BEE-SY DAY

Did you know? – Collectively, bees fly 24,000 miles and visit three to nine million flowers to make one pound of honey

Today was honey extraction time!!!!

But first it was time for the beekeepers to check the well “beeing” of the hives.  They are well and the good news is that we have a new queen!  So one feral hive (that we captured over 2 years ago) has become two!  They tell me the new queen is a beauty just like her momma.

Beekeeper D took out some capped 3/4″ frames.  Then Justin and Jordanne took over uncapping and the honey extraction.

The honey was absolutely gorgeous – not your typical honey color.  This honey batch was extra thick and “white” with a slight taste of citrus with a hint of lavender.   We extracted 16 lbs of raw, unfiltered, unheated, and very thick honey (give or take a few pounds because we licked and ate a whole bunch while working).   When the sun comes out we’ll see if we can’t solar extract the rest left in the combs – should be a few more ounces.

How sweet it is….

Seeing that almost white honey brought back memories of my childhood among the orange groves of central Florida (which are sadly no more).  One story was the when Beekeeper D was selling some of his honey, a customer accused him of selling corn syrup it was so light colored.  Bet he was just cranky or jealous!

I remember as child going to our local county fair and showing off our honey.  Beekeeper D would bring along our observation hive and folks would crowd around our booth tasting and watching the bees while Beekeeper D would give people advice on starting their own hives.

Back to the present…

Each season and honey flow is different and that’s what makes keeping bees ever the more exciting.  Not only are you providing your plants with beneficial pollinators, every time you open the box, the bees surprise you with a delightful bounty of nature’s nectar.

Now of course before you go jumping on the beekeeping bandwagon.  Like I’ve said before nothing is worse than a fad that leaves sick, diseased, abandoned or neglected animals in it’s wake.  Beekeeping is serious business since you are dealing with live animals.  When it comes to keeping animals, insects one takes on ALL the responsibilities year after year after year through sickness, health and oopsies.  Basically when you get bees you “marry ’em”  Well, the good thing is they don’t talk back.  The bad thing is they don’t care what you tell them, but the responsibilities are similar.  In animal and apiary husbandry you are the keeper, steward and the animal’s health, well being is entirely in your hands and that’s a huge, daily responsibility.  Of course the know how is good but the question before you jump in is: are you prepared to put in a lot of time and energy.  You don’t just want to “HAVE” bees, chickens, goats just to say “I have such and such”  It’s all about the “KEEPING” part.

Not to mention you’ll need clean space – room for storing equipment and processing the honey.  For us that’s a challenge as it is with so many projects/operations going on in such a little space.

There’s a lot to know and learn about bees – the intricacies of a colony/hive,  all the different diseases  (foul brood, chalkbrood, stone brood and verroa mite), not to mention dealing with swarms and you really can’t stop them from procreating and fraternizing with (may not so friendly or diseased) neighboring bees.    They are living animals, er insects and although they go about their business unhindered they do need constant and continued care and attention.  You can’t just get a hive and forget about it or you will really have a mess on your hands. In his 35 years of beekeeping, Beekeeper D has burned his fair share of diseased hives and believe me it’s not pretty when a disease overtakes your hive.

So when we see a that our hives in good condition we say a grateful little prayer that all is well in beedom.

We are considering selling bee supplies on Peddler’s Wagon but like to know if there’s any interest first. Let us know.

Taking out the frames of honey

Heavy combs filled with warm, white honey

Out come more honey filled frames

With a hot knife it was time to uncap those frames

Scraping and cutting reveals beautiful, almost white honey

Jordanne wields the hot knife and helps out

What a sweet sight – yum!

In go the frames into the extractor

I help Justin pour the honey from the extractor into the glass jars

Out comes the honey!

