Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Low Rent Honey Filtration

All right, so I'm not especially proud of it but this contraption did the job! I went out on this drizzling afternoon and pulled four heavy frames from the honey super. I extracted the way a gal with one hive does, quick and dirty like. The plastic frames were scraped clean of all comb and honey and dumped into a stainless steel brew kettle. Then I poured the clumpy mess of honey and comb into a kitchen colander (standard issue) and using a kettle handle and an inverted hammer I was able to strain out the raw honey into a pyrex bowl my mom found for me at a yard sale. 20 pounds of honey were extracted this way in under an hour! I used special muth jars, mason jars, an old whisky bottle (which I saved for this very reason) and couldn't be happier. I didn't even get stung (at least not during the harvesting. I did get stung when I thought busting the lid off in a tank top was a good idea without my smoker, but just once).

Honeybees are wonderful. They are such easy livestock to keep and give back so much. I'll harvest the other six frames later this week but right now I am just feeling so darn satisfied about the honey surplus in this house! I think honey is a great gift as well, and will tie some baling twine around a few of my jars with a honey stick on them as housewarming presents. But most will stay right here, used for homebrewing and everyday use in tea, baking, glazing meats and spread over homemade breads. There is a saying that the first harvest of the season is the best tasting honey you'll ever have and I believe it! Mine is light and mountain-based, created from wildflowers, goldenrod, clover and tree blossoms. I savor it. And while it's origin is as scrappy as the rest of this farm it was harvested at zero expense in the form of fancy extractors or even much time. This morning all I had was half a squirt bottle of honey from the farm stand. Now I have enough to shower in it! Tonight I feel rich!

And will celebrate with my chicken dinner of roasted bird over kale and potatoes, a cold beer, and my 12,023 viewing of Braveheart.


Blogger Erin said...

Yay! Thank you for answering my unasked burning question! In my research into beekeeping I've always wondered "why not just crunch the comb and use a strainer?" Thank you for proving the simple method works sans special extractors.

August 13, 2014 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger CallieK said...

The reason we use extractors ( other than the fact we did 1300 lbs of honey in one day) is it allows you to extract the honey from the combs while leaving them mostly intact. We use sharp knives to thinly slice the wax caps off. You only want to harvest capped honey as the uncapped is not finished and the sugar content isn't high enough to prevent it from it from fermenting or growing mold. Once the honey combs are uncapped the frames get spun in the extractor and the empty combs go back in the hive intact so the bees will get right back to filling them with honey. If you destroy the combs the bees must remake them so its just a method that allows them to expend less energy and raw materials on building combs.

August 14, 2014 at 12:55 AM  
Blogger kj said...

Right on! That's how we've always done it! :)

August 14, 2014 at 5:25 AM  
Blogger The Kelly's Adventures in KY said...

Very Clever!!

August 14, 2014 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Sara said...

I love that make-shift extractor. Good example of now to improvise with what you have.

Have you ever made mead (honey wine) using your raw honey? If so, what method did you use to brew it?

August 14, 2014 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Jedediah said...

I'm happy to see that you got honey and a lot. The honey season around here was really bad and my bees don't even have enough to last them over the winter - a lot of beekeepers could harvest much or any honey here. But at least I got to work with them for the first time after putting them into the hive (a top bar hive) and they were very laid back about it. And did really neat work of their combs, despite the warnings and misgivings of traditional beekeepers.

August 14, 2014 at 4:46 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Jed, where are you located? Here was SO MUCH rain and blasts of heat then cool, seemed perfect for the bees.

August 14, 2014 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

And thanks guys! Any other rigs out there you care to share?

August 14, 2014 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Callie, you are so right. Extractors make A LOT of sense in big operations. I'm a girl with one hive on its first year, so quick and dirty. someday, extractors!

August 14, 2014 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger kj said...

We have a colander with handles that fits nicely within a bigger bowl or pot. Throw a dishtowel over it. No balancing :) we did two hives worth this way with no problems.

August 15, 2014 at 5:21 AM  
Blogger kj said...

We use a colander with handles. It fits nicely within a bigger bowl.No balancing :) Throw a dishtowel over the top. We've harvested two hives worth this way. Takes longer but we're in no hurry.

August 15, 2014 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger Jedediah said...

Jenna, I'm in Germany and we had a very, very hot summer with little rain. Apparently that was less than ideal, especially for a swarm that missed all the spring flowers (I only got it this year).

August 15, 2014 at 3:08 PM  
Blogger Little Terraced House said...

Hi guys, I know I am new to this, but if you want to save the wax, say for candles etc, can you separate it out this way, or do you really need another method?

August 16, 2014 at 4:19 AM  

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