The heavy glistening frame of honey is then ready for extraction.
Extracting the Honey
The uncapped honey frames are placed in the extractor. Our Dadant stainless steel manual extractor holds 4 frames. Ours spins manually but beekeepers with more hives often have extractors that hold 10 frames and have an electric motor.
Spinning the extractor basket
As the extractor basket spins, the honey is pulled out in tiny golden threads that flick out on to the outer wall of the actractor. It runs down the sides and collects in the bottome. When no more honey come out, our extractor requires you take them out switch sides and spin that out.
Filtering the Honey
We put the extractor on a table and tilt it and the honey gate on the bottom lets the honey out to be filtered. The dark area of wax in the strainer is propolis. The strainer is a special honey strainer and removes the larger particles of wax. It does leave the smallest particles of wax in the honey which adds to the flavour.
Takes a long time
We fill the strainer a number of times over the course of hours to strain the honey, usually about 24 hours to do 8 frames worth of honey.
Commercial apiaries often heat at this stage to make the honey less thick so it runs through faster. Heating over 35 degrees Celsius will lead to the denaturing of the beneficial enzymes in the honey and it will lose many of it's health benefits. That's why it is so nice to produce and collect your own raw or unpasteurized honey.
Ready to Bottle
The honey is strained here and ready to bottle into clean new jars.
The amber jars look beautiful all lined up with the light shining through them. They are delicious to open all winter long and spread on that fresh crusty bread.
If you are curious and think this is something you might do.....
There is relevant information available. Getting started in such a different area is daunting, there is how to avoid being stung. It took me 11 years to take the plunge. Not having a mentor is difficult, and it is better if you know someone who can help.
But getting a good DVD and Reading Resources program gives you the confidence to go ahead after years of wondering, "Can I do it?" and "Am I Brave enough?". If you are really intrigued by all this, you are ready! Click for more information here on setting up a BeeHive