Wednesday, July 11, 2012

June Meeting - Harvesting, Extracting and Packaging

What a great June meeting we had!  There were 25 members in attendance.  The program was present by Jim Gentry on Harvesting, Extracting and Packaging honey.

When it comes to harvesting your honey use very little cool smoke.  If you have frames for cut comb make sure you mark them so you do not accidentally uncap your cut comb frames. When it comes to removing the bees a fume board makes quick work of clearing out entire supers.  A bee brush works nice if you only have a few frames to remove. Careful not to roll the bees.  Make sure you cover your supers after they are removed to prevent robbing.

Have your honey house (aka wife's kitchen) ready to start extracting.  Make sure your area has low humidity and good air movement.  Use a good sharp knife, uncapping pick, or electric knife (careful not to scorch the honey) to uncap your frames.  Save your cappings for the wax melter.  There are several different ways to remove the honey from comb.  The press method is the most labor intensive and destroys your drawn comb.  The drip method can be used if you don't have a large harvest.  Place the frame in container to catch the honey and place in your oven with the light on.  Do NOT turn your oven on your you will have a mess!  The light will warm your oven enough to help your honey drip.  Finally the most popular method is to use an extractor.  These come in may sizes and price points but all do the same thing of slinging the honey out.  Place your frames in your extractor and sling about 1/4 of the honey out of one side.  Reverse your frames to  empty the other side.  Then one more reverse to finish the first side.  If you have a radial extractor you will not have to reverse your frames.

Watch your honey in the bottom of the extractor to make sure it does not get to high and reach the bottom of your basket.  As you start to empty the honey from your extractor, run your honey through several different sizes of nylon (or wire strainers) going from large to small to remove remaining cappings and bee parts.   Have a 5 gallon food grade bucket under you strainers.  Let your honey sit a few days so air bubbles will rise to the top and give you a better package.

Time to bottle your honey.  Have clean jars ready for packaging. Warm honey is easier to pour and there are a few ways to accomplish this.  Sit your bucket outside with the lid on and let it warm up a few hours. (Watch for ants.) There are also bucket heaters that go around a 5 gal buckets to radiate heat.  If you want to go big time there are honey holding tanks that are heated.  When you open the gate to pour your honey, hold your jar at an angle so you do not create air bubbles. Fill the jar so you will not see any light at the top with the lid on.  Label your honey and you are ready to sell!

Just a word on cut comb.  Measure the jar with a stick and cut the comb with a sharp knife.  This way the comb will be a nice fit.  Put a little honey in the bottom of the jar before placing comb in jar.  This keeps from damaging the bottom of the comb.  Place the comb where your label does not cover the side of the beautiful cut comb.

How do you sell your honey?  Well, first you start by giving some away.  Give some to your neighbors and those that helped you with your bees.  These people will tell others you have great local honey to sell.Have some business cards to hand out.  The Cherokee Beekeepers Association has free business cards for members if you need some.  Take your honey to farmers markets, have samples of honey,  have pictures of your beekeeping activites and keep honey in your car to sell.  Make sure labels have all the required information.
Enjoy sharing  beekeeping with others!!!

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