Bee-utiful! (Just a few of the jars)

Comments(12)

  1. 1916home.net says:

    Great photos and story too 🙂 When I was in Russia my wife (then fiancée) gave me some honey and it was white like this and I thought it was strange. Because I’m used to this filtered, clear stuff here in America that has been pasteurized, pulverized, homogenized, etc. But her honey came from a neighbor who does what you do. In Russia it is called “Med” (pronounced mead).

  2. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife says:

    I am very interested in adding bees to our mini homestead next year. But true to my handle, I can’t see spending many hundreds of dollars to do it. I would especially love detailed how-to posts on any beekeeping equipment you’ve built yourself, or hacked in some way. I think I have the necessary discipline and the attentiveness, and we’ve got plenty of stuff for them to pollinate. But we’d have to get set up for bees on a limited budget, or not at all.

  3. James says:

    Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife – consider top bar hives. If I remember correctly (I admit I’ve been reading for over 2 years here!) Beekeeper D started with a top bar hive, and moved his bees later on.

    I have 2 Kenyan Top Bar Hives in my back yard. You can find plans for them on the net, and really they are not difficult to build. In fact, very easy!

    Anyway, the greatest expense is the smoker and veil. You don’t need extractors or other stuff if you use the crush method. You can read about that on the net also.

    Oh, and I used to be afraid of the bees, until I learned so much more about them.

    Good luck!

  4. Stacy says:

    Again, I curse my region’s prohibitions on keeping apiaries.

  5. Michelle says:

    Thank you for saying this…

    “”Like I’ve said before nothing is worse than a fad that leaves sick, diseased, abandoned or neglected animals in it’s wake””

    This is something I considered long and hard when considering getting chickens to raise in my backyard in the middle of town. I researched for about a year and a half before really getting serious about chicken keeping. And I’m glad that I did. I learned a LOT. And now that we have chickens in the backyard coop…happy, healthy, spoiled chickens…it was worth all of the learning. I just hope that everyone who considers getting chickens…or anything else living for that matter…does their homework first. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Aspen says:

    I am definitely interested in beekeeping supplies! I am planning to have bees next year. The thought of all that sweet, sweet honey—mmmmm!

  7. Cena says:

    Yes on the bee keeping supplies. Last year our renters (in town) called because of a swarm in the mulberry tree in the backyard. My husband looked on the internet, then fearlessly caught the swarm in a 5 gallon bucket. We brought it home and made a half hearted attempt to make a home for them. They stuck around for a couple of weeks. We then contemplated investing in proper supplies and a hive (or building one.) Before we parted with the money, the colony left for better digs. At least they didn’t all die, they definitely took off. So, it would be nice to get set up for the future. Or know where to get supplies quickly (your fast service is wonderful.)

  8. rainbird says:

    I am a hobbyist beekeeper. Currently, I buy most of my supplies from Brushy Mountain. Price is important to me, but I like to help support the Dervaes family efforts. If the Peddlers Wagon carried beekeeping supplies at a price that was at least close to what I see from other commercial suppliers, I would definitely shop there, and give your products some preferential consideration.

  9. Susan says:

    Great post! Wow, citrus-lavender flavored honey sounds scrumptious. I go to the farmer’s market in Cerritos and a month or two ago the honey seller there had avocado honey. He said it’s seasonal and he only gets a little bit. I didn’t have the money for it at the time but I’ve been thinking about it since then. Next year I’ll have to buy some.

    Long live the new queen! =)

  10. Sue says:

    Wow, loved that post – how does the honey extractor work? Do you hand crank it?

  11. Janice says:

    Just curious. What happens to all the honeycomb?

  12. JaneyP says:

    I’m loving all the beekeeping info. Thanks for the great info & pics. I’m curious about the extraction because it looks as though y’all are outside doing the uncapping & extracting & bottling. We learned in our recent bee school that you can set off a “feeding frenzy” with the bees if they can access the supers after they are removed from the hives and/or the honey while it is being extracted. Just curious if you had any problems, as I didn’t see any bees in the photos.

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