Sunday, April 13, 2014

Processing Honey

This is where it all comes from, collected in February, about 16 frames of honey taken.
The honey and comb were clipped out of the frames and dropped into the buckets.  Important note: be sure to have lids on the buckets or you will collect too many bees along with your honey.  I usually leave the lid on for a day or so and then it is easier to remove the bees that are still left in.  Later I move the comb a piece at a time to another bucket so I remove any bees.
Next job is crushing the comb.  I use a scrapper made for removing tar paper but anything with an edge will do. A good supply of rubber or throw away gloves is handy too.  You will get honey on everything.  If you have an ant problem, draw a circle around your crush area using Comet or other cleanser powder, diatameceous earth or kids sidewalk chalk.  Ants do not like to cross those barriers,  there are sharp edges on the tiny bits that bothers ant feet.

This is my filter system. The top filter has a double screen of two sizes.  I got it from Brushy Mountain Bee Supply.  I picked up the top bucket at a swap meet.  The bottom bucket came from LA Honey has the honey gate on it.   Both of them are food grade buckets, the orange ones are not, just generic buckets from Home Depot. 
The crushed comb and honey is poured into the double strainer.  It takes a number of pours to process all the comb.   In time there will be a lot of small comb bits blocking the honey flow in the bottom wire strainer, moving that around with a rubber spatula makes the honey pass on.  Below the metal strainer you can see the bottom of the top bucket has a number of holes to allow the honey to pass through.  The lid on the bottom bucket has most of the material removed except the outer edge so the top bucket can rest on it.  Draining the honey is a long process but easier if the weather is warmer.  When the top strainer is has all the honey drained off, I put it into another bucket with a cloth paint strainer clipped to the top.  Over the long term more honey will drain out and gets added to the white bucket.   This is not only to get all the honey possible but the comb is easier to deal with the comb later for wax melting when most of the honey has been removed.
The start of the drip.  Be patient.  It will get there.
This is the collected honey,  the foam on the top occurs naturally as it drains into the bucket.  There is nothing wrong with the honey.  It is still good and not fermenting.

This is the best part, bottling the honey.  I do mine over the kitchen sink.  As I do it more often I get better about not have too many drips and filling the bottle properly.
The reward for all the hard work, 27 plus pounds of honey.
A new method to melt wax.   Get some heavy mesh or wire cloth.  Fit it over a roasting pan, add an inch or so of water to the pan.  Put paper towels over the mesh, add the comb and put in an over at 200 deg or so.   Do not do this at high temperatures.   Wax is very flammable and you can have a fire in your oven.  If you are melting wax on your stove top, use a double boiler.
So much for new methods.  As soon as I started to melt the wax in the oven, my stove died and the oven will not light.(new stove arriving next week.)  Moved the operation on to the BBQ as seen above.  Sounded like a good idea but the wax attracted too many bees and made a new problem.   I finished up doing it my old way using a crock pot with water and a paper towel over the top.  Now I can add a bit of metal cloth to hold the towels up.  Put the crock pot on high and leave it, check occasionally and add more wax until done.  This works just like the roasting pan/over approach but it takes longer.

I may collect a bit more honey in September but it will be only a couple frames if the bees seem to have plenty more stored.   My normal harvest occurs in March but with a mild Winter I got a good start this year.