Last week I was up to my elbows in honey, as I prepared my hive for its new residents, arriving sometime the second week of April. My first batch of bees arrived last April, and blogging about their installation was one of my first posts on this blog. Unfortunately, my bees up and left sometime in December, for reasons which are still unknown to me. But, they left behind a hive full of honey and other interesting specimens.
In January, I put the hive atop a wheely cart and visited my kids’s classrooms, talking to their classmates about raising bees and where honey comes from and all that. Ever since, when I visit their classes, one or two children always come up to ask when the honey will be ready. I decided that last week was the time to get to it!
The two supers – the bottom one, closest to you, is the main box with the brood chamber and pollen stores. It is where the queen lives. The one in the back is the second super I added, mostly for more brood, but I think my bees ended up using it for honey storage.
This is a frame with brood comb built up – the brood chamber is where the queen lays her eggs.
Up close on the brood frame. You can see a white larvae, and just down from that, what looks like an emerging bee.
These bees are actually not alive, but they remained on the comb, and I thought they were really photogenic.
These are frames with capped and uncapped honeycomb. I use a special fork-like tool to scrape the cappings off. I save them, along with the beeswax from the comb and will melt it and see what fun projects come about.
And now onto harvesting the honey:
My bench scraper came in very handy for this process – I scraped the honey, along with comb, off the frame and into a colander set over a bucket. The bucket is from Safeway – I went to the Bakery and asked for an empty food-safe bucket. They were kind enough to provide one for this project.
After a day, most of the honey had drained down into the bucket, leaving the colander full of cappings and beeswax. I soaked the cappings and beeswax in water for two days, changing the water every 24 hours, and then left the wax dry. I have it stored in a container until later when I have time to melt the beeswax down.
The honey still had some small bits of beeswax floating on the top, so when I filled a couple jars, I strained the honey again. When the honey bears arrive, I will have to figure out another way to get the honey in that is less labor intensive and messy. Perhaps I will look into cheesecloth.
Final product – half-pint jars of Northern California honey! Such a sweet treat 🙂