I got 6 frames of honey from a friendly beekeeper who has a few boxes left over from last season. My bees are not ready for harvest, even if this were the right time of year. They will have the greatest need for whatever they stored last fall in a few months. In early spring, they start building population in earnest for foraging.
I don’t have an extractor, and there have been some warm days here, so I thought I’d give the good old fashioned crush and strain method a try. It’s a mess of honey and light and dark wax, as some of the frames had the darker brood comb in them.
Foragers from my hive, working on cleaning up the leftovers.
The straining is done with several layers of cheese cloth around an aluminum mesh at the bottom of the upper bucket. This only lets the honey drip through, leaving the wax and other solids behind. Later, I’ll put that blob into the solar wax melter to extract the bees wax.
Even though the drip from the strainer looks clean, none of this is really intended for jar honey. Most if not all of it is destined for mead making. Well, 60 degrees isn’t really quite warm enough, or I’m not getting enough sun to warm things up. So the twin bucket rig gets to sit next to the wood stove for a while. That seems to be working, if very slowly.
There was about 30 pounds total from the 6 frames, and 6 pounds of solids were trapped in the filter, maybe half of that will be clean wax. The 24 pounds of honey should be enough for a 5 gallon batch of dry mead and another 3 gallon batch of sweet. More on bees and mead making in later posts.