Project Honey Bee: Harvesting Honey

When it comes to beekeeping, Mom and I are nowhere near professionals. We have just read, watched & researched a lot (Mom more than I, of course. She's a good researcher). The cool thing is, that we have a living, breathing hive to examine & practice on. We go out to the hive, pull it apart, look around & see what needs doing. Even when you're a novice, some of it comes down to trial & error, and gut feeling. Mom will call me up, "We need to check on the bees this weekend". Okay. One, two, three, go.  

Cool bee fact #237: The vast majority of bees in a hive are female. Females do all the work. The male bees {called drones} sit around getting fat - literally getting fed from female workers - waiting to fly off and mate with a queen. Cue feminist ranting & males everywhere chortling...

When the ladies start filling up the hive with tons 'o extra honey {usually about mid-summer}, it's time to harvest it. One thing about bees is that you always have to give them something to do, otherwise, the hive will get too crowded and they'll leave for bigger/better digs. So, when there is lots of extra honey {stored in a different area than the larvae & food area}, you get to take some for yourself. Then, when there are areas of the hive that are empty, they'll feel the need to fill it up with something {usually, more honey surplus}.

So, our ladies had a nice bunch of surplus honey that we were able to harvest. We cut out chunks and put them in a bucket. Most professional beekeepers have these really awesome centrifuges that are specifically made for extracting honey from the comb. We didn't have anything like that. Some people suggest just cutting the comb into little chunks and letting gravity do all the work. We weren't that patient. So, what's the closest thing to a household-grade centrifuge? A salad spinner, of course!

We'd add a few chunks at a time, spinning slowly - the spinner would stop when the bottom would fill enough to make the basket catch. Then, we'd add it to sterilized jars.... slow going, but super effective. Voilà! Our very own honey! Wee! So exciting. And, it tastes absolutely fantastically delicious. Who wants homemade honey and biscuits?!?! Yes, please!