The Honey Harvest: Summer 2013


I’ve been a bit delayed on posting about our rake from this summer. So here it is. This summer was a good summer to be a beekeeper.. for the most part. What a rainy season we’ve had, bouncing back from the terrible drought last year. While I took a significant amount of honey (23+ pounds), I could have had more if I did not have queen issues with both of my hives. At least this year the bees started with fully built comb in their frames from the work of the bees last year.


As I had mentioned, between my two hives I was able to take over 23 pounds. My friend Mike has the same amount of hives and was able to take almost three times that amount at 65 pounds. There are many factors and guesswork associated with why this might be. For one thing, location and available resources play a key role as to how much honey they forage. However, my hive and Mike’s hive are both on my roof right next to eachother. So that is not likely the difference maker. Sometimes it is just the productivity level of the bees from the genes they have received from their ancestors.  While Mike and I both got our bee packages and queens from the same place, I happened to receive faulty queens for both of my hives. So, at a key point in the season when the bees should have been out foraging for the vastly available nectar, my bees were busy requeening the hive.

In this process, they must remove the current queen, transfer one of her eggs to a queen cell, and rear the new queen. Once born, the virgin queen must take a successful mating flight, return to the hive and start laying eggs. After the gestation period of about 21 days, new foraging bees will begin to emerge. This whole process can take anywhere from 3-5 weeks. In the meantime, no new bees are being born and the population takes a dip. With less workers, there is less production – simple as that.


Regardless, it was still a lot of honey we took. If you recall, last years harvest was about 1/3 of this years and we only took the honey because the hive had died. This harvest translated into 32-8oz jars, 38-4oz jars, and 3-16oz jars (our personal stash). I plan to leave each hive with about 60-70 pounds of honey to eat over winter.


My 23 pounds of honey were made up of 10 or 11 full frames of capped honey. I did have 1 foundationless frame that I was able to make cut comb honey out from.


Here you see the results: two nice containers of 5″x5″ cut comb honey. Delicious.


Over at Mike’s garden, his hive was super productive this year. However, for some reason they were much more aggressive than any of our other hives. Again, due to genetics. And that’s right.. there is a guy crouching there in a t-shirt and shorts. He was actually trying to get stung by the bees as a therapeutic measure (apitherapy). He lucked out and got stung 3 times as we stole honey.


As we had taken many frames out of the hive, we left a lot of empty space. The bees filled this in with bees and wax.


Here you can see the wax that they’ve built just within 24 hours of the frames being absent. This is a good example of their productivity.


As we moved honey frames around we accidentally burst some comb, spilling honey. No worries, the bees flew in to clean up after us. Nothing will be wasted.


Here Mike and I examine a frame we’ve uncapped, discussing how viscous the honey is this year.


And there’s the pure honey coming out of the extractor. There are bits of wax, bee parts, and pollen that will be filtered out.


Then finally onto the jarring. We washed all jars in the dishwasher in scolding hot water. Even if there was bacteria in the jars, honey is naturally anti-bacterial and would not allow the bacteria to spread.


Nothing beats honey like this- fresh, golden, delicious, raw.


Here is one of our 8oz jars.


Thanks for reading. Hopefully you were lucky enough to pick up a jar of our honey before we sold out in 3 days!






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