• Tag Archives honey extraction
  • A Calmer Week Ahead

    Mid-Summer                                                                        New Honey Extraction Moon

    Kate and I bought a new vehicle yesterday, a Toyota Rav-4.  Well, we picked out the things we wanted, left a deposit and now wait for the finding.  This may not be big news in most families, but the last time we bought a new vehicle was 1999 and before that it was 1994.  Until Wednesday we still had both of them.  The Tundra, the 1999 purchase, fell thanks to an oil-pressure hose providing cooling to the transmission.  It blew, taking with it other essential fluids, the engine and the transmission.  Bad luck.  The Celica motors on, at its next oil change it will hit 275,000 miles.  Toyota’s last and that’s what I want, have always wanted, in a car.

    Our life has coasted back to a familiar routine from the intense clay week followed by the intense family week.  Both were good, positive experiences, but there are reasons these events last short periods of time and the calmer times last longer.

    Got a note from Mary, safely back in Singapore, who observed that international travel was easier than intra-US.  She had a variety of air-related mishaps in her two weeks plus of traveling the US by plane.

    Kate and I need to spend time in our gardens, two weeks away from them at this time of year leaves weeds as happy as the plants we want 400_honey-extraction_0244there.  Also, the tomatoes have begun to ripen, peas have played out for now, though I’ll probably plant a fall crop, the beets have begun to fatten up (second planting), carrots, too.  Chard and spinach look good and they, too, need replanting for fall harvest.

    August will find us once again with the honey extractor set up, frames to uncap and jars to fill.  Mark Odegard has begun work on the 2011 version of the Artemis Honey label.  His first efforts looked good to me, but he’s a skilled professional and keeps adjusting, trying new things.  We’ll try this year to uninvite the bees to the extracting party.  They become a big bother, not appreciating the heist of their summer’s work.  Who can blame them?  Though, I should add, they put up a surplus well beyond what their winter survival requires.   That’s why bee-keeping works in the first place.

  • Gooseberries and Bees

    Spring                                                                                 Waning Bee Hiving Moon

    Yet more work on Missing this morning.  Still at play in the Winter Forest, up in the Dark Range, around the shores of Lake Arcas and on the waters of the Winter Sea.  It is so difficult 640cranes-photographto know what the quality is of your own work.  Very difficult.  Some say impossible.  May well be.  This one feels, however, like the best work I’ve done to date.  But, hey, that’s just the author speaking.  What does he know anyhow?

    (photograph by Tom Crane)

    This afternoon Mark and I transplanted four gooseberry from their shade sheltered residence along the west facing side of our hour to an east and south facing slope in the third tier of our perennial beds.  As we worked digging the holes to receive the shrubs, then digging the gooseberry plants prior to placing them in their new homes, bees buzzed around the deck, drawn, I imagine, by the residue of last year’s honey extraction.  Now long over as far as we know, last August, fall rains have pounded the deck.  Snow has piled up it over two feet high and that has washed away with spring rains, yet the delicate sensory apparatus of the honeybee knows that something was done here, something relating to honey.  Perhaps bees have their own CSI crews.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Harvest Season

    Lughnasa                                               Full Artemis Moon

    Ragged.  Bug-ridden.  Tired out.  The garden needs attention, too.  Stole this one from a Star-Trib column this morning.  It’s true, though, that the garden has begun to head toward the compost pile.  That’s what harvest means, the plants die or die back and we take the seed pods or roots or stalks and leaves.  This year the harvest will include honey.

    The shiny stainless steel extractor, sans motor which is still on its way, now sits outside on our deck along with the plastic pail with its 200 micron filter and its 600 micron filter.  There is, too, a Rubbermaid commercial product which is an uncapping container over which we remove the covers on the honeycomb.  After uncapping, they go in the extractor.  After the extractor the honey gets filtered twice and then stored in a plastic pail while awaiting bottling.

    Also getting a big load of mulch today, more for the orchard and the vegetable garden.

  • Bee Diary Supplemental

    Summer                                     Full Grandchildren Moon

    Kate’s made the woodenware for Artemis Hives.  Dave Schroeder suggested we mark each piece with the year made.  As we start eliminating frames and hive boxes on a five year cycle, we’ve got the record right on the box.  This year, with no marks, will be 2010.  Next year she’ll start marking them year by year.

    Kate and I have been investigating honey extracting equipment.  It’s not cheap, but it’s not break the bank expensive either.  We have to have a certain level of equipment to lw-pwr-extractorget from honey supers to bottled honey, most of which will go in canning jars, but some will go in fancy jars as gifts or to sell at a farmer’s market.  This is the next to last phase of beekeeping and one still new to me.  The last phase of beekeeping comes after the honey extraction.  The colonies will need inspection for varroa mites and nosema before late fall.  Doing this stuff is also new to me, but I have to learn at some point.

    (this is one unit we’re considering right now.)

    We had a designer come out to discuss a water feature for our patio area.  He showed us some brochures, talked with us a bit and recommended a pondless solution.  Sounds great to me.  Once you’ve had a swimming pool, you know the hassle pond maintenance brings in its trail.  This one has a pump and running water filtered through sand and rock.  It’s not cheap, however, so we’ll have to decide.

    Roasting a chicken.  Brenda Langton suggested some meat, chicken or lamb or turkey, made at the beginning of the week, serving as a meal entre, then as sandwich or salad fixings, finally boiled in a soup.  It’s a nice, straightforward way to plan a week, easy, too.