An event we all looked forward to came around earlier this month. The beehives out at the garden told Mr. Chris Stevens (resident beekeeper and mentor) it was time to harvest honey when he opened up the hives to take a gander. Of our 4 hives there was enough honey to extract from 2 of their supers. So on September 7th garden volunteers, homegrown families, and myself gathered out at the Lutheran Camp up the hill from the garden to learn about harvesting honey and got a little sticky in the process.
We each took turns uncapping the cells of the frames using serrated knives and forks for the trickier cells. We saved the wax cell tops for Chris’s wife to use in creating candles and body products. The bees work so hard and make so much goodness we do not want to waste any of their creation. After the first 9 frames were ready it was time to use the extractor to spin the honey out of their frames and into our gathering bucket. Some of our families remember that last year we spun the extractor with a hand crank, but Chris had come up with a new and improved method. He hooked the extractor up to his power saw table engine. Do not worry as there were no blades on the saw. The engine powered the spinning of the extractor and about three of us needed to stand on the extractor’s base to make sure it stayed in place. While it spun and we hugged the machine, we could see the golden nectar flying out of their frames and down into the barrel. Everyone got excited when we then opened the pour spout at the bottom and watched as the raw honey dripped through the mesh sieve and into our bucket. At this point we each took a taste of the sweetness directly from the extractor.
At the end of the day we had one and a quarter full 5 gallon buckets of raw honey. After letting it settle for a couple of weeks, I bottled up and labelled a total of 37 pint jars! This is more than we have ever had from a harvest.
Yesterday was the grand reveal of the Sprouting Hope honey which we sold as a fundraiser at the Marion Regional Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Many people commented on the deep rich color of the fall honey. One customer could not even wait to get home to taste it and opened the lid to dip a finger in. I am pleased to say we almost sold out of our honey at that market, and the remaining few pints are already ‘claimed’ for the harvest day helpers. I am truly looking forward to continuing to watch over these hives and open them up next spring with our community to watch the bees at work. Let us hope they make it through the coming winter healthy and strong.