I extracted some honey in my garage over the past couple of days. I’d like to say there’s a precise method to my extraction process, but like everything in beekeeping, there isn’t — and don’t let nobody tell ya no different (just like Sling Blade would say). Now let’s take a gander at how it all went down:
00:00 — Intro to the extractor. Everything is sanitized, from the extractor to the stainless steel honey filter to the honey bucket. The garage might look rough, but it’s well ventilated and there are no chemicals or gasoline or any toxic fumes floating around.
01:00 — Extracting the first three frames. I slowly increase the speed until it’s at full speed. I mention that I might be able to get more honey if I extract only three frames at a time instead of six. Now that I’ve done it, I think six is fine. I just need to make sure all the honey has been flung out of them. After turning the extractor on to full speed, I usually walk away and leave it alone for about 15 minutes. It probably only takes a few minutes to fully extract the honey, but I’m in no rush.
02:00 — Taking a taste of honey. It’s finger licking good.
02:15 — Thick honey frames. The frames got thick because I put eight frames in a 10-frame super. I make reference to this Escape Board video while explaining how the bees made the thick frames of honey.
03:30 — Decapping the honey with a heat gun. I explain in detail how this method only works well with dry cappings and I show exactly how I do it. Traditional methods of decapping honey frames creates a lot of leftover honey and wax which I don’t like to deal with. Those who use beeswax for creams and so on probably wouldn’t do this.
06:35 — The frames after they’ve been extracted. This shot also shows what the comb looks like after it’s been decapped with the heat gun.
07:10 — Another taste of honey on my finger. The honey always seems sweeter when it comes directly from the extractor.
07:30 — Bees cleaning out honey supers. The extracted frames are left outside for the bees to clean up. They’re a fair distance from the hives so as not to trigger robbing.
08:50 — A demonstration of the extractor’s settings. The VARIABLE setting is used to slowly increase the speed. Then once we know the frames are balanced and the frames aren’t flying to pieces, we switch it to FULL speed ahead.
11:25 — The last of the honey boxes being cleaned out by the bees. Some talk about how much honey I got from my hives. I haven’t gotten as much honey from my bees since I started beekeeping in Flatrock.
12:05 — Tipping the extractor. The extractor is unbolted from its base and tilted in order to pour out honey that’s left over in the bottom of the extractor (and it’s a fair bit of honey).
I’m happy with the amount of honey I got from my bees this year. It’s the most honey I’ve gotten since I’ve been keeping bees in Flatrock (which is close to the ocean and probably colder than what most beekeepers on the island have to deal with).
The first big bucket that I extracted was probably made mostly from late season goldenrod nectar. The second big bucket, taken from frames that were capped earlier in the year, was probably a mix of fireweed and clover. It was lighter, delicate and more watery than the goldenrod nectar. Pure fireweed honey almost looks white. This isn’t that. I doubt anyone on the island produces pure fireweed honey, despite labelling that states otherwise.
I will keep 12 litres of honey for my 2-person household to last us until next year. I’ll give away a fair bit. I’ll trade some. Then I’ll sell off the rest.