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Monday, June 29, 2009

My honey last

I can't believe we have been official beekeepers for 14 months now and just today I finally harvested our first bit of honey! I have been waiting on this day for 14 months!;-) To make it worse I had to fight with the extractor. I had thoroughly cleaned it and fought like a wet settin' hen trying to get it put back together again. Finally everything is ready for me to get the frames from the hive. I suit up....but before going to "the" hive I stop in to check on our two "newbee" hives that we rescued last week. Both of them are only about a frame a piece, but I can't help it, me and my husband can't see or stand to hear about someone spraying them to death, so we rescue them no matter how small the swarm is, besides when their queen hatches (if they don't already have one) they'll be growing before we know it. I have pics of them too that I'll post. ANYWAY....they are fine so I head for "the" hive take the top off everything is looking great, I was just in them yesterday telling them what the plan was, and started hearing pops on my hat.......I wasn't really seeing them swarming me then after a few minutes it dawned on was starting to rain! I could not believe it!!! So I grabbed a frame (when I say grabbed...I mean I carefully pulled it up) ;-) Brushed of the bees and ran it inside so I could get back out before it started raining to hard, I carefully pulled another frame and brushed the girls off set it down pulled another one making three. Put everything back like it was and made my way back inside to harvest. I wanted to make sure I had enough time to extract the honey and be able to put the frames back in the hive before it got to late in the evening. Mission accomplished. The girls were happy and so was I. We have been sooo "bizzy" with saving swarms for people that want to see them die or "bee" anywhere except where they are, that we haven't been taking any honey for ourselves but just giving it to the "newbees" to give them a better start. I actually only took three frames from one of our swarms that we rescued the first of April. They have been without a queen for a few weeks now but a new one should be hatching out any day now. A couple of weeks ago I put a frame of eggs and brood from one of our other hives in with them so they could produce their own queen, and so far so good. I had done this in a couple of our other hives that lost their queen as well and it has worked wonderfully. This way we don't have to worry about them excepting or NOT excepting a purchased queen.
Getting back to the hive I harvested from.....They have the brood box and shallow box (honey box) full of honey and pollen, so I needed to pull some frames and extract the honey so they will have some room for brood when their queen hatches, mates and begins to lay her eggs. After I harvested the honey I put the frames back in their box to be filled again. This time things will be faster and easier because they've already pulled the cells (comb) out. The first picture is of one of the frames of capped honey. This second picture is the cap being cut off. You can purchase a heating knife but I'm not usually near an outlet so to me this would've been a waste of money when a bread knife or serrated knife works just as good. The honey looks so golden here but when it ran it was so clear.

Here is a picture where it came off in such beautiful sheets, I was thinking if I could rinse it very carefully I might could roll them up and make candles(?) We'll see. I'll let you know how that thought comes to life.

This is the finished product. The pics make it look darker than what we see it, maybe because it's dark outside and the lighting isn't that good for these pictures. tastes soooo good! I know I won't ever buy honey again. This is better and healthier than any honey you can buy in the store! We were reading allot about store bought honey and what they do to it before it gets to the store is not good. That story is for another day.
I got 18 4-ounce jars plus 2 pint jars and an 8 ounce jar out of just three frames. Not bad for our first harvest. In this bottom pic (between the two jars up front) that's a honey comb that I took out of one of our hives a while back. We were waiting on a shipment of frames to come in because we didn't have enough for one of our hives and they started building their own;-)
We have learned allot about bees over the internet, but most of the info is from colder climates. I'm here to tell ya that the heat can take it's toll on a hive and plastic frames. Our poor girls have battled so much here in the deep south. Last year we only had one hive and battled small hive beetles all summer long. This summer I almost lost "our wall" rescue hive to wax moths. I have pics and will post them next time. I have sooo much to write about and soooo many more in pictures. I will try my best to be more diligent in writing more to this blog.
Until then TTFN!
Lots of HONEY you'll need to eat;-)