Honey Extraction Day!

After the harvest yesterday we got to do something we have been waiting to do since we got here…extract honey!  We’ve seen the bees working away all summer, while working in the fields, especially the flower fields, we would see honey bees, say hello, give them a little space, check to see how full of pollen they were, than watch them fly away with our earnest thoughts hoping for more of the sweetness we knew they would bring.  Sweetness we finally got a chance to taste!

About a week ago John put a spacer on top of one of the ‘supers’ as each box is called, and one below.  These extra spacers are built to let bees fly out but prohibits them from flying back in.  This gave the hive a week to clear out.  When John opened this top box up-the coast was clear.

After carefully prying one of the bars apart from the super, John carefully lifted one up to see how it looked…

We used a smoker to deter the bees.  It sort of dulls their senses and gives us a chance to get in there.  Too much could kill them, but a little just distracts them for a bit.  None of us were stung during those whole process.  Although we did get stung throughout the summer, not too much, but coincidentally, Briis, Stacy, Flora, and I all got stung on the same day a few weeks ago.  We have all found the best cure to be plantain.  The ‘weed’ that grows around here, not the fruit.  I’m sure you all have seen it, it’s broadleafed, up to…maybe six inches.  Later in the season it develops a conical type seed head.  Anyways, we chew up the leaf to extract the juices than press it to the sting-first removing a stinger if it is there.  It worked instantly for all of us.  Immediately took the stinging pain away.

After removing the spacer we could see the bees busily working on their next box.

Than into the barn for the next step…and the amazing EXTRACTOR!

But first…we had to use the ‘honey uncapping knife’ which heats up, than we are able to cut or melt off the outer beeswax caps the bees put over the honey they filled the honeycombs with.  Bees make honey and beeswax.  They build their own honeycomb structures, fill them with honey, and cap them with more beeswax.  What they are doing is essentially what we have been doing all summer…growing and storing food for the winter!  And now…we are going in and taking their winter storage…but we won’t take it all, and they will still have time to make more for the winter!

We had many on-lookers and taste testers throughout the process!  As we ‘cut’ off the caps we ate them, sucking out the delicious honey and spitting out the beeswax, which we could, if we wanted, turn that into candles or salves or something.

Next up was a spin in the extractor…it uses centrifugal force to draw the honey out, let it drip down the sides, where it collects in the bottom, which we could than open the spicket to pour into jars.From one super, weighing 20 pounds full…we extracted one gallon and two pint jars of the most delicious, sweet, mesmerizing sweetness I have ever had.  It was as if we could taste every flower from the entire season.  We’ve spent many minutes and used many words to try to find the description of the taste and which flowers…but nothing ever seems to quite fit.  It’s honey.

Thank you honeybees.

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