|There weren't many filled combs, but enough to harvest for a sample.|
Because I want some of the wax as well as the honey, I planned to use the crush and strain method. Last year I bought a bucket strainer system from BeeThinking, because I can use it to strain and store honey. I like it because it includes a honey gate for quick filling of honey containers. It holds 3.5 gallons, however, which I was nowhere close to having. I did use the two straining bags supplied with it, but rigged up my own straining system.
|My strainer fits perfectly inside the pie ring which fits perfectly over|
the pot. Two of these were just right for the amount of comb I had.
|The mesh straining bag folded over the pot and held half my comb. I|
used a wooden potato masher to crush the comb & let the honey flow.
Gravity and warmth are what drains the honey. Honey becomes more viscous as temperatures drop, so a warm kitchen means better drainage into the pot.
How long? A lot of folks seem to leave it only overnight. On one bee forum I read of someone who let it drain for a week. I stirred the crushed comb to check on the honey, and let it sit five days, until most of the honey had drained from the bottom of the mesh bag.
My yield was six pints. Isn't it pretty?
The comb is then washed, dried, and stored (usually in the freezer) until enough is collected to render. One tip I got over at HoneyBeeSuite was to strain and save that first comb wash water and use it in cooking. I did just that.
Of course, no harvest is complete without some feasting.
|Homegrown honey on homemade biscuits.|
Because I only strained it, it still contains the pollen and would be considered raw honey. For those interested in some honey processing terms, here they are:
Strained honey - has been poured through a mesh strainer to remove wax and debris
Filtered honey - has been run through a fine filter to remove pollen
Raw honey - not heat treated, not filtered
Pasteurized honey - heat treated to kill yeasts and bacteria (even though honey has known antibacterial effects)
Here's hoping the new hives do better.