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Dec 4, 2021 - 2:03:10 PM
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883 posts since 5/22/2021

Hey folks,

Well, I recently re-discovered a short report I created not long ago about HOW honey is made, straight from the Beehive, and I thought some of you folks here might like to know more on this subject!

So, here is how honey is made, the small old-time "traditional" american way! In other countries around the world, there are quite a few other methods of getting honey from beehives.

For instance, in Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia, and a few other middle-eastern countries, you can often still find old beekeepers which keep their bee colonies in hollow wood logs, or in small "mud-homes" which keep the bees well insulated from the Asian warmth/cold. They would then have to manually "yank" out the honeycombs gently.

Anyway, here is the report!

 

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As some of you might know (as indicated by my username), I am a small-scale hobby Beekeeper, and I raised 2 hives where I live in Pennsylvania to supply family and friends with raw, delicious, and fresh, honey.

Sadly and unfortunately, one of these beehives died from harsh winter weather in late 2020, and the best and only thing I could do was save the un-eaten, still fresh, honey the bees did not manage to eat in the winter.

Anyhow, I thought some of you might like to learn/know how honey is made straight from the beehive, so I decided to make this little "report" on the subject as I processed the honey. I will go step-by-step in the process, and try to explain to the best of my ability. Feel free to ask me any questions in this discussion you might have.

Above is a photo of 2 of the beehives I have last year in summer. As you can see, there are multiple boxes for each hive."Supers" is the correct term used for these "boxes". Inside both of these beehives, there is a busy, bustling community of some 70,000 Bees for each hive, and 1 queen bee for both. At the height of the season, the Queen Bee can lay up to 2000 worker eggs a day!

As well as this, inside the hive there are "Frames", made of wood, for the bees to store their honey, pollen, water, and raise young bees.

Above is a photo of one of the 16 or so frames of honey that I manage to "Save" from the dead beehive. The "Frame" is the wood surrounding the fresh honey, all capped and surrounded with beeswax the bees made themselves. All of the frame is pure, ripe, heavy, raw honey!

Above is a photo showing some of the depth and side of the honeycomb. It is about as deep as the top joint of your thumb.

After we get the frame of honey, we proceed to remove the wax cappings with a bread knife, so the honey will be able to flow out of the comb. This photo always makes my mouth water! :-)

We proceed to remove the wax cappings on both sides of the frame, and then we put it in a machine called a "Honey Extractor":

Above is a metal honey extractor. Inside is a metal holder to hold the frames of honey in place. Its use is simple: it uses centrifugal force to get the sticky and thick honey out of the comb. We turn the handle shown in the above photo to do this.


So, after we remove the wax cappings from the honey frame on both sides, we put the frame into the extractor metal holder as shown above. We have to do 2 frames at once in the extractor to balance the weight on both sides.

After putting 2 uncapped frames of honey into the extractor, we close the top lid and proceed to turn the handle VERY fast.

Above we see the frames turning VERY FAST in the extractor. The honey flies out of the frames from centrifugal force and hit the metal sides of the extractor.

After hitting the walls of the extractor, the honey slowly flows down to the bottom of it, and piles up at the spigot, as shown above.

Finally, after a few hours of extracting honey from many frames, we start bottling. This is the easiest task, and just takes some time.

By the end of all the bottling and extracting, we are able to get over 35 pounds / 15.88 Kilograms of raw, delicious, honey!

Above is some of the harvest in comparison with a large drinking cup/mug! I feel very sad for the death of the bees, but I am happy I was able to at least save their honey for use.

Anyhow, that is how honey extraction goes, and I hope you enjoyed and learned something in this short "report"!

Let me know if you have any questions about the process or bees. I always enjoy helping others understand :-)

BeeEnvironment

Dec 4, 2021 - 2:31:08 PM
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J e f f

USA

3739 posts since 12/16/2009

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?

Dec 4, 2021 - 2:32:04 PM
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Brian T

Canada

18993 posts since 6/5/2008

Good information.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have always enjoyed eating comb honey, especially on hot buttered toast in the morning. In fact, I have a 6" box of comb sitting by the toaster in the kitchen right now.
Sometimes, I don't get the toast part done, just dive in there with a spoon for a big hit.

Dec 4, 2021 - 2:49:25 PM
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883 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by J e f f

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?


Jeff,

Well, there are quite a few ways to acquire the bees at the beginning. Very experienced beekeepers can often catch a wild hive of honeybees and easily house them and get their bees that way.

However, most small-scale beekeepers usually have to buy bees from other beekeepers in "nuks (pronounced: NU-kes)", or in cardboard packages. I bought mine in a Nuk.

