Rosey the Riveter

Monday, January 23, 2017

Harvesting Honey the Old Fashioned Way

Unlike many beekeepers who will not admit to their short-comings, I guiltily admit to neglecting my girls.  Torrential downpours and tropical heat do not make for ideal hive-checking conditions.  This morning I went for a walk after I put the (human) girls on the bus and it was one of those rare days when it was almost... dare I say... pleasant.  So I vowed when I got home I would don the jacket, fire up the smoker, and say hello to the bees.

I did not bother to look for either queen because both hives had eggs and larvae.  But the most exciting thing for me was finding a full frame of capped honey.  Checking to make sure I wasn't depleting their stock, I put that frame aside and closed up shop before they got too mad at me.  Back in VA, it was easier to rob the bees because we'd do it a box at a time, using special (but safe) fumes the bees didn't like.  They'd hunker down in the lower part of the hive, we'd lift off the box of honey, and off we'd go.  This morning, I had to brush the bees off the frame, walk away from the hive, brush some more bees off, walk further away, brush more bees off... you get the picture.  Only when I was satisfied that all bees were off the frame (and my jacket) could I take it inside.
 I never imagined I'd have bees in Guam, so I left my Extractor in storage.  I wouldn't have used it for just one frame, anyway, because it makes a mess and wouldn't be worth the hassle.  Instead, I resorted to the age-old practice of 'crush and strain', which is exactly what it implies.
 You take the wax off the frame, crush it, and strain it to remove any 'impurities' (like bee legs or larvae).  Obviously, this means the wax is destroyed.  Had I used an extractor the whole frame could have gone back into the hive for the bees to fill again.  But that's ok.  Bees are busy and they'll make more.  And the wax certainly won't go to waste.  I'll clean it, melt it, and use it in my salves and soap-making.
 Voila!  One full quart of honey and about 3 more cups in the bottom of the bowl.,, about 84 oz of honey.  Here in Guam, the going rate is $20/lb, which means I just harvested $105 worth of honey.  NOT THAT IT'S FOR SALE. Because it isn't!

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