Honey Harvest

I really wasn't expecting a honey harvest this year, but the bees have been hard at work and things were starting to get a little tight for them. So we took some frames off each hive (fewer than I thought we might, but the nectar flow has been slowing down a bit).

Cutting the comb out of the frame

I am going low-tech and was going to crush and strain, and our neighbors had expressed interest in seeing the process, so we invited them over to watch us spread a thin layer of honey all over the kitchen. Near the end of the process they picked up the camera, so here are their love songs to the honey comb.

Honey in the comb

There really is something amazing and awe-inspiring about honey in the comb. Each individual cell is packed full of food. It's all very orderly and also wonderful.

Maching the comb with a potato masher

And crush and strain is a very visceral way of getting honey from comb. You literally smash the comb to get the honey. I like the way the honey gets an extra-waxy taste to it, but mostly I like it because I just don't want to bother with an extractor and making sure the frames are strong enough to stand up to extraction. I don't need a massive honey harvest, so forcing the bees to make new wax is A-OK by me.

Honey straining in the sieve

We'll let the honey strain out for a couple days. It's a slow process, and at the end of it we have to figure out how to bottle up honey from a big metal pot with no honey gate. Should be interesting.

Pile of crushed wax to strain

The crushed wax is sitting in the strainer now, slowly dripping more honey. Quite a bit more will drip off this wax eventually.

One thing is clear: I need to get some better honey handling equipment. Minimal processing is fine, but we made quite a mess tonight and it would be good to not get honey all over everything.

posted by ayse on 07/30/12