The first 9 jars of honey 2023

Honey Harvest 2023

We’ve been saving frames of capped honey in the freezer for two years now, waiting to have enough to merit all the work of running the extraction process. Yesterday I pulled three more deep frames of honey from the horizontal hive and decided it was time.

I had a total of around 25 frames of honey, and this morning we took down all the equipment, washed it thoroughly, and set up our extraction line.

Station one is decapping with a hot knife, the second is scratching open any cells that are still sealed, then comes loading the drippy, sweet frames into the extractor. After the honey is spun out, it runs through two filters and into a collection bucket with a honey gate on it. The extracted frames may either be cleaned by bees and reused in the hive next spring, or the honeycomb is broken out of the frames, drained of any last honey, and the wax is put through a cleaning and reclaiming process.

And of course there’s lots of back and forth, carrying sticky trays, bins, and frames out to the yard where the honey bees will do an initial cleaning. The honey house (aka our shed) gets hot, the big fan is blowing, and curious bees are drawn to the scent of honey in the air. It’s a sticky, wonderful sort of party, especially when we draw the very first jars of honey from the collection bucket.

Tomorrow or the next day will be soon enough to clean, dry, and store all the equipment, and begin the wax reclamation process. Oh, and I’ll need to get to the farm supply for more jars, of course; we only had nine Ball jars with lids in the house.

Seth and Kate pulling the first jars of honey 2023
Seth and Kate pulling the first jars of honey 2023

It was coincidence that our youngest son and his wife decided to visit us this weekend; we didn’t intend to put them to work, but we were sure glad of their help when they agreed to pitch in.

Seth has done the honey harvest before with us (he doesn’t remember the hand-crank extractor we used our first year being as onerous as Lance and I do), but it was new to Kate, and I’m pretty sure she took a turn at every single one of the jobs, even the messiest and most back-achey ones. (For example: she and I both spent a while on our knees breaking up wet, drippy comb into paint strainer bags, which Seth and Lance subsequently hung over 5-gallon buckets to drain overnight.)

The first 9 jars of honey 2023
The first 9 jars of honey 2023 (4 more gallons waiting!)

The jarred honey in the photo don’t look clear because the honey has just been extracted and strained, and as a result it has a lot of teeny-tiny air bubbles in it. Over time the air bubbles will make their way to the tops of the jars and look like a slight skimming of honey foam. It’s delicious!

All told we ended up with about four gallons of honey, enough to hold us—and our extended family members—over until the next honey harvest.

2 comments on “Honey Harvest 2023

  1. Virginia turnage

    Fantastic! Beautiful honey!

    • Lisa Creech Bledsoe

      It has a fairly high water content (most of the frames were stored in the freezer while waiting) and is already starting to crystallize, but I’m not worried. It’s still delicious and I’m grateful we have it!

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