Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to Rob Your Bees of Their Honey

I must begin with a disappointment.  We lost one of our hives to moths…
"It happens to everyone," says our beekeeper mentor friend Mr. Dover, a local honey-selling, bee-keeping extraordinaire. He has over 70 hives on his property and he lost 30 this year to moths.  "Once they get in, there's no getting them out."  
We didn't even know we had moths until a few days ago when we went to rob the honey.  Last I checked, the hive was great…I spotted the queen, and our supers were FULL of honey!!  This was the one hive of our three that had 2 supers on it, both loaded with sweet honey.  Our other 2 hives only have one super. This was our strong hive as well!  I always was able to spot the queen, the bees were always plentiful, and there was always good larve production happening and the supers were well organized with honey production happening on all 9 racks.  Here are some pictures of what those nasty moths did to 18 months of hard work from this colony.

Well, at least our hens had a heyday eating all those moths and their larve!!
We were blessed to be able to rob the honey from one of our other hives!  This was quite the first time experience, as everything has been with farming!  We opened the hive and smoked the bees to calm them down.  I removed the   entire super box and took it with me to the barn.  There were still some bees on it, but as I took each rack out I gave it a good bang on the side of the barn…that got rid of the bees! We recieved council from our friend, Mr. Dover, and he taught us how to build our own honey strainer for less than $30!  No need to buy expensive extractors!  Very simple method:
2 five gallon buckets
 -one with a spicket put on the bottom and the top lid inner part cut out
 -one with 1/8th inch holes drilled all over the bottom
Method: put the bucket with all the holes drilled on the bottom on top of the other bucket and let it rest in the top that was cut out.  Into the top bucket cut out the honey from the supers.  Ben has taken an interest in the bees so he helped me with this.  These perfectly cut pieces of wax and honey we saved to put in our jars.  See all the white caps?  That's how you know the honey is ready to be taken!

Next, break all the caps.  Again, no need for expensive equipment…just a cheap pair of gloves and some good old fashioned squeezing!
 Put the top on the bucket and let it sit for 2-3 days to strain out of the wax.  See the comb we kept in the jars?  Yum!
 After a few days, fill your jars!  We robbed 9 frames from one hive and ended up with 2 gallons!!  Very thankful for every last drop of it!  The wax remaining in the top bucket is going to be placed in a homemade glasstop box where the sun will melt it and all the impurities will be strained out. 
This is considered raw organic honey because we did not heat it to purify it.  We didn't even filter it!  The more wax bits and pollen the better!…more health benefits with all that!    A bit of wisdom we have learned…honey cannot be labeled non-GMO because there is no way to guarantee the bees have not taken from GMO seeds.  Bees have been recorded to travel up to 90 miles to get pollen!  Their normal range to travel is 3-5 miles, but they will do whatever is necessary to survive!  If you are in need of supplies to make this contraption visit www.brushymountainbeefarm.com

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