This year for the first year in quite a few I’ve moved my bees to the honey rather than wait for the honey to come to me.
We’ve been chopping down some fairly hefty trees in the garden this winter so we moved the hives so the chain saw and falling branches didn’t upset them.
In principle this is fine but actually having an out apiary is a lot more involved and calls for organisation. No more wandering back to the shed, leaving the hive open to fetch forgotten equipment.
Extraction is one of the more involved parts of this. The hives are on a farm that grows acres of oil seed rape. A love it or leave it honey. It is very sweet, very pale and sets like stone in the hive if not removed rapidly. Once set you can only really melt down the whole frame to get to it or leave it for the bees.
With this in mind it is the only honey that I extract before the bees have capped it with wax. It’s a fine line, if you take it to early it doesn’t keep. If you leave it another week it can be to late.
I extract on a Friday, if I can, so that hubby and I can spin it during that evening. I only have a 4 frame extractor and have been known to work until 2am to get it finished. The idea is that this year I can start much earlier in the evening without having to wait until the bees have gone to bed. The bee buddy had the same idea last year and having cleared his hives prior to a planned house move, he merrily started his extraction straight after tea. By 7 he had given up, with a house full of bees, most of them in the extractor and our hair. Turns out a neighbour he didn’t know about had started keeping bees 1\2 a mile away and bees have a good sense of smell. We were inundated!
So first we slice of any wax as thinly as possible. There’s lots of tools to do this. I use a bread knife and a baking tray. I warm the wax slightly and pour it through a muslin cloth if I have any quantity. That wasn’t necessary this time and the whole lot went straight into the solar extractor the next morning.
Then it’s spun.
It’s then filtered into a bucket and left to stand for at least 24 hours.
This is the resulting debris as it settles on the surface waiting to be shimmed off.
This bucket will hold around 30lb so I’m very happy with that. We were done and cleaned up by 10.30. Just got to jar it all now.
I use my honey to pay towards car repairs, the garage owner is a fanatical sports man and swears it helps him win Mr Ironman competitions. 7 jars pays for an MOT, I’m not sure I have enough for the new clutch being fitted this week but I can dream!