Monday, October 25, 2010

Ohio Harvest

As I mentioned earlier (and didn't follow up on (like I promised I would (sorry))), I had a busy birthday weekend in late September, extracting, filtering, bottling (and eating) all the honey contained in these supers:

Full of tasties.

It was a bit of a light year. Three of the hives in Ohio are new after some harsh winter losses, so most of the harvest was from the oldest hive, which runs Minnesota Hygienic stock. Under the best of circumstances, each one of those medium supers can hold about 35 pounds, or 3-4 gallons of honey. This year, with most of the hives concentrating on building up enough stores for winter, the supers went on late and were only half filled by the time they were pulled off. It's important to remember that the bees NEED honey to survive the winter. They don't go to the trouble of making it just so that we can take it; each hive needs up to 80 pounds of honey to make it through the winter. Even with that, a strong hive might need supplemental feeding in the spring before the first nectar flow to jump start its brood-rearing.

Prior to my arrival, my dad had cleared the honey supers of bees and brought them to our house. As you can see, they were sealed up with an outer cover and several pots of geraniums, which served to keep curious bees from getting in and starting a feeding frenzy. They'd like nothing more than to take that honey back, so you have to be very careful and minimize the amount of time the frames of honey are out in the open. I missed a dime sized amount that dripped out of the first super as I was carrying it inside. Ten minutes later, this:

This probably warrants a women/fashion section joke (amirite?), but I'm not up to the task at the moment.

Braving the cloud of hungry bees, we slowly got through all the supers and sealed them back up. We like to recycle the comb, so they went back to the bees to clean out for a day and then into cold storage.  I'll be covering extraction methods (and storage) in their own articles, so for now, I'll leave you with some pictures from the harvest.

Super #1 and our Italian (shockingly, it didn't break down) tangential extractor.

Lookit dat honeeeeeey.  Awwww yeah!

Think Beiber can uncap honey like a pro?  I doubt it.

You spin me right round baby right round like an extractor baby right round round round.
You spin me right round baby right round spinning honey out of cells baby right round.

"Down the hole and through the filter to the bottling spigot we go," never made it as a nursery rhyme, but is germane to the subject at hand.

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