Daily Archives: August 13, 2012

Stolen Sweetness – Taking honey from the hive

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I don’t know what got into me last week, but one day I opened up the cover of the hive to see if one of my colonies had touched the new super I put on it two weeks ago. When I saw a framed of capped honey I got the wild idea to pull a couple of frames for harvest. Walking out to the hives with my boys I usually am excited to see what’s going on, but the idea that I was going to pull frames gave me butterflies. So much so that when I opened the hive and pulled the first frame of honey (which is so much heavier that a brood frame), I dropped it! In case you were wondering how to anger a large pack of bees, that’s exactly how to do it. I got stung through my pants, just once, but I deserved it.

I was able to pull two other frames out without harm to myself or my bees. With the help of my very helpful (and well suited up) five year old and a big feather as a bee brush, we got those two frames in a trash bag, bee free, and into the kitchen. Now came the problem of what to do with the frames. Ideally I’ve learned you only want to cut off the cappings so that you can return the empty comb back to you hive. But to get the honey out that way you need an extractor, which I didn’t have so I cut all the comb off, down to the foundation, using a small serrated knife.
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I held this over a sieve fit into a mixing bowl.
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I was really curious as to how much honey I would get from one frame. Typically I’ve seen honey yields listed in pounds, but being a visual person that never held much value for me. Well now I know that one medium super frame of honey fits into a quart canning jar with just a little extra to save for tea & toast.
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We’ve been preserving vegetables and fruit for 10 years now, but the feeling of putting two full quart jars of honey into our pantry was immensely satisfying in a different way.

Now that I’ve gotten a taste, I’m curious to find if I can steal some more sweetness. To those beekeepers out there, how much honey do you recommend leaving a first year hive? Both of my hives now have about two full medium supers each and are still bringing it in. Should I leave it all to them or will leaving them with one full box be enough?

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