At the end of the summer, I pulled honey frames from my two bee hives.
As long as the bees are left with at least 70 pounds of honey to get them through the winter, the beekeeper can take any surplus. I like to err on the side of caution and leave more than 70 pounds (what if the winter is longer than usual? what if they get hungry in the middle of the night? what if there’s one really piggy bee who eats more than her share?), but this year’s yield was still quite impressive.
The honey frames were stored in the garage in clear, Rubbermaid-style bins since the fall.
Since I had no way to spin the honey myself, I figured I would just keep it safe from moths, bees, mice, and bears until I could use one of my friends’ extractors.
So the honey frames sat in the boxes through the fall and most of the winter.
And the honey froze.
And, inside the house, we ran out of honey.
And that seemed ridiculous.
So, for my birthday, Dave bought me my very own extractor! And yesterday was Get-the-Honey-Day.
I’d taken a total of nine small frames and six large frames from the two hives. Largely, the frames came from my original hive. The second hive was a fairly recent split, and I didn’t want to take much from them; I wanted to ensure that the split would survive the winter.
In some of the frames (as you can see in the top picture), there was even a combination of light and dark in side-by-side cells.
Because the color of honey depends on its nectar source, it is safe to assume that the nectar collected to produce both the light and dark honey were from very different types of flowers.
The time of collection can also be a factor as early spring honey is lighter than honey collected in fall.
While lighter honey is said to be milder than darker honey (because, as we’ve been telling our kids every time we give them properly cooked food, COLOR IS FLAVOR), our method of spinning combined the light and dark and gave us an end-product somewhere in the middle.
After a sweaty, sticky day of spinning near the wood stove (to keep things warm and flowing), we filtered the honey twice.
The first filtering took out the large pieces of wax, propolis, and unlucky bees.
The second filtering clarified the honey and gave us our finished product.
At the day’s end, almost everything we owned had at least a little honey on it.
We were tired and sticky and hot and sticky and sticky.
But, we yielded over three-and-a-half gallons (more than last year!) and are going to try harvesting the wax next.