Good times at LCBA's final 2014 workshop - our honey extraction/spinning party - with many gallons of honey spun & stories swapped about the year in beekeeping. Some of our first year beekeepers got honey, including our Youth Scholarship Program student Joevanie - & others came to watch. Scroll down to see photos & discussion!
Above, new beekeeper Lisa & family with their bucket of honey. Below, Alan Sparling loads a frame into an extractor donated to LCBA by Norm. That's Anna's hand at left, holding up the sticky lid:
Below, Anna & Alan didn't use a filter - the wax chunks are lighter than the honey. They will rise to the top & can be skimmed off later:
Below, Secretary Susanne Weil uncapping honey from her & Peter's Carniolan bees. Thanks to Marnel Groebner for this shot - I don't usually see myself in club pictures :)
Below, first year beekeeper Dennis Morgan uses an uncapping fork to open some cells - a good approach if the comb doesn't protrude much beyond the frames. Hot knives work best when the comb has been built higher than the frame.
Below, Joanne & Dennis with a great looking uncapped frame! Their Italian bees gave them 2 supers this year - their Carnis....not so much. In contrast, Susanne & Peter got 2 supers from their Carnis & nada from their Italians. Different colonies are, well, just different!
Joanne & Dennis spun honey in the extractor donated by President Norm; below, frames ready for spinning in one of our 2 new extractors bought by the club this year. We had 4 stations set up & all were busy!
The new club extractors are 9-frame radials that can be set up several ways. Below, the maximum capacity, 9 frames, or one full super. When supers have 9 rather than 10 frames, the bees can draw the comb out farther, making uncapping much easier.
Below, Gottfried Fritz cranks the new extractor, filled with frames from Ed Odell's bees. In the middle, Kent Yates braces the extractor:
Above, Grubby Groebner takes a hand uncapping some lovely dark amber honey; below, Marnel uncaps another. Grubby & Marnel have "rescue bees" from carveouts & swarm captures this year: hopefully their bees will thrive over winter & the Groebners will bee spinning their own honey a year from now!
So what happens to the uncapped wax & leftover honey? Below, an uncapping tank filling with bits of wax, honey, & the occasional bee part. These cappings go back to bee yards and provide welcome fall nutrition as foragers shore up winter food supplies. Many of us held back frames that were only partially capped, either to scrape open & feed back to bees now, or to store to feed them next spring. FYI: if you unscrape a frame, put it well away from your hives - placed too close to the hives, it could promote attempts by adjacent colonies to enter & "rob" each others' food supplies.
Above, Ed's honey draining from one of the new extractors into a gated bucket. These gates make draining the honey into jars much easier work!
Above, LCBA Youth Scholarship Program student Joevanie Montalvo spinning his first honey while his mentor Tomme Trikosko braces the extractor and his mom Sherry looks on. First year bee colonies don't always build up fast enough for honey to be harvested - congratulations, Joevanie & Tomme!
Above, LCBA President Norm Switzler coaching Joevanie as he uncaps honey for the spinner. Joevanie has a good technique going - bracing the frame with fingers well out of the way of the hot uncapping knife, removing just the top layer of wax cappings to expose the honey without losing too much of it.
Above, Tomme watches Joevanie using the uncapping fork to open some cells that the hot knife didn't reach. Below, Joevanie's sister Davina Grace watches Joevanie uncapping a frame:
Above, after the uncapping comes the spinning: Joevanie enjoying the workout! Below, Joevanie holds a frame pulled from the extractor: zoom in & you can see the emptied cells.
Next step: straining the honey through a filter into a bucket. The filter is 800 microns: a relatively coarse mesh that screens out wax chunks & bee bits, but lets honey retain its pollen, contributing to unique flavors. 400 microns is the smallest filtration that most raw honey judging contests allow ~ below that & no pollen remains:
Above, Joevanie's sister Sariah steadies the bucket as Joevanie balances the filter on top of it. Below, Joevanie's great looking dark amber honey!
Below, Sariah & Davina Grace photobomb Joevanie as he focuses on straining honey. After watching Joevanie's adventures this year, Sariah & Davina Grace want to start beekeeping themselves!
Below, Tomme tilts the extractor as Sariah & Davina hold the filter & bucket: you don't want to leave any honey behind in the bottom of that extractor!
Above, Joevanie smiles as the last of the honey drain into his (pretty full!) bucket. Below, first year beekeeper Trevor spinning honey:
Above, our host, Mentorship Coordinator Gary Stelzner, watches the uncapping; below, little Wicket as the "12th Puppy":