Honey Harvest: July 21, 2012

As I am want to do, I got stung. Right in the ear. Needless to say, I spent the next day looking distinctly like John McCain with half of my head being quite swollen. 🙂 More on that later.

The most important thing is that we harvested. I suppose I should do a quick run down of our fast inspection:

Hive 1–Looking good. Saw eggs and brood, but this hive is not ready to harvest. I still think we’ll get 10 frames or so.

Hive 2–Harvested a medium super of honey! Looking great.

Hive 3–Still has brood in the honey supers. Grrr…. No harvest.

Hive 4–Same as 2, almost exactly.

Hive 5–Same as 3, almost exactly. Grrr….

All in all, we harvested 20 medium frames from two hives. Like I said I would, we did the crush and strain method, which I like for the wax production and simplicity. I hate spinning those frames for hours on end. It’s just not for me.

I did build my own crush and strain system, though, using two five-gallon buckets. I built it by cutting the top out of the bottom bucket and drilling holes in the bottom of the top bucket. You poor the crushed honey in the top bucket, it drips through the holes and separates from the wax. A few complaints:

  • I’ve read from several beekeepers that it can take five days or more to fully separate. Ugh…
  • The holes were too small, and they were clogged with wax pretty quickly. I had to cut the holes larger, which was extremely messy with the bucket full of honey. Plus, I know I got some plastic shavings in the honey/wax mixture, so no matter what, I will end up filtering any honey that I can’t plainly tell is clean. That will be a small portion, but it will be some more filtering.
  • Did I mention the five days?

On to some pictures….

Scraping the honey free of the foundation.

I do like the plastic foundation if only because it makes this job easier. I suppose having real wax foundations means I’d just cut it out, though, so….

Holding a very lovely frame of honey. I was trying to figure out the discoloration in the middle, and as near as I could tell, this frame had pollen in it at some point. Guessing from the colors, I might also go as far as to say that it may even have had brood at one point.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is a five-gallon bucket. And yes, that is the top of the five-gallon bucket. 🙂

Mackay caught in the act of knibbling on the drippings left on the table. This honey, like our previous batch, was really potent. We’ve taken to calling it dandelion honey not because it’s made from dandelion but because it packs a good punch. Very tasty in small doses, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t take a mouthful.

Tonight, two days later, I have about a gallon strained through the bucket, but I just finished enlarging the holes. I would guess by Wednesday night, we’ll be mostly done. Then I’ll start bottling and refiltering using cheese cloth to get a bit cleaner. In the end, I’m hopeful to get about four gallons of actual honey and a few pounds of wax.

Back to the sting…. After we were done, Mackay and I ran the wet frames back out to the hives for the bees to clean up for us. I didn’t dress up because I wasn’t going to be near the hives. I did, however, see a wasp carrying a dead bee off near the hives. That always ticks me off, so I grabbed a board that I use as a pseudo fly swatter, marched up to the hives, and killed the wasp. As I was leaving, a honey bee that was still riled up from the honey harvest nailed me right on the inside of my left ear!


Several others came after me, so I abandoned Mackay to finish because he was in his gear and went inside. I was sure I had the venom sack, so I sat down with an ice pack, but five minutes later the pain was getting worse and the throbbing just wasn’t going down. I had Courtney take a look and sure enough, there was the venom sack still pumping away. By the time we got it out, it was a shriveled up little husk of a thing. Sigh….

My ear looked like I had been boxing for a few years (thick and totally puffy) and the left side of my face was swollen about double the right. It was also hot and red like you would expect after getting that much venom. When I walked in to church on Sunday, someone took a look at me and mentioned that he didn’t know that John McCain was in our congregation. Sigh…. But on second thought, it was a well deserved comment. It certainly looked John McCain-ish.

And yes, I forbid Courtney from taking pictures.

I do think I’ll get another 30 or 40 frames of harvestable honey this year. At least I’m very hopeful that is the case. That would get me pretty close to the 200 pounds of honey I was hoping to harvest this year.

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One Response to Honey Harvest: July 21, 2012

  1. JeffreyD says:

    You don’t have any pictures? You’re joking! How in the world can long-distance friendships be maintained without regular photos of important life moments?

    You really do need to preserve a photo legacy for posterity, and the papers.

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