Working Father’s Perspective: Early Honey Harvest

Unfortunately, one of my bee hives did not quite make it a whole year. When I checked on it in April everything seemed to be okay, but in May I noticed the number of worker bees was not increasing and was actually decreasing. When I inspected the hive in mid-May it was apparent that the queen had died and there were no eggs, larva, or capped cells. The remaining bees were out gathering nectar and pollen so they were putting up a little honey but the colony was doomed to extinction.

I continued to monitor the dying hive and figured I’d collect any honey once the bees died off. There were still several hundred bees left when I noticed the presence of wax moth larva in some of the comb. At that point I decided to collect what honey there was and process it along with any of the comb for wax. I pulled the top box off the hive, placed it in the freezer for 48 hours (to kill the wax moth larva) and then processed the honey and comb by hand.

Since I have only Warre (top-bar) hives I use the “crush and strain” method to collect the honey. This consists of cutting out the honey filled comb, placing it in a container (in this case a mason jar), cutting/crushing the comb to free the honey, then letting it flow through a sieve/strainer (in this case a layer of cheese cloth) into another container to get the “cleaned” honey. The work is not difficult although it makes a sticky mess.

After about 24 hours I collected approximately 16 ounces of honey. I also melted some of the old comb in an old coffee can partially filled with boiling water and filtered it through cheesecloth to get a small amount of golden yellow beeswax. I still have more comb to process so I’m looking forward to more wax.

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