Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

It's honey harvest time!

Posted by: Helen Yarmoska under Flowers, Trees, Vegetables, Weather Updated: September 16, 2011 - 8:11 AM

 

Honey PouringIt's been a weird weather garden season.  June started out wet and cold, then unbearable heat waves in July and August.  I didn't expect to get any honey this year from our bees. But nature took its course and we ended up with quite a number of frames of honey.
 
About 1/3 of bees in a hive seen in bottom box.

About 1/3 of bees in a hive seen in bottom box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beekeeping is wonderful and fun and I encourage as many people as possible to keep honeybees.  Not only because they are imperative to the health of our planet, but because they are fascinating and educational.  If you live in the city, think of the many perennials around you that would benefit from healthy pollination.  Don't just look down, look up.  Trees are perennial and create pollen as much as (if not more than) the flowers in your garden.  Honey bees pollinate an estimated 50-80% of the world's food supply.  They are very important and beneficial insects. 

The University of Minnesota has a great class on beekeeping.  http://www.extension.umn.edu/honeybees And anyone interested in keeping bees next summer should start right now ordering equipment and learning.

Keeping bees is fun and I always learn something new.  But today I have a little photo series on "how do you get the honey out?"

The first step is to suit up well.  As you can see, we are covered head to toe in protective gear.  The smaller boxes on

Pulling the honey from the hivesthe top is where the bees store the excess honey we use for our consumption.  We use a combination of smoke and a gentle brush to get the bees away from the honey frames.  This is usually an all day process and hard work.  A small box filled with honey and bees can weigh as much as 60 pounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we get the frames home, we keep them warm (not hot) until we are ready to extract.  The bees put a thin coat of wax over the top of the honey and we use a hot knife to cut through this layer.  After the honey is exposed we insert them into an extractor.  This works as a centrifuge where the honey is splattered against the walls as they are spun around, flipped, and spun again.  This is a slow and stick process!

We then filter the honey through cheesecloth into plastic food grade jugs.  Again these jugs need to be kept warm until we are ready to bottle.  There's also another process of saving all the wax, but I didn't have any shots of that (my fingers were too sticky for the camera!)

Honey has natural antibiotics and is the only food that can be sold to consumers in quantity without a food license.  However, all honey should be sold in new, clean, sanitized jars! 

Then the fun begins -- eating.  www.honey.com has some great recipes and is a wonderful site for education on

Cutting off the Cappingshoneybees. 

Cutting off the Cappings


I've been keeping bees for 10 years and enjoy every minute!  I may not be able to answer every question, but I can give you my opinion.  Do you have questions about honeybees?

 

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