Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Summer Honey - The Journey

-Posted by Isaac

It's harvest time. For the past two weeks I've been pulling the summer honey. It's gorgeous this year. Beautiful and light. On the right is this year's Summer:
We seem to have a fan of last year's honey. 
 It's a decent crop. Not incredible, but it sure beats the misery of last summer, which was a mere 27 lb / hive average. We have at least doubled that and we've still got the coming goldenrod this fall.
Two or three bee yards and about a thousand pounds of extracted honey per day has been status quo of late. If we can keep this up until the end of August we'll keep the kids in clothes for another year.

The clover went crazy this year, as some of you have mentioned.

I think this may be the reason this year's summer honey is lighter. More clover, less thistle and soybean? I don't know... it tastes about the same. It's definitely been drier this summer. But still cool. One of these years it may actually hit 90 degrees-- then we'll really have a crop!

During last year's summer honey extraction I showed you some of the different forage that the bees seek out... from flower nectar turned into honey. Now we'll take a tour of the honey processing... from hive to table.
Here are some pictures taken over the last few days.

A bee yard: ten to twenty hives depending on the surrounding forage. We're up to 29 bee yards.
The upper boxes are the honey supers-


Just as it is with people, some are go-getters...


...and some are slouches.

Don't you wish they could all be Boomers?


So the honey-laden supers are taken off the hives and loaded on the truck. Some days are harder then others. I won't get into the specifics.
This load happened to come off the golf course:


They hate it when I drive across the greens.
But it's so fun!

The honey gets stacked in the drying room / hot room. This year, most of the honey has been coming in at 16.5 to 17.5% moisture. No drying required.


The stack can get pretty high when we get behind on the extracting.


Eventually the frames come out and are run through the uncapper. This takes the outside wax capping off the honey so that the extractor can "sling" it out of the honeycomb cells.
Petyn and Bridger- our honey models.


The liquid honey goes into a large settling tank...


And is drained into buckets or barrels at the end of the day:
Light, Pure, Raw... High Quality Honey!

 If we turn our heads just a second, Bridger takes an opportunity to sample.


The boy is uncontrollable.

The honey is weighed,

And put into storage.

Here it awaits bottling. Could be now, could be next year...

The wax capping I mentioned earlier takes another journey.
The honey-soaked wax drains for a day or two...


...then is taken out to the bees. 
Honey bee cappuccino.
I have resisted buying a cappings spinner because I like watching this.

They chew on this little treat for another day or two, "fluff it up," and the loose wax gets rendered, filtered and poured into bucket molds:


From this point it can take about any form.


One thing we've been doing lately is dipped candles.
The wax is remelted:

And the wicks are "dipped" over and over.


Jayne will explain this in depth on a future post.

Back to the honey...
Empty frames go back into the supers.

Some "wet" supers go directly back on the hives with the hope that the bees will fill them with fall honey.

Others are cleaned out by the lucky bees here at home.


 What a morning treat!
They make short work of it.


For store shelves and the markets, the honey is pumped into the bottling tanks, never heated above the natural temperature of a beehive (we never go above 100 degrees), and strained through a cloth filter. The fabric still lets the pollen grains through and under this low heat, the honey remains raw with the enzymes intact.


The summer honey takes other forms. 
It's the one we use for the granulated, spreadable honey. It is also bottled around chunks of comb and sold as chunk honey. 
And it can be steeped with herbs for a couple of weeks and turned into infused honey:


All material for future blog posts.

So unti next time...
Enjoy!
Maizy likes her summer honey with Lucky Cat bread.

3 comments:

  1. This was fascinating, thank you for sharing the process! I'm nearing the end of the honey I bought from you at HoneyFest last year...should have just enough to get me through to this year's!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jen!
      See you at HoneyFest.

      Isaac

      Delete
  2. Good to see another apiary having a good year. Do you guys have a YouTube channel

    ReplyDelete