However, recently the pricing of package bees and nuks have skyrocketed to over 200 U.S Dollars now. I read that at the beginning of the 2000s, Nuks and package bees cost around 15-30 dollars. A big increase!

Russ A.

Dec 4, 2021 - 2:50:33 PM

883 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Brian T

Good information.
Ever since I was a little kid, I have always enjoyed eating comb honey, especially on hot buttered toast in the morning. In fact, I have a 6" box of comb sitting by the toaster in the kitchen right now.
Sometimes, I don't get the toast part done, just dive in there with a spoon for a big hit.


Thank you! Yeah, hahah, comb honey has also been a big favorite of mine. We have not had some since earlier this year, but it is very good and tasty. 

Dec 4, 2021 - 3:05:02 PM

slammer

USA

3473 posts since 12/30/2008

I’m a sucker for good quality honey. My grandfather had beehives and always had fresh honeycomb on the table for just about every meal. I miss it so much!!! Everybody and their uncle got a Christmas gift of honey and homemade sausage from my Grandpa. He’s been long gone , but people remind me every year of the gift he used to give. Years ago most farmers had bees . Nothing better than honey on warm buttered toast or biscuits!!!
Slammer!!!

Dec 4, 2021 - 5:11:22 PM
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Brian T

Canada

18993 posts since 6/5/2008

I do not know what it is about the wax in a box of comb honey. I think I even surprised my parents with my interest when I was 3-5. I can still point to the house in their village where the "honey guy" had hives.
Forget the hot buttered toast. Just let me chew on the wax for a while. My grandsons find the wax a most unusual texture. They have the family food adventure genes.

OTOH, Dad was a disciple of "creamed" clover honey. LOTS OF IT. Hot buttered toast was no more than a launching pad for rockets of honey. Nipawin, Saskatchewan are the First Nations words for that region. Best on the planet.

Here in the mountains, some bee keepers can move their hives up and down to match the flowering of all sorts of alpine plants. More bees, more wild plant seed, all is well.

Dec 5, 2021 - 8:28:04 AM
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2953 posts since 2/10/2013

My daughter raised bees. She told me how lethal some commonly used insecticides were to her hives. I did some research and was amazed when I learned about the large amount of low quality honey is imported into the U.S.. If I purchased honey on a regular basis, I make sure I am buying high quality natural honey.

When I was young, waters teemed with helgrammites. Not any more. And I lived in very remote area. But even areas hundreds of miles away from industrial pollutments are adversly affected by their presence.

Dec 5, 2021 - 10:02:05 AM
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7370 posts since 9/5/2006

we have a local guy that we get our raw honey from,, his color varies slightly from time to time but the the honey is always great.

Dec 5, 2021 - 12:07:09 PM
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2472 posts since 7/20/2004

We have so much locally produced honey around here that I'd never think of buying a commercial product. My last pint came from one of my coffee buddies. He only has one hive, but it produced something like 70 lbs of clover honey. His brother, a local dermatologist, has multiple hives and sells his through a number of local outlets. There are two or three other vendors every week at our local farmer's market.

Dec 5, 2021 - 12:41:41 PM

883 posts since 5/22/2021

Yeah, we can all agree, for sure, that raw fresh honey is a GREAT thing to enjoy!!!

The 2 hives I had for ~1 year produced, I'll say: ~125 pounds of honey. That would equate to over 60 pounds a hive! Not bad for a single year!

I am hoping, if my high school work permits, that I can start up beekeeping again next year. Please let me know if anyone on here would want some! Don't have enough honey reserves left for now, but I'll see about next year.

Russ A.

Oh, and as for pesticides/chemicals, I am thankful to live in a area with minimal pesticide usage. However, nearly all the creeks in this part of PA are contaminated due to PCBs, so that is not good, hah.

Dec 5, 2021 - 2:36:27 PM
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Players Union Member

Helix

USA

15022 posts since 8/30/2006
Online Now

Swarms are really fun and exciting to catch.
Get one's name to the Fire Department and they will call you to come and get a swarm.
That's one way to get bees.

A girl with red hair was "chosen" while she was sitting on a Greyhound bus in Newberg, Oregon, everybody stayed calm while they gently combed the swarm into a box for them and mom.

I'm very pleased to see this, great thread.

Dec 5, 2021 - 8:49:22 PM
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12835 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment
quote:
Originally posted by J e f f

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?


Jeff,

Well, there are quite a few ways to acquire the bees at the beginning. Very experienced beekeepers can often catch a wild hive of honeybees and easily house them and get their bees that way.

However, most small-scale beekeepers usually have to buy bees from other beekeepers in "nuks (pronounced: NU-kes)", or in cardboard packages. I bought mine in a Nuk.

