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Archive for the ‘honey harvesting’ Category

Four years ago I got my first beehive. My brother Eric got a hive also the next spring and we were off on our backyard beekeeping adventure. We try to keep two hives going in each of our backyards. Since we just have a few hives, we just use the crush and strain method of extracting our honey from our honey frames. Here is a previous post about this method. This is the first time Eric has had a chance to actually participate, so this is a little picture post about Pooh’s honey harvesting adventure tonight!

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This was some of the honey from our 2009 harvest. Good thing we had a good harvest that year as this one was not near as bountiful. I have found that the honey keeps just fine in the comb until it is needed. Since we keep our honey raw, and unheated, it has a tendency to crystallize  a bit fast, so we only remove it from the comb when we run out:) Now to make some garlic honey and some sage honey:) And other yummy herbal medicines besides just as part of our diet:)

Big hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages

 

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thought it might be fun to film the bees enjoying their tribute today. many people say not to do this as it can encite robbing and fighting amongst the bees. i hope this video shows that this is not the case with my bees. they have a riotous, joyful time and the house bees waiting for them in the hive are just vibrating when they receive the honey from the forager bees! i can not only sense through seeing their behaviors, my own being vibrates and glows right along with them! i realize that laying out these combs like this invites other creatures big and small and would not be able to safely do this in a more rural setting. as it is, i put up the frames at dark and re-give them during the daylight hours. i have done this for several years without mishap. something you would have to decide for yourself if you chose to feedback honey the way i do it. i let them be like the bear and glut their fill before winter and then offer it to them this way again in the spring, to help strengthen them. i consider it a gentle, organic way to feed my bees.  enjoy, they and i most certainly did!

 

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Today is simply a gorgeous day! The sun is strong, the winds mild and just a sprinkle of rain once in awhile. I did go out this morning and say hello to the world. Patted our maples, noted a darling pine sapling that must be relocated next summer. She is two now and strong enough to handle the move well. Also noted the things i can get a last harvest of and jotted down the things that would need divided and shared with others. I have to get back outside before tomorrow and “weed out” (not a phrase i am found of), a few more of our prolific violet friend. A couple of years ago i went around and transplanted violets all around our little pond and she loves it there! She keeps popping up anew and i might actually get a few more leaves of new growth to save and use. She reminded me of herself today while i was organizing the cabinets. There she was time and time again. In jellies in the food pantry, and in the medicinal cabinet as well. Not to mention she has been replicated through art in many of my everyday usage items like teacups etc. I wandered to the back of comfrey cottages gardens to say hello to the bees and to bring them a gift. I had a hive not make it last winter and i am certain it was due to them getting too wet in the fall,and not disease. i had saved back all their brood box frames that had honey in them. A good idea to always save back such honey as a rule, in case your bees need the honey fed back to them. I fed them back two of these frames today just for fun really. Oh, it will used by them, for certain, but i had fed them back the honey super that was just full of mostly uncapped nectar over the course of this last week, so i really don’t think they are light on winter foods. I did it just to share the joy of sunlight with them and to pay homage to them. I love my beautiful sunshine bees. They are in for another treat soon as i strained off some lemon balm honey and i have a plate of the strained balm and i am going to go out and share that with them when i am through with this post!

So, i suppose i should have been outside more today but i chose to open the windows wide and pull aside all the curtains and straighten my various cabinets before i got to work on a few things that needed done.

This is the cabinet i store mainly the dry herbs, roots etc.

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and in the bottom of it i store the kitchen appliances and tools like the sprouted. all the dried beans, grains, flours etc plus the seeds for sprouts

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this cabinet is mainly for the herbs and things i use for culinary reasons, foods as medicine reasons, smudging, and glycerites, vinegars, etc etc you get the idea

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that is my beekeeper suit hanging on the door there. plus lily’s little blue apron:)

to the left on the cat ledge, violet joy supervised. the milk jugs on the floor are kept refilled and the lid left off of them so the chlorine can evaporate. cats are healthier with dechlorinated water. we almost lost of kitty earl of eight a couple of times before i discovered that trick! now he is thriving and healthy.

