|Liquid sunshine. Dark, rich honey.|
Honey extraction is not something one typically does in January.
|Wax caps from honey cells have lots of honey still attached.|
Will gently warm to separate honey from wax.
But what else do you do when you find that the hive is dead and you have several frames full of honey?
Yeah, I know, you could leave the honey intact to feed the new nucleus of bees you plan to get in the spring. And yes, we did leave honey in several frames just for that. However, how could we resist taking at least some of the honey for ourselves?
So, we extracted honey from eight frames from the hive box. We found no brood cells (those containing larvae) on the frames. We figure that something happened to the queen and when all of the brood had hatched and grown, the hive eventually died down, becoming too small to keep the hive warm when the temperatures fell.
|Cutting caps from honey cells.|
We will just start again. This hive had survived three years, so far. An improvement over the first. We’ll set one hive up near the house and the other in the spot where this hive had thrived for a while. We must become better beekeepers, though, at least more diligent ones, and check the hives more frequently – but not too frequently.
Anyway, we spent a cold, windy, snow-covered winter day cranking and spinning to extract the honey.
My husband set the oil pan warmer for our tractor inside an empty hive box, then put the box full of honey-filled frames on top and let it sit overnight. In the morning, he set the whole array near the wood burning stove. The oil pan warmer probably was not sufficient heat on its own. We conducted the whole extraction process near the stove to keep everything warm.
After working with the first set of frames, my husband thought that the honey was not warm enough, so he set a small shop light in with the last four frames. That was too hot and result in some melted wax and honey dripping onto the light (I was alerted to the fact by sweet-smelling smoke). But it turned out fine, anyway.
And then a little piece broke on the extractor. Yikes. Fortunately, we were at the end of the process. Unfortunately, now we have to find a welder to fix it, and inform our mentor of the mishap.
So it goes.
The clean-up process simply required hot water, but lots and lots of it. That didn’t take quite as long as the extraction process, but nearly so.
I am still finding sticky spots on things – doorknobs, the floor, my camera.