However, recently the pricing of package bees and nuks have skyrocketed to over 200 U.S Dollars now. I read that at the beginning of the 2000s, Nuks and package bees cost around 15-30 dollars. A big increase!

Russ A.


To expand on Russ's answer, the bees usually come in about a 3 lb. package with the queen bee in a separate little cage.  The end of her cage has a little plug made out of hard candy.  After gently dumping the bees in their hive, you hook the queen's cage to one of the frames and after a couple of days the bees have acclimated and gotten use acquainted with the queen and have eaten the candy plug where she can escape and start to work laying eggs.  The most common bees are the Italian or Russian honeybees.  I no longer have my hive, but my bees were of the Italian variety which are supposed to be a little less aggressive than the Italians.

Dec 6, 2021 - 1:56:25 AM
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phb

Germany

3112 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by J e f f

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?


Bee folks breed new queen bees and the colony then splits. I believe it is the older queen that moves out of the beehive to look for a new place, not the new queen. For bee keepers this is a very important point in time because if they are not there to offer a new home to the leaving part of the colony, it will just fly away. An uncle of mine kept bees as did his neighbour. One day he saw a big swarm of bees on a pillar of his fence. His neighbour hadn't paid attention to his bees and my uncle caught the swarm in one of his empty hives. Funny enough there is an article in the German law dedicated to bees (§964 BGB) which translates to "If a swarm of bees has moved into a bee dwelling that is occupied by someone else, the ownership and other rights to the bees with which the dwelling was occupied extend to the swarm that has moved in. Ownership and other rights to the drafted swarm expire." Thus, once the swarm was inside my uncle's beehive, the bees were legally his property.

If a beekeeper isn't able to feed all bee swarms, he will sell some. 

Edited by - phb on 12/06/2021 01:57:27

Dec 6, 2021 - 10:07:14 AM
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12835 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by J e f f

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?


Bee folks breed new queen bees and the colony then splits. I believe it is the older queen that moves out of the beehive to look for a new place, not the new queen. For bee keepers this is a very important point in time because if they are not there to offer a new home to the leaving part of the colony, it will just fly away. An uncle of mine kept bees as did his neighbour. One day he saw a big swarm of bees on a pillar of his fence. His neighbour hadn't paid attention to his bees and my uncle caught the swarm in one of his empty hives. Funny enough there is an article in the German law dedicated to bees (§964 BGB) which translates to "If a swarm of bees has moved into a bee dwelling that is occupied by someone else, the ownership and other rights to the bees with which the dwelling was occupied extend to the swarm that has moved in. Ownership and other rights to the drafted swarm expire." Thus, once the swarm was inside my uncle's beehive, the bees were legally his property.

If a beekeeper isn't able to feed all bee swarms, he will sell some. 

 


You are right Phillipp.  I don't remember all of the details, but when you inspect your hive you are always finding cells where a queen was supposed to emerge.  Somehow though either the emerging queen is killed or is never allowed to develop, so there will only be one queen for the hive.  There are some bee folks that raise queens and sell the queens for a new hive.  That is why you keep them in a separate little cage until the worker bees get used to her and accept her as their queen ........ or something like that.  Someone here knows better than I do.

Edited by - BanjoLink on 12/06/2021 10:07:37

Dec 6, 2021 - 1:38:12 PM

883 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by BanjoLink
quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by J e f f

How do you acquire the bees to begin with? Do you have to purchase them?


Bee folks breed new queen bees and the colony then splits. I believe it is the older queen that moves out of the beehive to look for a new place, not the new queen. For bee keepers this is a very important point in time because if they are not there to offer a new home to the leaving part of the colony, it will just fly away. An uncle of mine kept bees as did his neighbour. One day he saw a big swarm of bees on a pillar of his fence. His neighbour hadn't paid attention to his bees and my uncle caught the swarm in one of his empty hives. Funny enough there is an article in the German law dedicated to bees (§964 BGB) which translates to "If a swarm of bees has moved into a bee dwelling that is occupied by someone else, the ownership and other rights to the bees with which the dwelling was occupied extend to the swarm that has moved in. Ownership and other rights to the drafted swarm expire." Thus, once the swarm was inside my uncle's beehive, the bees were legally his property.

If a beekeeper isn't able to feed all bee swarms, he will sell some. 

 


You are right Phillipp.  I don't remember all of the details, but when you inspect your hive you are always finding cells where a queen was supposed to emerge.  Somehow though either the emerging queen is killed or is never allowed to develop, so there will only be one queen for the hive.  There are some bee folks that raise queens and sell the queens for a new hive.  That is why you keep them in a separate little cage until the worker bees get used to her and accept her as their queen ........ or something like that.  Someone here knows better than I do.


Hey, yeah. you hit the nail spot on! That is about all correct, according to my beekeeping education.

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