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and the yellow cabinet. this has all the jars full of herbal oils and tinctures waiting to be used and to be stores in some of the containers you see. this cabinet has alot of containers and also where i keep the seeds i have collected for next year. i found this cool metal cabinet for a real deal at 10 dollars. the downside was the paint the peeps had on it just smelled foul, so hubby and i stripped it and he repainted it one of my favorite colors:)

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and david gould, my friend, if you will note the bag hanging to the left of the screen, it is the wonderful bakery bag you gave me last christmas. big hugs to you and liz:)

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now that i have taken the time to sort out from the helter skelter of summer, and organize, i can work more efficiently and know what just i do and don’t have on hand.  the whole experience was just grand with the sun shining through the windows, the breeze gently carrying the scent of the outdoors and our pine, and the whole aromatherapy experience of being immersed in dozens of herbal and spice smells at once… well i was just giddy i swear!

this is a picture of the lemon balm honey and the hops and honey straining.  i feel so empowered making lovely, healthy things for myself and my family and close friends. i am certain this hops infused honey will be a great treat and benefit for someone this winter with bronchitis. and the lemon balm will be a special joy on some wintery day when someone is feeling a bit blue or non vibrant. i am thinking it will be a great benefit to one who is in the process of recovering their strength from illness also.

the next cabinet has my microwave on top of it, but the drawers and cabinet is used for mainly my canning things. I am a bit ocd in always sterilizing every container, even when they are not going to be used specifically for canning foods.

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this taking time to organize and take stock has really helped me already, while in the process of doing it. i managed to strain off some honeys, catch an awesome herbal buzz through all my senses and feel some satisfaction with my learning process this year, as many of the herbs in the herbal cabinet and on the seed shelf are the results of my own gardening or wild harvesting this year. i love my wild harvest friends val and katee:)

my lovely val shared some pears with me last sunday. I have been eating a few but they were going soft quickly so decided to make a nice pear jelly which i infused with star anise, cinnamon, and tarragon. very nice! did the trick of replacing some of the juice and sugar in the recipe with honey again and really love the results:)

well i am off to check on the bees and offer them the strained lemon balm:) i have a friend stopping by at 6 to get some of my feverfew to try for her headaches. I am going to offer her a healing touch session as the same time so i must go rest up a bit too!

herbal and honey blessings and hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages. and please do share your pics of where you store your things sometime! i love to have visuals when i am sending blessings to you all:)

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So it has been nearly a month since I havested honey and bottled some up. Due to all the family things, printer problems, problems finding proper paper here in our little town, etc. etc. I Have just today been able to properly work on the labels. What do you think?

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I would have liked to put raw and organic on my label, but since the harvest is just going to be used by family and friends, I thought this was busy enough! If I were ever going to sell honey though, I would have to explore the laws on adding those two descriptive labels to see if I could qualify to use them. I don’t see why not as the honey is raw and organic, but who knows, and anyway, not an issue right now anyway!lol

So Lisa, aka Hootie, my dear sweet patient friend, the next stop is the post office to send you a properly labeled bottle as your prize in my blog giveaway last month! Sorry to be late dear! I am so very excited about this label! I just love the pic of the sweet bee and the comfrey flower! I am so excited in fact, that if any of you would like to leave a comment , I want to pick another name to give another bottle to!  Drawing Friday!

Thanks to all of you who have shown me such support and well wishes through all this! Big herbal and sticky honey hugs to you all!

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whoo whoo! starting the honey harvest! below is a picture of a capped honey frame taken from one of the yellow hives honey supers(the box which holds 10 frames for the bees to build wax on and store nectar in). isn’t it a gorgeous white?!

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now i am harvesting using the crush and strain method. first i remove a frame of capped honey (the bees flap their little wings and evaporate some of the moisture from the nectar and when the moisture level is right, they seal each cell with wax, thus the name, capped honey). i am using a glass dish with a silicon flexible mat in it. first i cut off the honey comb from the frame

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then i use a pestle to crush the wax and honey.

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i then pick up the silicon mat and let it all ooze into my new bucket with a strainer in it. this bucket also has a gate at the bottom for using when time to bottle the honey that has filtered through the screen.

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these following pics are close ups of the bucket and the screen

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when i am thinking i am close to capacity i will put the bucket in the sun with a lid on it with a brick on the lid!

very excited as this is the first year i am going out on my own from the normal way of beekeeping in my area. i did no supplemental sugar feedings and went to foundationless frames, and of course, no chemical intervention or brood building patties etc, so… i can now say my beekeeping methods are organic! the bees did a beautiful job of creating their own wax and the honey is light and delicious! i will keep you posted on how much i actually get harvested and bottled. thinking to make some herbal infused honey with some of it.

the harvested wax will be put to good use in herbal salves, which i will tell you about when the time comes. good fall/winter time activity.

when i have cut the comb off the frames i am just leaning them into another pan to finish dripping and then i will save the frames to use next year! i won’t trim off the excess wax on them as with foundationless frames,  you really need to leave a little on the frame so the bees will hopefully cooperate and build their comb in the direction i need to easily harvest from! lol

big thanks to wendy at midwest green for turning me on the live writer as this post looks alot nicer than previous ones!

huge herbal hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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