Tuesday, September 4, 2012

So work the honey-bees

Over Labor Day weekend, we were invited by our friends Troy and Molly to help harvest honey from their beehives.  Actually, to be more accurate, Troy removed the honeycombs and we aided in the process of getting the honey out of the combs and into bottles.
Here's Troy with his bee mask and a device which contains a flammable material (similar to styrofoam) which, when lit, produces an abundance of smoke.  There is a bellows on the side of the device to expel the smoke into the beehive.  This pacifies the bees during the harvesting process, ideally minimizing defensive behavior.
As you can see, I kept my distance anyway.
Here is what one honeycomb looked like.  A few of them were much fuller than this one.
In the foreground, in the cart, you can see the honeycombs.  The silver device is a honey-extractor in which the honeycombs are placed and centrifugal forces extract the honey.
But first the honeycomb must be scraped.  The scraper is similar to a comb, but with sharp edges.  One runs it down the honeycomb to break the wax seal, allowing the honey to flow freely.
Like so.
And this is how it looks inside.
Of course, as you well know, honey flows better when warm, so sometimes a little encouragement is called for.
We are almost ready to pour!
A filter is placed on top of the bucket.  A good deal of wax and other bee stuff needs to be filtered out, but we are close to honey... We just have to sit and watch it slowly pass through the filter.
This part takes a while.
Soon we will star jarring.
Success!  The harvest was a couple dozen of these and Laurie and I were able to take some home!  It was a wonderful and fascinating day, one which I shall remember for the rest of my life. 

1 comment:

  1. and of course in literature there's, Virgil's 4th Georgic which deals with their care, Maurice Maeterlink's 'The Life of the Bee' a mystical look at their social organisation and the economics analogy of Berard Mandeville's 'Fable of the Bees'.

    Great little chaps, the destiny of the species sadly in peril with our inter-linked future. existence,