It's honey harvest time! We collect honey from our hives twice a year — once in the summer and once in late fall — and this is how the honey extraction process works around our homestead.
Our honey is acquired through the placement of extra boxes and frames on top of the hives that allow for the separation of our honey from the supply of honey the bees make and store for their own use. The bees happily build and fill the extra frames. In fact, it's thought that this added work provides the means to increasing the bee population. More work = more workers = more bees and the survival of humanity.
Bees eat honey, so the bulk of it is left for them to survive the cold months when it's nearly impossible to produce more.
Collecting the Supers
A super is a sort of hive extension that serves as the top layer of the hive and is used to promote the bees' natural work of building honey combs and filling them up. Each super contains 10 frames on which the bees build and fill.
When it's time to harvest, we go around to each hive with a full super, remove that top layer, and take the frames within to be extracted.
Each frame is double-sided with honey comb made by the bees, filled with honey and capped for safe keeping. The bees use this same method on the lower levels of the hive where their colony honey is stored.
Removing the Caps
Using special scraping tools, we carefully remove the caps by lifting the top layer off of each side of the frame exposing the honey underneath.
Spinning the Honey
Then it's just a matter of emptying the extracted honey through the spigot into a container. And lastly, we filter the honey through a fine mesh cloth to remove any debris and bits of honey comb that came off during the extraction process. Done! We end up with 25-30 pounds of honey from each super — totally unheated and raw, complete with all of its amazing nutrients.
Keeping bees can be labor intensive at times — and you get stung a little — but to us it's SO worth it!
Where do you get your favorite raw honey?