Sunday, October 24, 2010

BEEmused: Honey Extraction 2010!

the extraction begins HERE:
incensing the bees as you remove the frames from the beehives. Our senior beekeeper was stung four times, his youngest apprentice, only three. :(

The above is a photo of a filled frame before uncapping.

these particular frames had been frozen.
He heated the wax a bit to ensure it wasn't frozen.

The first step in the process is to break or remove all of the caps, this may be accomplished with an automated uncapper or with a manually operated knife. The removed bits of wax, called uncappings, are rich in honey which can be slowly drained off with the help of some heating.

The uncapped frames are then placed in a honey extractor, which spins them so that most of the honey is removed by the force of spinning.

The resulting honey will contain bits of wax and must be passed through a screen so that clean liquid honey results.

more honey continues to drain from the wax from the extracted honey.
Unwanted hive debris, bits of wax, and so on may still appear in extracted honey no matter how carefully you perform the extraction process. After being jarred, the honey will naturally filter itself, as any wax and residue will rise to the top. Upon opening, the wax can be neatly scraped from the top before the first consumption.

Not necessarily part of the process, popcorn may be used to catch any stray drippings. (I caught the little guy doing this and thought the combination unusual. Think, caramel corn.)

the result: no-heat, unfiltered 100% raw Oklahoma honey.
We have about 17 quarts+ 30 pint-jars full, a decent yield for our small operation.
And because of the frozen frames taken from earlier in the year, we have TWO VARIETIES, each having a distinct flavor.

Any honey that can't be harvested, which includes any left on the frames after extraction, can be placed outside so that it will be reclaimed by the bees. This must be done early in the morning or late in the evening as the bees will aggressively harvest such a rich source. As I look out the back window this morning, I am watching them devour the remnants.

After extraction last night, we counted and estimated that we extracted twice as much as the past two years. This means that we may be able to sell and share our honey with others who have been asking. Of course, there will be a limited supply, but it is exciting to merely consider the yield.

Our extraction process has gotten much simpler and much less laborious, messy and time-consuming. Also, my appreciation for these thousands of busy bees has increased exponentially over the years. The entire process is amazing. Their God-given design allows us to enjoy and savor the fruits of THEIR hard work. And how fortunate we are to be able to do so!

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