Sunday, July 31, 2011

Harvesting Honey ~ 2011

Since the Swarm took us a bit off guard last weekend, we went ahead and harvested our first honey of the season.  Yes, Pig Pens idea of a cruel joke is to spring things like this on me at ya know...6 o'clock one evening.  I shall sew his pant legs shut one of these days...

For those of you that weren't around last year, I'll take you thru the steps.  The rest of you can just glaze on thru...

First, you remove the frames from the hive.  Brush off all bees if you are bringing them inside.  :o)
Check out Pig Pen's fancy new stainless steel Decapping Tank...pretty cool, huh? 
Another one of his designs.  Last year we put screening over a rubbermaid container and shimmied around it.  Not this year. 
Next is to "Decap" the comb.  The bees 'cap' off the honey combs with wax once they have completed their work.  Alot of folks will use a heat knife. We found a serrated knife and a warm pan of water works just fine.  The goal being not to heat the honey but rather, keep it "raw".
Keith spank shined the decapping tank all pretty like and then he got sticky!  ;o)  Hey, never a relaxing moment around here!! 

Once you decap, the wax falls to the bottom along with any honey drippings as well.  Not to worry, it doesn't go to waste!

Then you load up the fancy new extractor!  Some of you may recall from last year that Pig Pen fabricated his own design on a Honey Extractor. This year, he decided to rebuild it to hold 12 frames as opposed to 4.  And instead of the Dewalt to spin it, he mechanized it. Yup, a motor!
Well it worked pretty good until they realized we need a bigger motor!  12 frames are pretty darn heavy!  Hopefully by this Fall when the BIG harvest comes in...

The honey gets strained thru two screens to remove any fallen bee soldiers, wax, or other particles.  We then bottle it up!
And oh yes, stickers on each and every bottle!
That's it!  No heating, mixing, or funny business! 

Since there is still loads of wax and honey on the wax in the decapping tank, I slowly simmered it on the stove top.  This process melts the wax entirely and it looks like a big pot of golden goodness.  Then it cools.
As the wax re-solidifies, it floats to the top along with any other 'junk' and forms a cap on the pan.
Let me tell ya, you could use a pry bar to get that out! 
Once you remove the wax cap, you run this honey thru the screens also.  The wax will be saved for another day and another project. 
The screens sit on top of the bucket.  Here is what's left after it is done!
This is what we call "Bakers Honey".    There ended up being approximately 20 lbs.
Because it has been heated, I will use it for all my baking needs.  Don't get me wrong this isn't a bad thing!  It's phenomenal tasting with a deep amber color.  But I wont sell this as part of our "Raw" honey. 
Bakers Honey on Left.  Raw Honey on Right.  

As the raw honey settles, the tiny air bubbles from screening and bottling clear to a nice light golden color.  It is outstanding!  It has a wonderful floral honey scent.

We also did what I like to refer to as "Old Timer's Honey".  
Old Timer's will tell tales of taking a spoonful straight from the comb, wax and all!  Enjoy the honey and chew the wax like gum!  Note:  a little dab'll do ya!  Right, Tricia??
These are actually called Ross Rounds and they are placed in the hive boxes in round frames and then packaged as is!

Not including the 32 Ross Rounds, we harvested a whopping...

240 pounds

of honey so far!! 

Last years total harvest was 157 lbs.

According to my calculations, our honey sales might provide us enough grocery funds to compensate for a lousy gardening/canning year!  Bright side to everything, right?


  1. at least he didnt get his fingers caught in the chain. safety first

  2. I hate you I hate you I hate you.

    Oh, did I say that aloud? I'm sorry, I'm just a WEE BIT JEALOUS of all your honey!

    I know it takes time, patience, mechanic abilities for your gadgets, and, well bees. But I'm still wildly jealous.

    Great job though & what a wonderful feeling it must be to have all that natural sugar in your pantry!


  3. Anonymous, knock on wood, he's a lucky guy.

    CR, hehehehe! You funny girl, let it all out, you'll feel better for it! :o) Maybe some beehives in your future are in order!!

  4. Oh, my, that looks wonderful! It's nice when we get to see our projects paying off! Great job, bees, Pig Pen and APG!

  5. THis was so interesting, especially since we have a "bee" man storing his hives here for the summer. So cool. Gosh, you just get neater all the time!!
    (and about spit coffee on the computer with your comment about sewing his pant legs shut-funny!! When WILL men learn not to mess with us!)

