Our mentor, Lew, came down this morning to walk us through our first honey extraction. The first order of business is getting the bees out of the supers that we wanted to extract honey from. Lew sprinkled a chemical on this board, then placed it on top of one of the hives. The idea is that the bees will go down the hive to get away from it. However, this requires a warm sunny day and we (quite thankfully, as the extracting shed was HOT) had a slightly cooler overcast day today and the chemical didn't heat enough to work.
This means that Lew fired up the leaf blower, tipped each super, and blasted the bees out of it. They weren't very happy, but they did as they were told.
We removed the ones with honey and got down to the supers with brood (home of the next generation of bees). These we left, of course!
Jim loaded the supers with honey onto the back of Lew's truck for the trip to his extracting shed.
Here the first order of business is to remove the capped comb from the outsides of each frame. Lew has a machine that does this. The knife that cuts it off is heated with steam. The capped comb (which has some honey still in it) drops to a stainless steel plate and drains into a heated vat. The honey sinks and the comb and other residue rises, so nothing is wasted.
From there the frames are placed in the extractor, basically a large centrifuge. Lew's holds something like 60 frames. (We've been given parts to build one that holds four at a time!)
It takes about fifteen minutes of spin time to extract the honey. Then Lew opens the valve at the bottom of the extractor tank, starts another little pump that sucks the honey up into the vat, where it runs through a filter before we filled our containers.
And here's the truck loaded with our empty supers (ready to be stored until next June) and the honey. Each of the small buckets holds seven pounds. A good day's work!
Is it delicious? You betcha. :D