Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One of the most incredible experiences I've ever had.

Hive Urania, Hive Terpsichore’s sister hive, was ready for harvest last weekend (Sunday, July 12 was the big day). It really was unbelievable, but not because we doubted the bees, but because we were told (by various Guild members, library books, blogs, etc.) not to expect much (if at all) of a honey harvest the first year.

It’s hard for me to think of words to describe the experience, so I’d like to share pictures, a little video, and words as they ‘transpire’.

Cliché it may be, but ‘words fail’.

The adventure

New equipment: Extractor, capping tub, extra frames, sieve.

The hose was set to ‘mist’, the smoker was set, and armed with bunches of rosemary, oregano, and/or lavender (to brush bees, it’s best to use plants instead of brushes and/or leather), we all had our stations.

Jennifer and Mark lifted the heavy, honey –laden supers (one at a time) and placed them on the table. (keep in mind, there are four honey supers here, and we only harvested two of them)

The best tool, the one that lifts heavy, honey filled frames from the super.

a frame completely full of the most gorgeously golden honey!!

Brushing the bees gently from the frame with branches.

And then...

Each frame was brought to the capping tub. Another ingenious tool awaited us there, a simple screw on a piece of wood, allowing the frame to balance over the tub without crushing any of the honey and allowing a smooth capping ‘experience’. And experience it was!! This video is only about 16 seconds long, but it captures much of the beauty of the moment:

The extractor we have only takes three frames at a time, so after they are loaded in:

The crank is turned rapidly, much like a giant salad spinner. :)

Frames emerge free of most of the honey! The almost-empty frames are left out for the bees to clean.

The honey pours out from a spout into a sieved bucket.

In all, a bit over five gallons of honey was collected, and a large amount of gorgeous beeswax.
Five gallons=about 60 pounds of honey!

To be continued…but until then, Viva Hive Urania!!


  1. Wow! This is awesome (in the true sense of the word).

  2. Very nice! I'm just robbing my bees! I've taken off four frames = 1 gallon. Same color as your honey! Mine is fireweed and clover, just a lovely little blog you have. I came over from Bee House Hives to take a peek! We're still too early for a full harvest, but it's been a wonderful year.

  3. Deb, thanks so much! I'm forever in awe of these girls. :)

  4. Joanne, very nice to meet you! Can't wait to read your blog - I'm curious to know what beekeeping is like in Alaska!

  5. What an awesome post complete with step by step photos. Love it! I'm jealous of your number of honey supers, and I think you said it was a first year for the bees? WOW. The honey looks delicious.

  6. Hi Barbara! Yes, it was a real surprise, as we are new to beekeeping. We were prepared to 'expect' honey next year, not several months after installing the hives ;) It is a beautiful clear honey, sweet and smooth. Beautiful work by these girls. :)