Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Last Honey Harvest

This is the contraption I use to extract honey from the frames of honeycomb so that it can run off as liquid honey and be bottled for use. It's a simple centrifuge which holds two frames of honey, and can then be spun round by means of  me turning a handle and the liquid honey is thrown out to the sides of the drum and runs down to the bottom. But before this can happen the frames of honey comb  have to be uncapped, that is, the sealed cells  where the bees have stored the honey have to be broken open, so that the honey can drain out, a job most easily managed by slicing off  the top layer of was with a serrated knife. Here I'm slicing off the top layer of wax with a bread knife.

As you might imagine this is all quite a faff, you have to cover the whole area of the kitchen with newspaper, or you end up with annoying bits of sticky floor which are impossible to clean. Plus the equipment has to be cleaned and stored. One of the main reasons why I'm keen to adopt the natural beekeeping methods and use a top bar hive, with which I will harvest honey on the comb, and not bother so much with the centrifuge.

Anyway I'm happy with my harvest of honey this year, the girls have done really well for me, but they will soon be preparing for winter which will entail expelling all the drones (males) from the hive as  they do no work and are not needed for mating, and the remaining female workers will  settle down to a winter of safeguarding the queen, looking after the hive and waiting for the spring. I will shortly be checking them for evidence of Varroa mite, and treating them appropriately if I need to, before seeing them bedded in for the winter with a plentiful food supply, and a nice warm watertight hive.  

5 comments:

  1. Dear Kathy, I suspected it previously and now, from your detailed posting, I know that beekeeping is a labour of love, a science, an art and jolly hard work. I am so pleased that your bees have been productive this year and am certain that the honey will be delicious........your efforts have certainly deserved a sweet reward!!

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  2. hello, new to your bog. Just a quick question, how do you expel the males?
    Sue

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  3. Hello Edith, It is indeed a bit labour intensive at some times of the year, but strangely addictive even so.

    Hi Nearly50 and trying to be Frugal - The answer is that I don't expel them, the bees do it themselves - males, or drones are only really needed for reproduction purposes which doesn't take place during the winter, so they would simply be a drain on the resources of the hive, and so the workers expel all the males during the autumn. New drones are produced the following spring when the queen starts to lay again.

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  4. Love your beautiful life in England. The honey is so inspiring that my mouth just waters.
    Thank you for sharing your gifts of simplicity.

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  5. Ahh, that honey looks grand. We had a top bar hive built for my mother (she has the garden, we don't), but have yet to get any bees in it. Looking forward to next year though. It's funny, we heard about these a few years ago and everyone thought we were mad when we mentioned them, but now I hear about them everywhere - it's great.

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