Honey: last name ever, first name greatest.
That is a finished product jar of honey. All of the past Wednesday (8 am to 5 pm) was dedicated to the honey harvest, and it was by far my favorite thing I have done at the farm. Its a lot simpler than I thought it would be, and I took pictures of almost every step.
Step one (shown above): suit up and go to the hives. The lovely Jessica is pictured here. The combs are on rectangles stacked on their sides in a hive, and hives look a lot like big white boxes files are kept in. The combs that are judged as ‘ready’ are put in tupperware and brought to the processing building.
These are a few of the boxes we brought the combs in
^^ A close up of pre-harvested goodness ^^
After bringing it inside, the rectangles are ‘trimmed’ so no big chunks of comb are sticking off the sides, as shown here by my friend Katherine. It is also scraped with a sharp brush-like instrument to open any closed honey portals. (honey portals? sure.)
Next the trimmed combs are put into this device. It pretty much looks like a huge ice cream maker. Inside two combs fit standing on their side, and are spun using the crank pictured above. Each side is spun for 4-5 minutes, turned, spun again, turned then spun a final time. (between milking and honey harvesting, I’ll have some boss forearms when I leave here)
This picture shows me and Elise scraping the combs mid turn. The honey flows out of this large metal structure through a spout, and into a (pre-sanitized) bucket covered by a filter.
After the bucket gets full, they are switched out and canning begins. Basically it looks just like this.
A shot of some of the nice bees who made the honey for us. Seriously, how cool is that?
(note: nobody processing is wearing any protective gear, obviously. There really weren’t any bees that came in with the combs, just a handful of sneaky ones. The ones that did get in weren’t aggressive, they could easily be blown/flicked away. All in all, I think only two stings were sustained that day)
This is some really pretty comb that we brought back, it didn’t fill the entire rectangle so it wasn’t spun, instead we cut it and put the nicer-looking combs into some of the jars.
Honey filled comb that was put into the jars.
The finished product is shown above (1st picture), and here is the label:
Hat tip to my eldest brother here, rumor has it he altered the WHRI logo specifically for honey harvest.
Apparently we harvested roughly 20 gallons of honey, over half of which has been sold already. I purchased the limit (4 jars) to bring home.
After harvest I got to suit up and take the rectangles (sure, they have proper names, but who knows what those are?) back to the hives and mingle with all the bees. It was one of the coolest things I have ever done, I felt like an astronaut.
(pics coming soon of that adventure)
Tonight we are having a ‘wax party’ with some leftover bees’ wax, making candles and such.