Bee Diary: Honey Extraction

06-27-10_package-colonyLughnasa                                   Waning Artemis Moon

The honey extraction has begun.  Kate and I assembled the extractor this morning.  I am not at my best during the accomplishing of mechanical tasks and got a bit testy.  Kate gave me some space; reengaged.  Then I considered aligning myself with the flow of our day–instead of bucking it because I felt incompetent, got my head and heart back in connection and we solved a problem together.  The directions for attaching the power unit were, to be kind, vague.  Bordered on the non-existent, really.  Together, however, we figured out to raise the drive shaft far enough to makes its union with the industrial strength Baldor motor work tight.  It’s a work-around for now, but I’ll connect with the folks at Dadant and we’ll get it done right after we’re finished with the honey harvest tomorrow.

I removed four frames from the package colony, a gift really, since its primary job this year was to grow into a parent colony that I can divide next spring.  The bees do not like it when you take their honey.  I have one sting to show for that.

There were several lessons from the honey super removal.  First, I put the empty super that held the frames after I removed them from the hive in the wagon attached to the lawn tractor.  Worked well logistically for me, but I ended up with an inch deep and foot square pile of mad bees on the bed of the wagon.  I had to use the bee-brush to brush them all onto the ground.  That made them even less happy.  I realized that doing several colonies and working each colony in turn would result in one bee yard full of mad bees.

So, tomorrow I will put the empty honey super on my standby, the wheel barrow with a wire dog crate door on it.  Don’t laugh.  It works.  That way the left over bees will be either in the wheel-barrow or on the ground, not in the wagon bed.

Second, the package colonies frames were not 80% capped, so I had to heat the honey to 145 to kill yeast and avoid fermentation.  Heating the honey turned tricky when it climbed above 145 to 160. I’m sure the yeast are dead now, but I don’t know yet what we’ve done to the taste of the honey.

Our extractor holds six honey super frames and we only put in four so that made balance a little tricky at first.  The extractor is very much like a washing machine, though the extracting baskets rotate rather than agitate.  It acted like a washing machine with a load of rugs, really gyrating at much above 60% speed.  So, we ran it at about 58%.  Took about 20-30 minutes.

We got a lot of honey.  From four frames.  I’m thinking we may have more than I imagined. We’ll see tomorrow.

This entry was posted in Bees and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.