harvesting honey

it was strawberries & honey day around denmark today. the national beekeepers' association sponsors the day early every summer - to take advantage of the beautiful seasonal strawberries and the first honey harvest of the year. we went to our bee school to see how it was all done. we'll be "slinging" (i cannot find what it's called in english (centrifuging? spinning?) and i even searched an entire online bee dictionary) our own honey early next week, together with our mentor.

how most of our bee "lessons" function - here, one of the experienced guys explains to one of the other newcomers how to check whether the frame is ready and going to be easy to "sling" or not.

when the bees are finished making the honey, they seal it in. you have to scrape that off with a special tool before putting the frame into the centrifuge, otherwise, no honey will come out.

the front frame has had the sealing wax scraped off, but the ones behind it have been emptied of their honey. they will be placed back in with their bee families, and the bees will fill them up again by about august or so. after that second harvest, the wax will be melted off and repurposed and the frames cleaned and made ready for next year.

this is the hand centrifuge we used today. it holds three frames. after the first spin, you turn the frame around, so the other side is facing out, then you put it back and give it another spin, for a total of three spins.  the honey collects down in the bottom and you open the spout and let it pour into a clean bucket.

as the honey pours out here, you can see there are still bits of wax. you then put it through a large cloth strainer into another bucket (which i must not have photographed, because it was a rather boring big white bucket), from which you can then fill the containers with honey.

the honey is runny and golden and absolutely delicious (we ate it with heart-shaped waffles and fresh strawberries). and i can't wait to have our own.

one last shot of our bee mentor explaining to husband how to build a box for transporting the frames. it's ok to harvest the frames if they're about 2/3 full of honey, the bees don't have to be finished with them before you take them, since you're going to give them back. we also learned it's important to have a box where you can enclose the honey-laden frames, otherwise you'll have a whole lot of bees that want to come along for the ride.

that's the update for now, i'll tell you more next week after we harvest our own honey. as you can see, we enjoyed some fresh honey together with our dinner...we made pancakes with elderflower blossoms out on the grill table (using a pan, don't worry, we didn't try to grill pancakes). fresh honey, strawberries and elderflowers from the garden = summer bliss.


Jude said...

What an interesting procedure - quite a few steps but easy enough, eh! Nice to be part of a community too, I imagine!

Molly said...

We call it spinning - so much fun!

Anneli/Bockfilz said...

What a wonderful harvest! I can almost smell and taste those pancakes with honey and strawberries and elderflowers - lovely!

(If you're planning to make some strawberry jam, I can recommend putting a little branch of elderflowers into the glass jar before filling it up with the hot jam - it gives your strawberry jam a new delicious combination of taste!)