Wednesday, 24 August 2011
Lots of beekeeping books recommend that you extract your honey into buckets and store your honey in the sealed buckets until just before you sell it. Before you can put the honey into jars, you have to warm up the honey in the bucket, which needs some kind of warming cabinet (or I guess an airing cupboard if you chuck all the clothes out of it first). Then you tip the warm honey into a 'ripening tank' (tank with a valve at the bottom), possibly filtering it when you tip it in. Then you leave the honey for several days so that any bits float to the top. Then you can skim off the 'skum' from the top (actually mostly tiny bits of beeswax). Finally you can put the honey in jars. Then you clean everything ready for the next time you want to bottle some honey!
Monday, 22 August 2011
On Sunday we went to Hanbury Hall to take back the supers from the bees after they had cleaned them up. The bees have taken all the honey out of the extracted 'wet' supers and stored it for thier own use. They also tidied up the broken edges of the honeycomb. Have a look at the picture in an earlier posting of the smashed-up honeycomb after I had messed it up with a combination of scraping open the cells with the uncapping fork and then spinning out the honey.
Sunday, 21 August 2011
Spinning the honeycomb in the extractor gets out most of the honey but there is still a film of honey over the inside of each cell. To clean this up we need a cleaner which is small enough to get right inside each cell and recover the honey. What does the beekeeper have available that can get inside honeycomb cells ... oh yes ... bees!
Saturday, 20 August 2011
So, we got the supers with honey in them back home without too many bees. Luckily I can get directly into the room where I do the extracting from the back door, only walking over lino flooring. Even so I try to save large pieces of cardboard (the box the chicken run came in was great ... covered the entire floor) to walk on. You cannot avoid getting drips of honey on the floor and it then gets spread everywhere you walk. I have tried putting down newspaper, but as soon as there is any honey on the paper, the paper sticks to your foot and then you end up trying to walk about with half a newspaper flapping off your shoe!
Thursday, 18 August 2011
This is one of the most exciting times of the year. We have been looking after the bees all year and now comes the moment to take off the honey. You can make a guess as to how much the bees have collected, but until it is home and in the jar, there is always an element of 'counting your chickens before they are hatched'. The colony could be robbed by wasps, there could be a period of cold weather and the bees eat the honey ... and so on.