The date : September 6th.
The accomplishment: honey extraction.
Casualties: one stabbed palm, one cut across a thumb and, one bee sting (all mine).
Thank goodness for extra special friends. Our dear friend Nancy came down from Milwaukie yesterday morning to help me with honey extraction (Michael was in chemo). I really would have messed things up without her, as well as making a huge mess. Thank you Nancy!
There are thousands of things to keep in mind on when extracting honey. You probably guessed it……BEES. Who would have thought bees would get so aggravated when you take half the honey they painstakingly made all year long.
I have some pictures to illustrate the process. Not necessarily the best pictures but I didn’t sustain any more injuries while taking them which is great in my book.
The first thing you need to do is get the bees out of the top boxes called supers. Our boxes were medium size. The best way to do this is to put a bee escape on about 48 hours before you need to remove those boxes. I don’t know what happened, but there were a lot more bees than I was expecting. Being as busy as we always are, we put them on about 36 hours before we would be taking the boxes (supers) off.
Here is the hive opening prior to doing anything. More bees than I would rather see.
Nancy, ever the prepared one, came with her bottle of “Natural Honey Harvester.” To us, it smells a lot like almonds. What ever it is, the bees hate it and will leave the hive, giving you time to take out the frames and hide them in a tote. Again, the first hive didn’t mind the smell and took their own sweet time leaving.
You don’t just spray it on the hive, you soak a towel or an appropriate size of foam and attach it to an inner cover. Here is what it looked like when we did it.
When you extract honey, it is usually daytime and the bees can find you! So, you try to find a place where every entrance can be sealed completely. The garage would have been great but one of the doors doesn’t fit correctly. We decided to do the extraction in the laundry room. Here is our extractor which holds four frames. We put it up on blocks to make it easier on our backs and to fit a bucket under the spout.
When you take the frames off, you have to brush off all of the bees and then put that frame in a sealed tote. Once you have taken all the frames from one hive that you want, you can begin extracting. The first step is to remove the was covers on each comb. We used two capping scratchers.
Here is a frame before it has been scratched.
Here is that same frame after being scratched.
Here is that frame after it has been extracted.
It took me a while to be able to look closely at an extracted frame and know that you got most of the honey out. It still looks like there is honey in it but if you look closely, down to the bottom of the frame you will realize the combs are mostly empty.
By this time, Michael had returned home after is chemo treatment and had some lunch. Now he gives extracting a try.
Yes, chemo has taken his hair but not his strength, nor his health.
Nancy and I finished up the frames from hive #1 and Michael went out and got all the frames from hive #2.
Since it was afternoon and Nancy had trained us, she went home and Michael and the boys did hive #2.
When Hive #1 was done we were anxious to see and taste the honey.
Here it is coming out of the extractor.
Hive #1 produced about four gallons of honey and hive number two produced about five gallons of honey.
When we were done, it was nighttime and we put all the frames in boxes and back on the hives. Those bees will clean the honey off and the honey comb left means they don’t have to start from scratch when they want to store honey.
Enough of the honey, let’s talk about my honey. Michael is in his second (of three) weeks of chemo every day. His “numbers” are excellent. His white and red blood cell counts are almost back to what they were before his first round of chemo. He just has today and tomorrow and he will be done with this round.
The boys are enjoying school. Here is Joshua in his cross country uniform.
He is running a lot. Then after the runs they go to the gym at the high school and lift weights. He plans on doing baseball and track in the spring. Nicholas isn’t doing any fall sports but wants to do basketball and track . I’m just wondering when we will have dinners all together again. All of our family is coming down to celebrate Joshua and my birthdays and I think he has to run that day so who knows how much everyone will get to see of him.
Before bed last night, Nicholas declared he was sick of honey. Apparently, he ate a lot during the extraction.