Harvesting honey from hives

Harvesting Honey

In the beginning of the homegrown season we showed you how to start a bee hive from the very beginning by installing the bees. Now, it's time to gather the honey from all the bees' work. This harvesting season is particularly dry which has been hard on the bees and the honey production. Roger Ardis, with the Northwest Georgia Beekeepers Association has a bit of honey left on a few hives, so he can showed us the entire process.

"This is probably 40 pounds of honey right here," said Roger Ardis, our expert beekeeper from the Northwest Georgia Beekeeper's Association.

Ardis already took the supers, which are the boxes, off the hive. Inside this particular super, there are nine frames dripping with sweet honey. Ardis explained the first step is to take off the capings on the frame.

"The bees make this wax [to cap off the cells]. This seals the honey when it is at a perfect moisture content. The bees control the moisture in the hives by flapping their wings. They cool it and heat it up," said Ardis.

Once we finished un-capping four frames, we placed them in the extractor or slinger.

"Around here they call it a slanger. A slanger is slang for 'sling.' We slowly crank the crank. If you listen closely you will hear the honey being slung out - hitting the side of the extractor," said Ardis.

Ardis opened the valve on the bottom of the extractor and let the honey run through two sets of strainers into the five gallon bucket. The strainers filtered out the wax left in the honey. Typically Ardis would let the honey sit for a day before bottling the honey, to let the air-bubbles rise to the top. He would then scrape off the bubbles resulting in a crystal clear liquid.

"People at times tell me, 'oh wow that's great honey.' Well, I didn't really have anything to do with it," said Ardis.

The forager bees passed off the nectar to the ones that stay in the hive. Ardis explained it takes many trips just to get one teaspoon of honey.

"They only live about six weeks and they literally work themselves to death. They will wear their wings out going back and forth back and forth back and forth," said Ardis.

A super with 10 frames in it can yield about 30-35 pounds of honey. Typically people sell honey by the pound; a quart jar holds three pounds and a pint jar holds one and a half.

"It's really satisfying. I like to think about how much work has gone into this," said Ardis.

Ardis wanted to leave everyone with a lasting message: if you see a bee, just let it be.

"Don't step on it, it's got a mission. It's doing what it's supposed to do," said Ardis.

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