Our bees have been hard at work this year, helping to create one of the most abundant fruiting seasons that I can recall. (After two years where we could literally count the number of apples on the old tree, it’s amazing to look up and see hundreds of ripe fruits!) And now we are even more grateful for their work as we enjoy the sweet reward of their efforts – honey.
It had been a few years since I’ve donned a bee suit, and I was very excited to help with the harvest. I have to admit that I’m a tiny little bit squeamish about the whole process. Putting on a suit that is way too big for me and standing in the hot sun with smoke in my face, while hundred of angry bees dive bomb my head is not usually my idea of fun. But I breathed deeply and channeled my inner Waldorf teacher as I sang sweet, soft songs to the bees to keep them (okay, to keep me) calm. It mostly worked, until Everett woke from his nap and cried for me. Then my mommy adrenaline kicked into gear, and I swear, they bees knew it. They immediate went for me. I dropped my tools and ran for the house, and my gracious father-in-law, Ron, kindly stepped in (many of these great photos are courtesy of Ron).
How to Harvest Honey from a Beehive
That’s me brushing off bees from the frame and Brian holding.
See the white caps on the frame? That’s capped honey. Many of the top boxes were not full – probably because we had a huge swarm leave the hive in June. The frames went into an empty box, and then into our house for the extraction process.
Removing the wax caps from the frame. This year we used a cappings scratcher instead of a decapping knife. It was a bit slower going, but quite simple. I highly recommend it for hobby beekeepers.
Close up of the process. The caps fell into a plastic tub, which we later rinsed with fresh water and created a delicious honey lemonade. The beeswax was then separated out from the rinse water for future projects such as making beeswax candles, or adding to salves.
Both sides need to be de-capped, and then the frames go into the extractor.
This extractor fits four frames at a time.
Ella got the spinning started, and then Brian gave it a strong finish. Centrifugal force causes the honey to eject from the frames, and it collects at the bottom of the stainless steel basket.
Then it’s time to filter the honey. We keep our honey 100% raw. No heat is ever used in the extraction process.
The judges sample the honey. They both approved.
The whole process took about 5 hours, and in the end, we had collected about 8 gallons of honey from two hives.
The best part of this entire process – the bees do the cleaning up for you! We leave the frames in a safe location, and let the bees come and collect any leftover honey bits.
Harvesting honey is such a satisfying reward after months of anticipation!
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Charlotte Anderson says
Looks like you have a sweet harvest. There is nothing like harvesting honey. It is so exciting the first time or if you have been doing it for years.
Teri Page says
It’s so true!
Wow! It is amazing to see how it all happens. My husband and I been toying with the idea of our own hive for the past couple of years and you have definitely inspired us to look further into it. There are few things quite as tasty as honey and I greatly prefer honey for making my homemade bread. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!
Hi Simone! It’s so much fun to see the whole process unfold. I really enjoyed Ashley English’s beekeeping book – it was full of great information, but in a format that was very easy to digest. If you’re thinking about bees, it’s a good resource to check out!
beautiful as always! Great photos!
That is soooo cool! Thanks for posting that with pictures, it’s fascinating! We hope to have bees one day, too. Have you guys ever made mead with your honey?
yes, we have made mead with the honey, although my husband is the alcohol ferment expert in the family. We’ve done blackberry mead as well as just a straight up honey mead.
Awesome! Wish we could do this, too!
Is it legal in CG? I’ve heard that people put them on rooftops in urban areas!
Charlton Estate Trust says
I enjoyed your blog. More please!