The time finally came this year to do our first proper honey harvest ! To say we were excited would be a bit of an understatement. We have kept bees for a few years now but what with one long, very cold winter and then a loss of half a hive due to a swarm we never felt we could do a proper honey harvest until this year. The bees health and happiness always has to prioritise our love of honey :-)
So we got prepared and in late August Mr Sweetpea popped into the hives and put a crown board with a porter bee escape on it just below the super. This means that the bees go out of their honey store area to look for more flowers and when they return they can't go back up into the super area (the super is a set of extra frames you put on top of your main hive so that the bees to create more honey there). This meant that we didn't bring lots of bees home with us.
He then popped back to the hives a few days later and removed the super frames from the hives. They were all empty of bees and ready to take home for processing.
The first job was to uncap the honey comb ready to be put into our new spinner. This was done with a hot knife and we collected the wax in a big plastic box (still pondering on what to do with the wax, any ideas gratefully received). It was quite amazing how different each frame smelt, some honey frames were very floral, others were more pungent/hormonal smelling.
We then popped 4 frames into the spinner ....... the children really enjoyed this bit, apologies for the blurry photos but as you can imagine the children were spinning the frames as quickly as they could and enjoying every minute of it.
Whilst this was being done I put our newly bought honey jars in the dishwasher to be washed and sterilised.
When all the frames had been spun we double filtered the honey into a special storage bucket. This made sure no bits of wax were in the final honey.
It was quite mesmerising watching the honey slowly pour out.
Finally came the time to bottle up all the honey. We found a fantastic company called Pattesons Glass where we bought some lovely hexagonal jars for a great price.
We only bought 30 jars to start with but had to buy some more as we ran out ! We never thought we would get over 30 jars of honey, the bees were obviously very happy this year.
I added some labels to the jars with some fascinating bee facts on them :-)
The frames were then popped back out and put near the hive they came from so the bees could clean up the final honey from them and pop it back into their hives.
It was a really lovely way to spend a day and I am hoping that as the hives grow in strength it will become a yearly family tradition.