Monday, August 2, 2010

Honey Harvest!

Welcome to "The Other Kitchen"...
Or what we refer to as:

Now, don't get me wrong, he's not what the sign says, but it's funny!

When we got new appliances for the house, the old ones went out to his garage.  They come in quite handy actually! 

Especially for what Pig Pen sprung on me today!  Our First Honey Harvest!  This wasn't even on my radar as I was knee deep in basil, pesto, turnips and beets!  Geesh!  Like I needed more to do today!  But it was AWESOME! 

Funny side note:  right when I was headed to the garage to get things started, naturally the phone's my Mom.  I told her I couldn't chat because we were fixin' to harvest some honey! 
Mom's response???  "Oh, WAIT!  I'll throw some pants on and be right out!" 
Hmmm...I think I will leave that one alone!

Warning:  Long post and lots of super cool pictures!

So to get things started, Pig Pen had to round up the frames, brush off ALL the bees and bring them up.  Here's what they look like:

Neat, huh?  Next, he heats the knife and cuts off the caps:

Jenny Girl's job was to help him keep the knife clean.

Then he uses a special 'brush' to remove any caps that the knife couldn't reach.  He does all this over a screened container which catches the honey as well.

Then he loads them in his homemade honey extractor.  He made this bad boy from scratch and he really worked hard on it!  He is pretty ingenious and can make anything!  It's all non-corrosive and sterilized.  Here is the extractor inside and out:

Now it's time to load up and have some fun!
The extractor holds four frames at a time.  He uses his handy drill to 'power' it.  The idea is to 'spin' the honey out of the comb and into the base of the extractor. 
Click on the video to see it in action!

Did ya notice my Mom had her pants on???

See the honey in the bottom and how the combs are empty now?

Once the honey is spun out, he opens the valve and it pours into a brand spankin' new bucket equipped with honey 'screens'.  The screens filter out wax particles and what not and sit on top the bucket.

This is what the screens look like after the honey has passed thru.

There is alot of honey still in the caps that were cut, and because dumbie me didn't know and Pig Pen conveniently 'forgot' to tell me how to get that honey out, I hand squeezed the wax and it too, went thru the screens. 

Once all the honey ran thru the screens, we moved into the house, made a big ole mess and started jarring up some yummy goodness!

It actually goes pretty fast!  We had some help too...Jenny Girl and my Mom washed and dried all the cute little Honey Bears.  Remember...we had no warning that Pig Pen was going to spring this on us!  Otherwise I would have prepared! 

Here is the huge mess left to clean up...did I mention the hot water heater kept going on the fritz to boot?  Yeah, ya sorta need hot water to clean up sticky goo!  Not to worry, Pig Pen came to the rescue!

Suffice it to say, long day...LOADS of fun!  I can honestly say this was one of the absolute COOLEST things we have ever done and soooo worth it!

Here are our little Honey Bears!  Each hive has it's own flavor and color.  The one on the left is from the bees we purchased.  The one on the right is from the swarm we 'accquired'.  The honey will 'clear' as the air bubbles from processing it settle.

And for comparison sake, to show you how very different even local honey can be as well as to store bought:

From Left to Right:  Ours, a batch from about 25 miles from here and of course, the store bought.
Amazing, isn't it?  Ours has a mild flavor and is very light in color.  It is super yummy!

Now for something else that is pretty cool!  Here is what you do with the excess wax and caps:

Heat slowly and it separates.  Once it cools, the wax will come to the top and you just pop it right off, filter the remaining honey and your are good to go!

Um, did I tell you we harvested 70 POUNDS of honey???  And that it was only a partial harvest???  Lots more to come!  But we are going to wait until Fall!

For an update on the Bee Sting Tally ... Pig Pen - 5 ... The Apple Pie Gal - None!
And that would be because I stay way far away...even for the pictures!

Oh and Thanks, Mom...for putting your pants on!


  1. So my honey bear will be in the mailbox soon right? LOL. And yes, Thanks Mom for putting your pants on. :)

  2. Thank you for teaching me about the honey making process. I had no idea how that all went. I'm sure your honey is divine...both the one you're married to, and the stuff you harvested. Love that your hubby built the thing himself. And I also love that your mom put her pants on. :)

  3. AWESOME! Can't believe the honey you got (both in jars and my son). Make sure you let me know when the next harvest is ready and I will put my pants on and come down too!!!! Fabulous post, as always!!! :-)

  4. Wait a minute, Jan is on to something. No pants = No pants to wash all that honey off. She is just saving a step. That extractor looks very professional. Your husband is very mechanical. Why can't he build a robot to do all the cleanup. Build two and send me one. And if you could make mine look like Josh Holloway, thank you.

  5. You guys crack me up! I told Pig Pen that he should wait so all the 'pantless' people could come, but he was so darned excited, there was no stopping him! And he can build just about anything, wonder why I never thought of a clean up crew! Thanks for hanging in thru the long was really a neat thing and I was thrilled to share it!

  6. Hey, my pants are on!!!

  7. Wow...and you asked ME where I got my energy? LOOK AT YOU TWO!!! You guys blow my mind. I told Adam you need to open your own produce stand/general store. And since it would be your could make it "pants optional". HA! Great post Di. You guys were some busy little bees yesterday (hehe...)

  8. I can't be more proud of you two than I am now!
    you guys are the best!

  9. Great post! We keep honey bees also, but it's a real challenge up here because they have to work so hard to collect pollen and nectar. There are no farms so they only have wild flowers and fruit trees and gardens and such to work. Also our long, severe winters are rough on the bees but we keep trying to do everything we can to help the little guys along.

    Your hubby's homemade extractor looks just as professionally constructed as the purchased ones!

  10. Wow! No bees, no tomatoes to speak off...I think you guys should come home!

  11. What a treat to have your own honey, it looks delicious. And it looks like a good supply of beeswax too.

  12. Ok, I will be waiting for my honey!!! How cool! :) Way too busy of people, I tell ya. You should watch more TV like the rest of America! :)

  13. I am so jealous!! We would have hives if we both were'nt so afraid of bee stings!! Well, we just don't like them!! I grew up beside a HUGE bee operation in Fla and his dad always had hives. The honey doesn't even compare to store bought. My daughter has tried to convince us to get some bees but I don't think I could stand the maybe the "no pants" route would be better for the harvest! Seems the only times I remember my husband getting stung they went down in his pants, your mom was onto something here!!!!!!

    Pat your husband on the back for a job well done on the extractor too!!!! I kinda like having a man around who can build anything, don't you?? However he always springs jobs like this on me at the last minute too, like when he decided on the coldest day of the year with snow 30" deep to go out to the garage and defrost the dagone chest freezer!!! Urgh!!

    Great post!! Enjoy all that liquid gold!!