This post is dedicated to my hero and favorite beekeeper. Without you, all of this wouldn't be nearly as much fun. xo
One of the first questions people ask us when they find out we keep honeybees is, "How much honey have you gotten?" It's a very valid question and one that I am likely to ask anyone who has bees, too. In addition to wanting them to pollinate our garden and fruit trees, we have bees because we love honey and we are hoping to get some.
Up until now, we've replied to this question with our little schpeal, "Well, the first year it's often better not to take honey so the colonies are sure to have enough to get them through winter so we didn't take any honey last year. We're hoping to this year but we'll have to wait and see."
After this past weekend, we're able to answer a bit differently. We were away overnight and didn't get to the hives until Sunday evening. We just needed to do a quick check to see if the two colonies we'd left to raise their own queens had done so (one did and one didn't). While inside the hives, we came across three bars of pristine comb with mostly capped honey. We felt certain that these colonies would still have plenty of stores for themselves and could easily build up stores throughout the rest of the year so we brushed them free of bees and brought them inside.
One of the huge benefits of top bar hives is that you don't need anything fancy to extract honey. Extractors are expensive and are made for honey combs on frames of foundation. No such equipment is needed if you're a small-scale top bar beekeeper. To harvest honey in top bar combs you simply cut it from the bar and crush it, letting the honey drip through cheese cloth or a paint strainer and into a bowl or bucket. We used a clean paint strainer, my large canning pot, a glass bowl, and a couple clothespins.
I've been battling little ants in our kitchen so Jamey created a moat for the pot to sit on so they couldn't get to the honey pot. We also used the lid to keep flies out.
We're excited to go back into the hives in a couple weeks to see if they might be able to spare a few more combs for us- their humble (and still-flying-by-the-seat-of-our-pants) "owners". Pin It