Sam Comfort harvesting honey

Keeping it Simple Beekeeping

Friends, if you ordered a new queen from me in 2016, Sam Comfort from Anarchy Apiaries is the guy who raised her.  I couldn’t be more pleased his queens. And with Sam…who is a delight.

If you don’t raise your own queens from local surviving stock, and if your bees overwinter some long, cold months, I suggest you get your queens from Sam. Or, if you’re near Cincinnati, contact me. :) I probably have a few of Sam’s queens on hand for you.

But it’s not hard to rear your own queens. You might screw it up initially, but think of what all you’ll learn. And it’s not the end of the world if you don’t immediately succeed…then again, you just might. What fun that would be, yes? And eventually, you will. :)

Nicola's first harvest from Hive Gobnait

Don’t Click on this Link Unless You Want to Salivate

Reader, it’s harvest time. And let me simply introduce you to two first harvests. I’ll let the images speak for themselves. No more from me about how wonderful this is. No word from me about toasted medallions of french bread spread with butter and warm, fresh, local honey. I don’t want you writhing in envy.

Nicola's first harvest from Hive Gobnait
Heidi and Anne and their first honey harvest

Of course, if you want this experience for yourself, call me. I’ll get you set up.

Amy's capped honey

Delirious in Honey, Honey, Honey, Honey

Amy's capped honey

Reader, as you may know, I spend a good deal of my time these days removing bees from houses. I usually schedule only one of these removals each week because it seems to take me a week to deal with all the attending ramifications:

  • return to the home at night or unbelievably early in the morning to remove the bees
  • invest some time in customer and community relations regarding a general uneasiness about all the bees still flying around (really, the site of these removals draws quite a crowd of neighbors)
  • vacuum the bees that clustered overnight at their old entry site
  • situate the bees in one of my beeyards,
  • clean EVERYTHING of honey
  • crush the honey-containing comb and filter the fresh, warm honey
  • clean EVERYTHING of honey
  • rinse the wax from which the honey dripped
  • render pure and glorious-smelling beeswax from all the comb we remove from the home…including the wax from which the honey dripped
  • clean EVERYTHING of honey
  • unpack my car
  • clean all the equipment of honey
  • haul all that stuff to the basement
  • clean my car of honey and bees
  • wash honey from all the clothes and bee suits
  • pack it all nicely honey-free for the next removal

All of this is to say that I’ve had less time these past weeks to enjoy my visits to my other beeyards. And here we are at the time of year when we harvest the spring honey.

I harvested some early capped frames from three beeyards…I sort of like doing this in stages as the summer progresses rather than doing it all at once. I invite you over to Amy’s blog to see some pictures of and to read about our first honey harvest.

I’ll tell you that I seldom suit all the way up, but when you rummage through a hive in order to rob it of its stores, the bees are not at all pleased.

 

Simplify

I’ve been doing a shitty job of keeping TwoHoneys updated. You’d think nothing is going on with the bees. But a lot is going on out there! And a lot is going on regarding my learning curve, Reader. It’s skyrocketing.

You know that we have one established hive; it’s the swarm hive we captured a year ago from my friend Chris and named Amazons. One other hive, a hive that originated from a package of bees we ordered, died over the winter.  This year, we installed two more packages of bees in their own hives, and those bees should do nothing but build comb and raise brood and store enough honey with which they’ll depend on to survive the winter. Those hives are named Tomboys and Girls of Summer.

The Ohio River Valley is in the thick of a honey flow, and I’ve installed three shallow supers on Amazons in which they are building beautiful comb and storing glorious-looking honey. This is the honey we’ll harvest and eat and give as gifts.

Harvesting honey, however, usually requires a honey extractor—which is an expensive piece of spinning equipment. And, as you know, I usually lean toward less equipment…I like to make and bake bread using only my hands and a cookie sheet. I’m leaning that way more and more with the bees.

So, I’ve been mulling over this extractor thing. Do I want to spend about $500 on a piece of equipment I will seldom use? Should I rent one? If I rent one, I’d have to plan when I want to extract honey, then I’ll have to drive a long way to get the extractor, and then I have to clean the thing and return it. I hate that idea. I could borrow an extractor from my friend Christy, but for some reason I hate to borrow stuff like that. And I’d still have to plan when I want to harvest, drive to get the extractor, clean it, return it, and think of some nice way to repay her, etc.

My parents are visiting us soon, and I know they are freaking excited to have some honey. And I want them to enjoy a little bit of it at the time of their visit without all the fuss of an extractor and without my having to spend a lot of time harvesting a big load of honey. It’s a bit too early to do a full-blown harvest. I want to take only a frame or two (or three or four) and get some honey from them and leave the rest alone. So, I’ve been reading and thinking.

Which brought me to a couple of quiet websites that briefly mention a honey-harvesting method called “crush and strain.” I thought, “WHAT?! I’m not about to crush all that honeycomb those bees have worked so damned hard to build because they’ll just have to do it all over again, and I’m not going to make them work their brains out for nothing.” Oh, Reader, I am sooo wrong about so many things. The more I learn, the more sense I get.

Thanks to this video over at Linda’s Bees, I have now decided to crush and strain all of our honey…some when the parents visit and the rest whenever the heck I’m ready.

No fancy, expensive, loud equipment for us. It doesn’t seem natural. I’m going rogue.