Rosey the Riveter

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Today the Bee Guild hosted the annual Extractaganza, where we all get together to extract some honey and have a yummy potluck lunch, then invite the public in to see how it's done.

Right off the bat, Dave showed us how to sterilize the bottles by dipping them in a solution and letting them air-dry.  Some day, I'll want to sell our honey and this will be important.  But right now, when the honey is just for us, I plan to use canning jars that will be washed in the dishwasher.

The set-up for actually extracting the honey is pretty simple.  A utility sink is ideal, because it has the drain in the bottom to catch all of the honey and cappings that drip out.  The board across is so you have something to lean the frames on.
In order to extract the honey from the frames, you first have to scrape off the wax that the bees use to seal in the honey.  There are several methods used to do this.  These folks here are using a multi-pronged tool that looks like what we used to tease our hair with in the 80s.

 Here, Gene is using a heat tool which is really nice.  But they are pretty pricey.
Once the frames are uncapped, they are placed in the extractor.  They must be placed with the top of the frames on the outside edge.  This is because the beeswax is actually built on a slight angle to keep the honey 'in', so placing them this way ensures the centripetal force will actually move the honey out.

Once the extractor is turned on (or cranked, if it's not an electric one), the honey starts to flow.  It's amazing to see, and I confess I can't wait until it's OUR honey that's flowing!
One tip I learned this year is that paint strainer bags are useful for straining the beeswax out of the honey.  This is why I love events like this... I always learn something new and helpful. 

After the honey is extracted, you need to let it sit for a week.  This is because no matter how much you strain it, there is always some sediment that will settle on the bottom, and using a bottler like this will ensure it stays on the bottom instead of getting transferred to the cute little bear honey jars.
And did I mention that it needs to be warm for the honey to flow?  That means no AC.  Extracting honey is not a comfortable job.  But it's worth it in the end!

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