Honey Extraction and Bottling

I have extracted the honey in the supers from my colonies. In all there were 12 supers but most were around half full, at least the majority were capped off. About 8 were uncapped and I didn’t extract these as the water content might lead to fermentation problems later with the bottled honey (don’t ask me how I know this!). I checked the water content with a refractometer and it gave a reading of 18.25 to 18.5 which is what I was after. This also means the honey will be ideal for creaming (more in a future post).

To uncap the honey I resorted to suing my uncapping knife which as it’s heated made short work of the job, but is a bit messy. I did try using a heat gun on some of the frames but the results were a bit patchy and there was quite a bit of honey left in these frames after spinning. The advantage of the heat gun method is that it’s a lot less messy and should be quicker. However, past experience shows that it only really works with frames that haven’t been previously extracted.

In all I managed to get around 75Kgs which is about 50% of what I had expected earlier in the season. But it seems that yields across the UK are down significantly. I also produced some cut comb for the first time. Found it very easy with the comb cutter and certainly not as messy as I had envisaged it would be.

Finally after a couple of days in the settling tanks I have started to bottle some of it into 454g and 227g jars. The cut comb goes straight into containers and is topped up to 227g with some liquid honey.

I have had some new labels printed up using one of my photos and I am really pleased with the way they have turned out.

Taking off the supers – Honey Yield Down

I took the supers off today ready for extracting in a week or so. At this stage I have 12 supers but quite a few are only about half full. I find it quite difficult to estimate how much honey I will finally get – normally I’m a bit too optimistic. So my guess would be around 200lbs. Last year I was a bit careless in bottling honey that had a water content of around 23% and it started to ferment within about 3 months. So this year I will be a bit more rigorous and ensure that I’m at 19% – 20% to avoid post bottling issues.

I removed the supers using either Porter type escapes or my clearer board with some “Bee-Quick” sprayed on it. The clearer board works really well if it’s reasonably warm but as is often the case in the UK the temperature isn’t hot enough and the bees are still evident in the supers.

 

Overall I would say the honey yield is about 50% of what I would have expected from the colonies I have been managing. Talking to other beekeepers it appears my experience is typical. I notice that the BBC is also saying honey yields across the UK are at about 50% of the average. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19521845

This year I will also produce some cut comb and have taken off 1 super of unwired combs. Fortunately I marked the frames so know which ones to use the comb cutter on.