Today, Alison and I took our lives in our hands and extracted the honey from 20 full frames. In all, we have now got a kitchen full of about 70 lbs of fresh garden honey courtesy of our hard working lady friends. The day started with the de-capping of the combs, four of, and then putting those into the centrifuge – a giant salad spinner of sorts. After 60 turns of the handle, we open up and turn the combs around and give the other side 60 turns as well. repeat for the other 16 frames.
Of course, as soon as you get a good extraction, you have to empty the centrifuge through a double mesh filter and into a bucket (sterile of course). This filtering gets rid of various lumps of bees wax, assorted bee parts – legs, heads, the odd wing etc and leaves you with fresh, clean and very tasty honey ready for bottling.
It’s hard work, but not as hard as cleaning up afterwards and getting tiny lumps of sticky bees wax off the floor of the kitchen! The empty frames have all bee put back into a super and put on top of the two hives. While the centrifuge gets most of the honey out, it leaves everything sticky. The bees, on the other hand, will clean up everything and take it down into the brood box for winter stores. In return for this bounty, we get the combs back clean and dry and ready for storage.
We give the girls back the honey because it’s theirs after all, it would be cruel not to let them have some. We have kept back about 10 lbs of honey – in raw natural comb – for the girls to feed on over the preparation for winter and in early parts of the year when they need feeding ready to being. No sugar syrup this year for our girls!