Adventures in Small Scale Farming in an English Cottage Garden with Seasonal Tips and Recipes
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.