Explore the blog, Then Check out our website

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Chicken Scratch Poultry

Friday, October 17, 2014

Collecting Honey From The Bee Hive

This is our first year working with bees and I must say, I never realized that bees could be so interesting.  They are very amazing, creative creatures and it is fascinating to watch them work.  Just like with any new hobby the first year is always when you make all the big mistakes and hope that you learn from them.
We began this spring with two packages of bees that we ordered and shortly after we received those we also caught a swarm of bees.  The swarm we caught has by far done better than the packaged bees since it came intact with all it's workers.  One of the packages of bees we purchased did not survive the first 3 months.  The other package of bees has done well but we will probably need to feed them all winter long.  Packaged bees play catch up all summer long, having no stored honey, having to build the entire wax comb and raise up young worker bees, this starts the hive off in a deficit.   If you plan to get started in bees I totally recommend ordering a nucleus hive.  A nucleus hive consists of a 2 to 5 frame hive used to start off a new colony.

Once we we're decked out in full gear we duct taped the bottom of our jeans and any other little
hole that sneaky bees can get into.  Larry figured this out the last time he opened the box and they climbed up his pant legs.  So glad he learned this little trick before I did.
We smoked the bees and began the process of opening up the hive.  We're collecting the honey from the swarm of bees that we caught in the spring.  We won't be getting honey from the packaged bees this year.  They will need all of their honey to make it through the winter.  The swarm hive that we are working on has thousands of bees in the box, it's absolutely amazing and a bit intimidating how many bees are in this box.  Taking the top off of the hive doesn't really upset them but as soon as we remove one frame from the hive they come boiling out of the box.
Since we don't have a honey extractor yet we choose to use a wax foundation on the frames. That way we can just cut the comb out of the frame.  The comb is edible right along with the honey and extractors are very expensive.
As we took each frame from the hive we brushed the bees off with a soft brush, we carried the frames around to the front of the house out of the view of the bees and a considerable distance from the hive and covered them with dish towels. We were taking each frame in the house, one by one, cutting out the comb and bringing the frame back outside while holding a paper plate under the frame to catch all the drips of honey.  In pretty short order the bees figured out where we had taken the honey and within just a few minuets the entire hive had moved to the front of the house and began packing honey back to the hive as fast as they could.  We decide we needed to change our strategy.   So we began quickly brushing them back off of the frames and moved the frames into the house.  What a sticky mess that was.  I left honey covered paper plates outside in the rush to get the honey from the bees. Within just a couple of minutes they had the honey licked off of the plates and headed back to the hive. You couldn't even find a sticky spot on the plates when they were finished.  That was a learning experience.  Like I've said before, we don't know what we're doing but it's fun learning.

I cut a slice of comb and placed it in each jar, I think it looks beautiful and tasty too.  After I cut and saved back the amount of comb I wanted, we put all the rest of the honey and comb into a pot and slowly heated it until it was all melted.  Then we let it cool overnight.  As it cools the comb separates and comes to the top.  When it was all finished and in the jars we had almost two gallons of honey.  Not to bad for our first year.  It's a lot of work and we have a lot to learn that will hopefully make the process run smoother but I must say it's absolutely delicious.
If I decide to sell honey next year I think I'll stick a sign at the driveway that reads,  honey for sale pick your own.
Have a great weekend!

Proverbs 16:24

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

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