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From Hive to Jar: A Honey Odyssey

August 21, 2010 7 comments

At last, the long-anticipated honey harvesting day arrived (on August 11). The day before, I’d added a bee gate (a one-way exit) under the top two supers. When I pulled off the boxes, there were almost no bees in them. We ended up with 11 frames of beautiful, capped honey.

I quickly brought the frames into the kitchen, before the honey cooled too much. (The inside of the hive is typically a balmy 85 degrees.) Using a warm extracting knife, I removed the wax caps on each side and placed the frames in the extractor.

And then, the spinning began–fun for the whole family. I love the new extractor. It works beautifully. We hand-cranked the frames and the honey spun out, gathering on the inside of the extractor, and dripping down the sides. This is one of the best uses of centrifugal force I can think of–well, this and kids getting to push into each other when they’re in a car that’s turning a corner. Here’s another extractor view. Shiny.

After we’d spun the frames for a few minutes, we were treated to the wondrous sight of the first bit of honey coming out of the gate (and flowing through a cloth filter into a five-gallon container). We ended up with 32 lbs. from our first harvest. After letting the honey settle overnight to get rid of bubbles, we bottled it in 72 glass hex jars. The only thing left for (geeky) me to do was design our Fog City Bee labels.

Here’s the original watercolor:

Here’s the final product:

Thank you, bees!

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