First Honey Harvest

After nearly 18 months, two failed hives, and a long cold winter of worry, I harvested two frames of honey today! Only one of my hives produced any honey–and it looks like there are easily three or four more full frames in the super–so I decided to go the slower, low tech route of draining the frames rather than investing in an extractor. I belong to a bee club that shares an extractor but I will be away next weekend when they have the “extractaganza.” Even inexpensive hand crank extractors that do two frames at a time are over $300. I invested in a straining system for was closer to $100.

You can check out the very short video below that shows the system and doing the uncapping of the comb:

I haven’t messed with the bees for awhile. They appear active and healthy and the few times I have checked, there has been lots of fresh brood and plenty of bees in the box. I forgot that August is the time to dust them, so I added that to my list. You dust them with confectioner’s sugar over the course of a few weeks to help cut down on mites. They groom themselves to get the sugar off and take the mites along with it. I should do a mite test but I think I’ll just go with the sugar.

Every time I open the hives, I learn. The lesson today was two fold: get the smoker working at full capacity before you get to the hive and, if you have a specific goal, don’t use the time to do a full hive inspection of the non-honey-producing hive. They tolerated me checking a frame in the top box but were not at all happy when I moved that top box in an effort to check out the bottom box, something I haven’t done since early spring when I swapped the boxes. Even in a bee suit, angry bees are scary bees. I got stung through the suit on my knee. I retreated, relighted and got the hive back together pretty quickly before grabbing a few frames from the other hive. I didn’t both to do any kind of inspection. I will give them a couple days to calm down before doing the sugar treatment.

I had to try a little of the honey and I think it’s pretty good. It’s a light honey–we have lots of clover–but it has a good, solid honey flavor. We should get about 5 to 6 pounds from the two frames I brought up and I may do 2 more before the season is over. I’m already looking for baking recipes that use honey as the sweetener and I added some to a lovely cold brew decaf with milk and a little vodka: wonderfully refreshing as we head into the evening.

Dinner is pan seared tuna (a gift from friends who went to the Outer Banks) with roasted vegies and pasta in tomato jam made by another friend. I had never had it before and found it very good: he thought it was a little too sweet but I think some pasta and cheese will help cut the sweetness and make a nice summery sauce. We’re having King Arthur Flour’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake made as cupcakes and I’m going to put on Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Icing. I see it as a perfect balance of healthy (whole wheat and zucchini) and sinful (lots of Penzey’s Natural High Fat Cocoa Powder).

I took advantage of the hot oven and baked a batch of King Arthur Flour’s Simplest Muffins using shredded carrots and raisins as mix ins. We have had an amazing carrot crop this year: Bob did purple haze along with some vibrant orange and yellow.

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