I finally got around to editing some footage from our honey harvest back in September. It was a beautiful morning, but we (meaning my wife and our friend Josh) had to work quickly to remove and clean the frames and make it to our extraction appointment on time. It’s much easier to bring the frames to a place that already has all the equipment and knows what they are doing. Plus, they do all the cleanup.
We brought them the frames and they cut off the capped combs and spun out the honey for us. We ended up with about 65 pounds of honey which we took home and bottled ourselves. The honey tasted a little different this year, kind of like apricot and pumpkin. Who knows were those bees had been!
As first year bee keepers, we were pretty excited to harvest our first batch of honey. We were not counting on getting much, if any in the first year. Our busy bees on the other hand had higher hopes. They surprised us with almost 20 pounds of liquid gold!
Our hive consists of basically 3 boxes stacked on top of each other. All of them contain 9 frames that the bees make wax comb into and fill with honey, and/or brood or larvae. The bottom 2 boxes we leave alone so the colony will grow and they will have some honey to eat through the winter. The top shallow box, or “honey super”, contains just comb and honey, and is all for us.
First we had to spray a “fume board” with a smelly liquid that the bees hate. This drives the bees out of the honey super so we could take it off and collect the honey. 6 of the 9 frames were filled with honey. Not bad for the first year. We loaded the honey filled frames in the car and drove to New England Beekeeping Supplies in Tyngsboro, MA. They were super helpful and have all the equipment for extracting the honey from the combs available for rent.
Using a hot knife, the wax caps were sliced off. We saved all the cappings to make some beeswax products later. The frames were then places in the extractor, a large stainless steel cylinder with a motor and a spout at the bottom. As the frames spin faster and faster inside the extractor, the centrifugal force pulls all the honey out of the combs and eventually comes out of the spout below. The fresh honey was strained and filled our bottling bucket.
After we got home and made some whisky drinks with mint and fresh honey, we started bottling. We ended up with 32, 6 oz. jars. The taste is delicious! Much better than anything store bought. It was so exciting to see the whole process from start to finish and be able to enjoy something fresh and natural.
After months of preparation and anticipation, the bees finally arrived! We had to drive to Weston, CT to pick them up. It was an interesting ride with 13,000 buzzing passengers in the back seat!
Once we got home, they were sprayed with sugar water to calm them down and make them happy. After an hour rest they were dumped into their new home. The queen came in her own separate cage with a piece of sugar blocking her in. In a couple days the other bees will eat through the sugar and free her from the box. Honey bees are surprisingly docile and pretty harmless. They were flying all around us and other spectators and nobody got stung. Josh, our bee partner didn’t even wear gloves when handling the queen box. But then again, he is pretty tough.
Eventually, more boxes will be added to increase the hive. This year the bees will be using most of their energy making wax and building the combs, so we probably won’t get much honey until next year.
It’s been a while since I have posted anything here. I have been super busy since we returned from Scotland, photos coming soon! Our bee hive has also been keeping us busy. It is finally painted and all the frames assembled. This Sunday will be an exciting car ride as we bring home 13,000 of the little guys!
What kind of project? A beehive! We ordered the kit from bee-commerce.com. It took some time, but was pretty easy to build. Our kitchen smells like fresh cut wood, I love it!
This hive will hold about 10,000 – 12,000 bees! Yeah, I’m a little nervous, but we will get at least 30 pounds of honey the first year and then 70 plus pounds the years after that. The queen and her swarm will be arriving in April. I will keep you posted … with pictures of course!