First Time Honey Extraction

I needed to make room in the hive – they just build so quickly – so I removed a couple of frames. One frame was one of the original frames from the NUC, so it ‘s been in the hive since the beginning. All of those frames (4 or them) will need to be removed before winter because they don’t fit the top bar hive properly, so I figured it was a good time to start. The other frame was a top bar which had only a bit of comb on it, still white – so, very new – with some honey/nectar on either side. I decided to take it because they had a lot of other new builds going on and this one only had a little bit of their food stores on it. I hoped it wouldn’t disrupt them too much.

Unfortunately I didn’t photograph the white honeycomb on the top bar – the process for the two different frames was slightly different. 
The frame shown here is from a Langstroth hive, I believe.  It has a plastic base in the middle and was once a full rectangle before we cut it down to fit the top bar hive. You can read about that in this post

It was easy enough to prop up on one end in a large bowl, gently slice the wax cap off of the honey with a serrated bread knife and then take a flat wooden spatula and scrape the honey into the bowl.  Notice there is only honey at the top of this comb. This is after the old Queen had swarmed with her crew and there was no new larva.

It’s important, generally, to take capped honey – it means it has ripened beyond the nectar stage, or so I’ve read.  But of course, I’ve already admitted to taking a frame of new white comb with nectar in it. The final photo shows the difference in colour.

For the white comb on the top bar, I simply cut the comb from the top bar and squished it to release all of the honey.  The next step was to strain the honey and wax bits and pollen and whatever else into a jar.

It helps to mash and stir with a spoon.

Below, notice the colour difference – ripe honey is on the left. The viscosity differs a lot, too. The ripe honey is much thicker. The unripe honey/nectar tastes lighter and fruitier, though.

After resting for a day, or so, the little bits of pollen and wax rise to the top of the honey, so you can choose whether to skim them off the top, or eat them. And that’s it!  The ripe jar will be making it’s way to BC to my Dad, whom I promised the first harvest. It’s because of his childhood stories that I’ve always been so intrigued by these little gals.

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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