  6. Ok, how do I buy my honey?! I've been out for a while & have been eating local honey attempting to aid allergies... but I want some more Pig Pen & Di honeyyyy! Tell me how! :)

  7. Since I was in the wind last year-this was so fascinating to me and I did not know you also marketed your bounty. great news.More of "Made in U,S.A."LOOKS LIKE YOU HAD A LITTLE HELP,A FAMILY MATTER?i figured you read on someones blog how mu husband is doing,but just in case....he is doing good right now-he was diagnosed wth a pancreatic cancer that is really rather rare. most people get the fast growing type Patrick Swazi had ,Jerry has the slow growing type that Steven Jobs of the Apple Corp. has at the present.I DID NOT KNOW MUCH ABOUT THAT GUY,I DO NOW. WHAT A CRUMB-HAD A CHILD [ OUT OF WED-LOCK] DENIED HIM AND HIS MONEY. MY GOD,WITH HIS MONEY HE COULD AFFORD ALL THE POOR CHILDREN OF THE WORLD,OR CLOSE I BET!ANY-WHO,I WILL STILL HAVE TIME TO SPEND WITH THE LOVE OF MY LIFE.

  8. Patty, well thanks ma'am! I will be sure to let the bees know you commend them also ;) I will tell them from a distance of course!

    Sue, well drastic measures are sometimes in order and I will deal out punishment on his pants when he least expects it :oD Please tell me your beekeeper shares the bounty with you!!

    Chelsi, I am sure we can hook you up! I will talk to Jen and take care of that!

    Judy, WONDERFUL news! I have been thinking about you and your appointment last week! So glad to hear that there is hope and more time in your futures together!

  9. Amazing harvest! Way to go! It looks great. far do I have to drive to get me some of that? Because its really tempting to load the kids up in the car and say we're gonna go get some Apple Pie Gal Honey....

  10. A. I am always amazed at how you are able to rally so many people to help with these messy jobs. Kudos.

    B Love those little round combs. So cool

    C seeings how Pig Pen is soooooo skilled in craftsmanship and can build just about anything, I would like to place an order for a housecleaning robot, a spaceship, a flying car.......

  11. WOW!! I am sooooo envious...I cannot do bees....ever. Long story short - I was attacked as a kid - 50 stings at I am terrified of anything that buzzes when flying :-( But that honey looks fabulous!! But not good enough for me to get over my phobia. I will just find a local honey source to purchase it from!

  12. Great post! That's an amazing amount of honey!! You definitely have yourself a handy guy there! Can we swap for a couple of days?? I send "The Italian" out there to cook for you and then I could get some much needed things taken care of around here!

  13. MamaTea, now you know, that sounds like a real hoot! Cowboy boots required. Hunting boots acceptable!

    Jane, A. I feed them. B. Name calling here->Oldtimer!! C. The housecleaning robot is a Go. The car and spaceship...who you kidding! That would require leaving the farm and geesh! Who wants to do THAT?!

    BrokenRoad, oh bees for you! Totally understandable!

    Robin, food is my weakness! Deal!

  14. Well, we all knew you were sweet. But, man, oh, man are you SWEET! That almost makes me cry, all that honey. Is there nothing that man of yours can't do???

  15. that is awesome! love how you photographed everything so nicely. lovely photo.

  16. Wow, you are really in the honey business! When you do honey, you do it right! Great post. I had to call Papa Pea to come see it all. He was super-impressed with Pig Pen's fabricating abilities . . . and who wouldn't be? Good job done by both of you.

  17. Susan, nope- nothing that I have ever heard at least! He didn't do well in school with the learnin' stick, but I bet his teachers would be pretty amazed now ;O)

    Georgia, why thank you ma'am! I'll come visit you too!

    MamaPea, I still say that the two of them would make an awesome team! Thanks to you both!

  18. I remember chewing comb at a friend's house when I was little...they stored the comb next to their winter carrots and we'd eat winter carrots and comb on the sly.

  19. Amazing! Love the informative post, this is looking to be quite the honey farm! You might need to open up sales to the blogosphere... sign me up if you do!

  20. Wish I could have been there for the harvest. I remember so well how Dad loved honey in the honeycomb. We, as kids always chewed the comb and pretended it was gum. Can't imagine any kids nowadays doing that. I am so jealous of your Mom being there to help you.....I wanna help too!!!
    Love ya much, Aunt Diane

  21. City Sister, how could you not? No way no how!

    Erin, I'm tellin' ya, it's the only thing we got going around here!

    Aunt Diane, awe :( we wish you were here for it too! You would enjoy it so much! Someday! And see, all those Old Timers love the stuff!

  22. APG, that is awesome! We are honey virgins, but would love to start. I do the whole gardening thing, and we're getting the fruit trees started, and we have tons of walnuts each year, but honey?? That's a whole other story.

  23. Inviting you the Carnival of Home Preserving on my blog today and every Friday. Hope to see you there. Laura Williams’ Musings