In Celebration of Honey

Uncapped honey.

Woohoo! Not only did we (not as narrowly as we had feared) escape a Romney presidency this week, we also are up to our eyeballs in honey.

Well, not quite our eyeballs. I took a break from my grad school preparation madness last weekend so that we could finally extract this year’s honey harvest. We borrowed the guild’s hand-cranked extractor and spent a sticky evening uncapping frames and running them through.

I am pleased to report that, although we do not use plastic foundation in our frames, we only seriously busted two frames. (We had heard that putting foundationless frames or those with wax foundation through an extractor often leads to the wax detaching from the wood frame.)

The end result is 53.25 lbs. of mind-blowingly delicious honey. As a seasoned veteran of two years (ha!), I would say that this year’s honey harvest is tastier than last year’s. Kelly doesn’t know what I’m talking about, but I swear that the honey we harvested last fall had a faint cat pee aftertaste. I don’t know what nectar causes this, but I’ve tasted it in other very local honeys as well.

For the most part, we extracted all the honey into one food-grade bucket, but we decided to hand-extract the honey from one of our host hives. This hive is located in the hills outside town. It produced a darker honey, and you can really taste the dry chaparral plants that grow in that area. We have a beekeeping acquaintance who had her honey tested to see what types of nectar it was made from. I would be fascinated to do this at some point with our honey.

Here are some highlights from the big event.

With jars and uncapping tub at the ready, we set out.

The guild’s extractor hopped around on its plywood base and squeaked loudly, but it did the job.

Kelly begins the uncapping process. Instead of using a heated knife, we used uncapping combs to remove the wax caps.

With the uncapped frames in the extractor, we are ready to crank.

We drained the extractor into a food-grade bucket topped with a filter. We use the most coarse filter, and find it helpful for getting chunks of wax out of the honey.

For the frame of “special” mountain honey, I used a spoon to scoop honey and wax off the wax foundation and into our homemade extractor from last year. The top bucket has holes drilled in it so that the honey (and a fair bit of wax) drains into the bottom bucket.

Here is the whole getup unassembled after washing. You can see the inner basket where the frames rested during extraction.

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