Friday, April 15, 2016

THIS.

This is what I've been (not so) patiently waiting for: springtime, and the chance to check on the bees. And maybe even get some honey. I wasn't sure, you know, that there would be any for me to harvest. But the weather has been consistently good, the dandelions are blooming, and it seemed like time to remove the insulation panels and take a peek inside.

After I got home from work yesterday I went out (gearless, mind you, although I wondered if I should suit up) with my tools and removed the insulation. Next I had to attach the hardware to put the window cover back. I hadn't been planning on getting in to check on the bees but my curiosity got the better of me and I opened up the hive. First I removed the fondant boards. They'd eaten through about half of one and almost none of the next. I set those aside and started looking at the combs. The first one I pulled out had a little honey but was mostly empty comb. The second was mostly capped honey cells. The third was the one in the photo - almost entirely capped honey cells and very heavy. I set them aside and peeked at a fourth comb. This one was also mostly capped on the back but open on the front. Figuring that was where the bees were feeding most recently I left that one alone. I moved the false back all the way to the back and moved an empty comb forward. Then I closed up the hive and took these combs, surprisingly bee-free, into the house.

Did I mention I hadn't been planning on doing this? 

I took a big pot and cut the combs off the bars and into the pot. (The bars were later returned to the hive because they had comb remnants on them and it seemed a better place for the bees to start another comb.) Then I broke the combs into smaller pieces so I could crush them up. I felt like a bear, breaking combs apart with my paws, stopping every once in a while to lick a finger or chew on a little comb. (Don't worry, I washed my hands often!) After a few attempts at filtering I settled on a wire mesh strainer over a large sturdy plastic pitcher. It's been a day and the last of it is still straining but, here:
is the first jar of honey I've ever harvested.

And without my gear! I'm so proud of myself for being brave/stupid enough to do that.

All told, I have 7 cups of honey and might get another half a cup before all this is over. It's denser that other local honeys I've bought, likely because it spent the winter getting thicker. It's not as sweet; we did a taste test today. But it does have a floral taste. Sometime in the next day or so I'll take the wax, melt it down, and give it to my friend who is starting to make soap. For those of you who were hoping to join me when I did this, sorry, it sort of happened, but I still will have to do a bar by bar inspection in about a month so we'll plan on that...

Today the bees were very active, bringing in every color of pollen imaginable. Even that pretty blue. 

2 comments:

  1. All the wax, melted down, yielded 4.5 ounces of wax. I don't know how much my friend needs, but it's a start!

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  2. Ah, golden success! Well done!

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