Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Deadout Honey Harvest

Our deadout had a lot of honey still in it and even though we opened up the hive for the bees from the lang to rob it out, the weather was weird and the bees were just as interested in their own sugar supply upstairs in their own dry hive and they mostly left the deadout alone except when it was really warm, which it hasn't been.

So I took three frames of honey and pollen from the deadout and put them in the lang and then decided to harvest the rest of the honey in the deadout ourselves.

In March.

When it's cold outside.   Snowing even.

People who know suggest that the best temperature to harvest honey is around 90 degrees.

Hahahahaha!   HAHAHAHAHA!   I laughed in the face of our 30 degree outdoor temp and 65 degree indoor temp. 

And then I crushed all the comb and put it in big pans in the oven, set on the lowest temp, which happens to be 170 degrees, which is warmer than 65 degrees.   And I let it warm up. 

While it warmed up, I set up the new bucket and double sieve unit that I got us for Christmas from Betterbee.com.  It cost about $65.

The sieve has two parts - the top one sits inside the finer one which has props to keep it up on the bucket.   I loved that.

The 6 gallon bucket has a gate at the bottom to let the honey out when it's all done filtering.

We were hoping that this would be a lot easier than the way we did our first harvest in October.

Because that was kind of a mess.   And time intensive.   And labor intensive.   

Crushing was no problem, but the trick was to keep it warm while the honey was actually straining out of the comb and to do that, Eric rigged a sunlamp to shine on the stuff in the strainer.

We took the warm comb out of the oven and piled it in the strainer and let the light shine on it.

The heat system worked like a charm.   A charm, I tell you!   It kept things just warm enough to flow easily.

Then we walked away and did other stuff while it strained.

A miracle.  

As the honey strained, we added more of the crushed comb until all that was left was a big pile of wet sticky comb.

So we put a plastic lid on it from a gallon bucket for ice cream, then covered that with a big plastic grocery bag and put 2 nice 7.5 lb weights on it overnight. 

In the morning the honey was pushed out and it was ready to bottle.

Using the gate on the bucket was fabulous.   It went fast and was not messy at all.   Once it was all empty, it cleaned up quickly and easily.

This was seriously the best honey money we've spent so far.    I was able to do most of the harvest by myself and able to do other things while it strained.   So much less work than the first time.  

We harvested 14.5 lbs of honey this time.   I didn't swear once.  

I highly recommend something like this for the hobbyist beekeeper.   If you're harvesting honey from just a hive at a time or so, then this works great.

One thing I wish was that the strainer fit over the whole bucket so you could invert one bucket over the other and let it sit overnight.   As it is, I think we can pack a gallon ice cream bucket with warm crushed comb and it will fit right in the strainer upside down to drain by itself [if we line the bucket with plastic and put holes in the bottom of it so air can suck in as the honey goes out - so a vacuum doesn't form.]

1 comment:

  1. Hah! That was the best post. Funny. Informative. Awe-inspiring. Understandable. You can't tell me that the folks at Sue-Bee wait until it's 90 degrees out to harvest their honey either. Very innovative.

    And for now, I'll let you do all the honey-harvesting, while I'll sit here drinking orange-ginger-mint tea (with honey) and watch.



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