Friday, September 21, 2012

The First Honey

 If you remember A bee adventure, then you'll know this day was a long time coming. Over a year ago we decided to give beekeeping a try, after honey bees colonized our porch eaves. In the months since I've posted about the ups and down of learning the trade. Now for the first time, I would dare to call myself a Beekeeper. Last weekend Whitney and I extracted honey for the first time, I guess you can tell I was pretty excited!
A frame of capped honey comb
Honey bees are unique in that they will keep packing away food stores far beyond what they need for survival. A smart beekeeper always makes certain that the bees have enough for themselves, then harvests the extra. Above you see a frame of capped honey ready for extracting. Bees cap the stored honey in the fall and then when it's needed, they chew the capping wax off for the colony to eat.  
Cutting off the capping wax
Before you can spin the honey out of the comb, you must cut off the capping wax to free up the honey in the comb. This wax will get melted and cleaned and Whit plans to try her hand at making lip balm this winter. Stay tuned for that!

frames ready to spin
 The uncapped frames are loaded into the extractor and spun. The spinning forces the honey out of the comb and onto the sides of the exctractor. The honey runs down the inside and pools in the bottom of the extractor.
the very first drop of honey
Eventually the honey pools enough and drops into the filter cloth. This was an exciting moment! Many long  months of reading, researching, hoping and planning, all came down to this. The very very first drop of honey. (que clinking glasses!)

Success at last!
After being filtered, the pure raw honey is poured into jars and capped. There is no heating so the honey remains totally pure and natual and will store indefinately as long as it's kept clean. This first jar was a huge acheivement, I can't even describe how proud I was and still am. Since pure raw honey is actually alive (non-pasturized) it's health atributes are unmatched, but should never be fed to young kids. The color of the honey can vary greatly and is attributed to what flowers the bees were visiting. Since we don't know where every bees went, we'll call ours "garden honey".
After the first jar, the honey kept flowing and we were able to store plenty for ourselves and will have some to sell and give as gifts. All in all this was a huge day for me. All the work and preperation finally paid off. Not unlike my first successful deer hunt, and that first taste of fresh tenderloin. Pure joy and achievement.
Now already I am planning and researching how to over winter my bees so that next spring they are even more healthy, happy and productive!
Thanks for stopping by. KJ


Alyssa said...

Love it! Congrats on your achievement. You worked so hard! I can't wait for a taste. :)

Anne @ Cup of Caffeine said...

This is so interesting and I'm glad your first honey harvest was a success. I also can't wait for a taste if that's possible :)