Monday, April 1, 2013

Sweet, Sweet Honey

Last summer time slipped away from us and when it came time to extract honey from our hives we just didn't get to it.  Thankfully the hives freeze just fine.  With spring upon us...I think...we thought it was due time to get the hives thawed out!

A little background.  We have two hives and have kept bees for two summers.  The first summer the hives did ok.  Not too great, if I remember right one hive didn't produce at all.  We took the hives to someone with an extractor and we got a couple gallons of honey.  This past summer we did two hives again.  They did really great.  One did do way better than the other but they both produced. 

 Which now brings us to not enough time in a day and why we are now extracting honey six months later.

 A trip to Hackensack, MN was taken to Mann Lake Ltd. (http://www.mannlakeltd.com)
Some honey processing equipment was purchased and a few you tube videos were watched.  
We were now on our way!

Here is a frame from the hive filled with honey, capped off with wax.  



Closer look.  This is one of better frames.  The bees did a fantastic job filling it up.


Taking an uncapping knife(one of the purchases) the wax is scraped off.
The uncapping knife is heated to better slice through that wonderful wax.


Oooh, aaaah.....


All that wonderful, wonderful wax for lotion bars, soap, lip balm, and I could go on and on and on.


Pure honey.  The bees did a BEAUTIFUL job!


After the frame has been uncapped it goes into the extractor. 
The extractor spins around releasing the honey from the frame.  We purchased an electric extractor.  You can purchase hand crank extractors.


Front view of the extractor.  Note the spout for the honey to flow out of.
And the special bucket bought for the honey to flow into.  The bucket also has a spout to make it easy to pour the honey into jars.


In action spinning.  Though caught on camera you would never know : )


Liquid gold or what????!!!!



Mmmmmm......
As you can maybe see there is stuff floating on the top of the bucket.  According to the you tube video, if we let the bucket sit for a day it will all float to the top.  Then we can skim it off and then filter one more time before storing in jar.

Here is a glass of the honey after it sat for a day.  Still has a few specks floating on top, but it's looking good!



Glass of honey
Finished product.



And there is all that wax.  We will have to render the wax before it is usable.  Not a hard process.  It involves the wax and boiling water.  And it's way less stinky then rendering animal fat!!!!
A tutorial on rendering wax.


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Like I said at the beginning this was our second year with hives, and our first year extracting it ourselves.  This year our hives did really well and we estimate getting 90 pounds of honey(which I should note the majority of the honey came from one hive)!  We are thrilled with this outcome.  Lets not forget either the benefit those bees had to our vegetable garden!  

In the shopping spree at the bee store another hive was purchased.....so here is to even more success next year!

Now what to do with all that honey.....

Granola recipe
Sweetening plain yogurt (Ever covered fruit with honey sweetened yogurt? BEST fruit salad EVER!)
Honey BBQ Wings
Biscuits and honey
Cherry cough syrup made with honey (this stuff is great on a sore throat too!)
Substitute honey for sugar in canning. (I did this last year when I canned peaches, delicious!)

Uses for beeswax:
Lip Gloss and Lip Balm
Lotion Bar
Skin benefits of beeswax
Homemade sunscreen without all those chemicals
Uses around the home
and of course candles.


~Emily


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