Honey, honey oh so sweet honey!
On my last post I mentioned honey and that I had seen signs of this when doing my inspection. Well, now is the time to start to collecting, exactly what every beekeeper is waiting for. However another new learning curve and a quick ferret around on eBay to find a honey extractor. A trip down to Somerset to collect it (along with several other bits of beekeeping equipment), where we were also given a nice cup of tea and slice of chocolate birthday cake (thanks Martin the very nice hedge layer). This then resulted in the next couple of days working on getting it clean and sterile and in good working order. Then to collect the first frames of honey. I collected 4 supers of honey, 2 from each out apiary. So to the first extraction…… as usual you start these things at probably not the best time when you don’t know how long it will take! First things first, uncapping, this was done with an uncapping fork over the largest tray we could find, mmm that is a sticky job!
Now on to the extraction…. 4 frames at a time in a thing which can only be best described as a spin dryer. Only this is a manual process….. oh how to build muscles in your arms as you have to wind round and round to make it spin to ensure that the honey flies out of the cells, hits the the walls and runs down to collect in the bottom of the extractor. Then you have to take each frame out and turn it around to do the other side. 10 frames in each super x 2 sides, mmm a lot of spinning and arm aching. Good reason for sharing this job (although I do have to admit that I only helped with 2 of the supers and left my other half to do the other 2 on her own the next morning!) Once extracted and collected in the bottom of the tank it then needs to be filtered to remove any debris that may have come off the frames. As I have said before it is a learning curve and low and behold we may have over filtered it by letting it flow through a coarse filter and then a fine filter in to a settling tank when it probably only needed the coarse filter. I did say at the beginning that sometimes when you don’t know how long a job will take, you may have started it at the wrong time… well yes, in this case due to our second finer filtering we sat there until gone midnight waiting for it all to flow through!
Once we had finally filtered all of the honey from the extractor through the sieves (one nylon flour sieve and the second a muslin bag – by the way I now am the proud owner of a new special honey style double filter which fits the bucket and doesn’t require holding for ages, ready for next time) we then were able to leave it to settle in the new settling tank over night. Once the other 2 supers had been extracted the following day we were ready for the exciting bit of finally putting it in to jars. Sadly though as is the case at this time of year the pollen collected comes from rape seed and this very quickly solidifies in the comb and therefore a certain amount does not extract, so this I am reusing for the bee stores (nothing goes to waste in the bee world). A total of 33 x 1lb jars were produced along with 2 small jars for my son and daughter to keep for their own. Amazing though how different in colour each jar may be one after another coming out of the settling tank and although very runny at this point will certainly set in the jar over time. (Yes one week later and this has now happened)
All that remains on this is to enjoy…… and we most certainly are along with everyone else who has tried it so far! This is also a bonus crop as we would previously have had to wait till August/September for any honey. So…. can’t wait till the next lot which also shouldn’t set like this has.