09 August 2017

Extraction

So. Much. Honey.
As if we weren't busy enough packing up an entire farm worth of things, Jack mentioned that we should probably harvest a couple of the hives so we didn't lose the honey when we transport the bees (don't even ask me how Jack's planning on doing that). The first night, Jack did the Italian hive, that turns out, was missing a queen and was quickly dying. Most likely, they are the bees who swarmed and made their home in the hive up front and though ants, wax worms, and wasps were all drooling over the thought of raiding a weakened hive, Jack found them just in time so we were able to get quite a bit of honey harvested. When that was done, he put the bee escape on the Purdue Leg Chewer hive, so that once the bees left the super that was brimming full of honey, they couldn't get back in. A day later, the bees had been evacuated and while the kids and I cleaned up after dinner, Jack brought in the super and prepared it for extraction.
Best seat in the house!
Harvesting honey isn't too tricky with the help of a couple specialty tools: an uncapping knife, which is essentially a metal knife that heats up and slices off the wax caps of the honey comb and a honey extractor, which used centrifugal force to suck the honey right out of the comb. Here, the kids demonstrate how fun it can be:

In all the excitement of delicious honey being harvested, no one happened to notice that Henry decided to "help" by turning the release spout handle, leaking precious honey all over the mudroom floor.
Guess I needed to scrub the floor anyway...
After a roaring, "Get out, Henry!", Jack and I got to work, trying to salvage what honey we could. For a moment I contemplated scraping it up and filtering it but knowing it was sticking to the mud room floor--the room where dog hair, shoes with chicken manure on the soles, and mud regularly coexist--we decided against it. But, being the frugal people we are, we couldn't just throw away all that honey. So, we did scrape it up and filled two mason jars worth of honey that will be re-fed back to the bees, who will, in turn, make it into new, clean honey.
So tempting! But I talked him out of it.
If anyone ever wonders why I don't answer the phone every time they call, it's because my life is full of instances like these, being arm deep in cleaning up something. Thankfully, there was still pounds of honey left in the extractor, so the hard work wasn't all for nothing. Next time, we'll just have to remember to keep an eye on darling little Henry.
Plenty left for food storage!

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