Last night our professional bee keepers
brought down 2 frames from our roof top apiary accommodation to the community room for us to work on.
We set about taking turns at de-capping the combs: that is lifting off the top portion of the cells to allow the honey to be spun out. It is a delicate job. We used an uncapping fork with small teeth. (In the larger industry they might use a hot knife.) You don’t want to dig too deep. The comb underneath should be kept intact, as much as possible. It will be returned to the hive where our busy little worker bees will tidy it up and refill it, rather than having to build whole new combs on the frame. This saves time and energy for our hive.
Once de-cap-itated the frames were moved to the extractor and we each had our turn at working the crank handle and spinning the honey free of the wax comb. Centrifugal force caused it to run down the sides of the extractor where it was filtered to catch errant pieces of wax. Each frame had to be spun twice to remove all the golden goodness from both sides. Two frames roughly 1 ft X 2.5 ft each produced a surprising amount of honey, possibly, forgiving my metric math, 2 kg or 4 lbs +/-.
It was filtered again before each individual small bottle (maybe 4 oz?) was filled from a spout and capped for future enjoyment. Each hive produces a unique flavour of honey. There are the standard flavours, of course, clover and buckwheat. But here we seem to have a unique Cabbagetown flavour. Our 8th floor rooftop hive had definite hints of pepper! David, with the small ground level hive used for our demos, reports mint overtones to his honey.
I’m not sure what they do with the wax from the de-cap-itating but I gathered a good measure in a plastic glass. This morning I found a lovely little puddle of even more honey in the bottom of the glass. Someone recommended adding the comb wax to hot cereals like oatmeal. Those bees work so hard making the stuff there have to be microscopic nutrients in there.
We have 10 more frames to harvest, which the professionals, Alvéole will do for us.
Ryan and Alvéole estimate that we may see 13 kg of honey from our hive. That’s 28 lbs.
The honey will be sold in the Bleecker lobby later this fall. Ryan thought we could put the funds towards installing another hive in the courtyard!
Now that is one sweet plan to get buzzed about.