Monday, February 17, 2014

Honey in January

With my bee gloves repaired, a day off of work, the nectar flow right around the corner, and temperatures in the high sixties it was time to inspect the hives today.  I watched Thom Carey's "My Hive Tool" videos and really wish that I had bought it when I first started keeping bees.  It follows him through an entire year of bee keeping, from package installation through the harvest.  It was highly informative on just about everything that a beginner bee keeper would need.  Available from amazon at the link at the bottom.  Anywho, enough of the review.
While I know that one normally wouldn't rob their hives in January, and I'll probably get an ear full about how it shouldn't be done; I have a few reasons that I took honey in January.  1) The strong hive still had 11 full frames of honey.  Last fall I left them everything because it was my first year and I wasn't sure how much they needed.  After robbing they still have a full super of honey, which I may rob again if the nectar flow starts soon. 2) The nectar flow is starting soon and I'm already feeding the weak hive.  If the strong hive gets weak before the flow I'll feed them also.  3) Danielle wanted honey!

I did learn that if you are planning on doing the crush and strain method you should't wire them in.  It was a real pain getting the comb out of the frames with all the wires.  I had used crimp wire foundation and wired it in horizontally.  Letting them build it themselves would have been a simple zip with a knife around the frame and pop out of the comb.  I also don't have a honey strainer yet so we used cheese cloth.  It was adequate for us, but I wouldn't try and sell any.  People get all bent out of shape when they see bee legs in their honey.

I went to Fred's (a local dollar store) and bought two Rubbermaid containers that stacked together nicely.  Holes were drilled in the bottom of the top box and it was lined with cheese cloth.  After fighting the comb off of all the wires it was put in the top box and my assistant crushed it up with a potato masher.

It was then left to drip for 24 hours.  I checked it in the morning after about 12 hours and noticed some chunks of comb that were missed.  I crushed those, stirred up the wax and let it sit another 12 hours to drip.

This is what the wax looks like after 24 hours.  Kinda like instant potatoes.

The frames were about 80% full so we got 2 1/2 quarts.  It looks like one medium frame will equal one quart if the frame is full.  It's kind of tangy, most of it is from cotton and goldenrod that bloomed last fall.  Over all though we're excited about our first honey harvest.  The 1/2 jar is all the impurities that a proper strainer will clean out.  I may strain it again once I get a screen (if it lasts that long).

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