Now that the blueberry picking season is over, we finally had time to check the hives and extract some honey. We have six honey bee hives and keeping them alive and happy has been a struggle over the years. They are so important in the spring with pollination that we typically have not taken a lot of their honey just because we want them to have enough food for winter. But several of the hives have been very strong this year in terms of numbers so we knew that we would be getting some raw local honey…finally!
This photo shows a honey frame capped with wax and luckily we had a fair amount of similar frames. After gathering them from the hives, we set up shop in our kitchen and started removing the capped wax.
Next we inserted three frames at a time into our hand-cranked extractor. This is a laborious process and had us wishing we had bought the electric motorized extractor but a six frame motorized extractor is listed in the catalogs for $750 and that’s a lot of moola! The honey is extracted from the frames as it spins around and slowly drips down the inside of the extractor and then out into a bucket fitted with a strainer.
It’s always fun to start the honey extraction process but after having it take over our kitchen for 3 days complete with sticky floors and sticky pans, we were happy to finish this harvest.
If you are interested in raising honey bees and collecting honey, check out a local beekeeping club for beginner classes which typically are held in the winter. In New Hampshire check out the NH Beekeepers Association for a listing of local clubs. If beekeeping is not your thing, you can purchase local honey at area farm stands and farmer’s markets. In our next post on the blog, we’ll be adding a blueberry honey jam recipe which is real easy to make and low in sugar.