After a few disappointing years losing hives to weather, beetles and swarms, it was finally honey harvesting day on the farm yesterday! One of the three captured swarms from last year really devoted their efforts to making honey. Yesterday’s haul was three gallons from that hive alone with over twice that much left. Non-chemical bee keeping is difficult as there are many pests, viruses and bacteria that target bees today that were not present years ago. That makes us especially thankful to get beautiful, healthful raw honey from our partner bees.
The bee hives on our farm are housed what’s called langstroth hives. It consists of boxes (open top and bottom) with ten frames inside each. The bees create wax cells within the frames to house either larvae, pollen or nectar (that they turn into honey).The bees generally use the lower boxes to lay eggs and raise more bees. The upper boxes are where the bees make and store honey. The general steps for harvesting honey as follows:
- Take the fully populated (with honey) and capped (sealed) frame from hive and shoo away the bees
- Scrape or melt the top capped honey cells to release the honey when spun
- Load the frames into a spinner and spin the honey out of the frames
- Filter the honey and pour into containers
Raw honey offers a plethora of health benefits and medicinal uses; it’s not just used as a sweetener in baking and cooking. We enjoy it in place of sugar in our morning coffee, and include it in most of our homemade bread recipes. Many people pursue local honey to aid in decreasing allergies. It is a known antibiotic for topical use, and often used to soothe a sore throat. For more information, check out this article from Mother Earth Living, The History of Honey as Medicine.