As first year bee keepers, we were pretty excited to harvest our first batch of honey. We were not counting on getting much, if any in the first year. Our busy bees on the other hand had higher hopes. They surprised us with almost 20 pounds of liquid gold!
Our hive consists of basically 3 boxes stacked on top of each other. All of them contain 9 frames that the bees make wax comb into and fill with honey, and/or brood or larvae. The bottom 2 boxes we leave alone so the colony will grow and they will have some honey to eat through the winter. The top shallow box, or "honey super", contains just comb and honey, and is all for us.
First we had to spray a "fume board" with a smelly liquid that the bees hate. This drives the bees out of the honey super so we could take it off and collect the honey. 6 of the 9 frames were filled with honey. Not bad for the first year. We loaded the honey filled frames in the car and drove to New England Beekeeping Supplies in Tyngsboro, MA. They were super helpful and have all the equipment for extracting the honey from the combs available for rent.
Using a hot knife, the wax caps were sliced off. We saved all the cappings to make some beeswax products later. The frames were then places in the extractor, a large stainless steel cylinder with a motor and a spout at the bottom. As the frames spin faster and faster inside the extractor, the centrifugal force pulls all the honey out of the combs and eventually comes out of the spout below. The fresh honey was strained and filled our bottling bucket.
After we got home and made some whisky drinks with mint and fresh honey, we started bottling. We ended up with 32, 6 oz. jars. The taste is delicious! Much better than anything store bought. It was so exciting to see the whole process from start to finish and be able to enjoy something fresh and natural.