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Friday, September 3, 2010

Lesson #12: 10 lbs of Honey Sounds Like a Lot, But Doesn't Look Like a Lot

First, I am a horrible blogger. I have plenty to talk about but never can seem to make myself sit down and talk about it. I haven't updated in quite a while. There was plenty going on but I just didn't force myself to write. Sorry guys.

We harvested our honey about two weeks ago. The spring was so wet and the summer was so dry that we decided the only honey the bees could spare was about ten pounds. Oh, it seems like a lot but trust me, after over a grand spent and countless hours of toiling and monitoring, ten pounds of honey is hardly any honey at all. I expected 100 pounds. Greg expected none. I guess I should be happy with ten. The Beekeeper down the road from my parents got a whopping one thousand pounds (yes I said one thousand) from 10 hives. So does that mean that next year our two well established hives will make us 200 pounds of honey. I really freaking hope so.

Last weekend I went to a workshop called Women in the Outdoors. I managed to sneak in on the tail end of a beekeeping 101 session and talked to the teacher. He said ten pounds is something a first-year beekeeper should be proud of and that as long as the bees stored enough honey for themselves we did "damn good". Hearing him say that made me fell SO much better. I asked him how a newbee could spot the queen bee among thousands of workers. He had a observation frame in plexiglass with about 300 bees in it including the queen. "Well" he said "You look for the painted dot on her back" "Well" I said "What if you didn't get a marked Queen?" He laughed and said in a round about way that it was impossible. He also demonstrated how to mark your queen bee when you get her. I tried to listen to him but all I could think of was how proud I was of our "damn good" beekeeping efforts this year.

So as far as the honey harvest goes, we made it pretty simple for ourselves. We chose not to buy a 300 dollar honey extractor which spins the honey out of the combs and frames. We decided to just scrape the comb, honey and all right into a bucket and strain it out later using stainers made specifically for honey.

After it strained we jarred it. As you can see above, 10 lbs seems like a lot but really its not. We filled 8.5 jelly jars. One jar went to my parents as a thank you for putting up with thousands of buzzing, stinging bees living on their property. One jar of honey and comb went to my grandpa. He loves comb honey. I have one jar that is down to half already in my cupboard and greg has the the moment. I think it will be difficult to ration it out all winter long. Its good stuff and hard not to eat by the spoonful right out of the jar. As you can see in the picture above, Greg did not allow any to go to waste!

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