Bee Diary: Honey Extraction, Day 2

Lughnasa                                       Waning Artemis Moon

Artemis Hives have given up their surplus honey, all under the Artemis moon.  We started this morning with Kate putting a plastic drop cloth down on the deck while I went out to the colonies to see what was still there.  The divide had, as I expected, nothing.  That means, oddly enough, that they will need to be fed over the next few weeks before winter sets in.  The parent colony, the big dog as far as honey production, produced a good bit.  Two full supers plus maybe half of a third.  We’re well over three gallons now, probably closer to five.  I’ll get an exact count soon.

Honey extraction has its straightforward side.  Take the full frames, stick them long side up in the honey extractor and turn it on.  If there is a significant amount of 400_honey-extraction_0239capping, there is an additional step, uncapping.  Kate did this chore with the electric uncapping knife.  We had at least one extractor run with 80% or more capped.  This honey was darker.  We can bottle it right out of the extractor after filtering.

(Kate inspecting a frame to see if the honey has been extracted.)

The rest had less to no capping.  That honey has a higher moisture content and, as I said yesterday, has to be heated to kill the yeast and thereby avoid fermentation.  The taste difference is insignificant to my palate.

When we spun out the first six frames, all went well.  We emptied the extractor, took the honey in and Kate heated it.  By the time I brought the next two supers full of honey frames, however, the bees had found us.  It took a bit longer because we were further from the hive than the honey house (at least the building I’d intended to serve as a honey house.), but they found us.  After that, all sticky, sweet operations had numerous bees in attendance.  They were not aggressive, but they made the process a bit more nerve racking.

Once again the heat caused sweat to cascade over my eyebrows and into my eyes, inside the bee suit where the eyes cannot be reached by hand.  I wore the bee suit because the bees are more defensive during honey removal.  Makes sense.  But that damned bee suit amps up the humidity and heat.  Not fun.

We now have half-pint, pint and quart jars filled with an amber liquid, a sweet product made, collected and bottled right here at Artemis Hives.

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