Harvesting Liquid Gold

| 11/20/2013 3:29:00 PM

DJ WilsonThe fall honey harvest is the culmination of extreme effort for the bees that we are privileged to have on our farm. A single hive of bees can produce about 100 pounds of honey depending on conditions in any given year. The hive is made up of several types of bees. The following description is an over simplification of life in the hive.

The Queen lives deep in the hive and has two jobs. She is responsible for laying eggs and she produces secretions that control the social order of the beehive. The drone bee is male and its chief job is to mate with a young queen. The worker bees are all female. They are nurse maid to the “baby bees” and then move on to the job of foraging. These female worker bees live approximately six to eight weeks. The average bee will make one to two teaspoons of honey in their life. Honey is an amazing and precious gift.

Through the late spring and summer months, the bees forage for both nectar and pollen that they will process into honey. The amount of honey that can be produced will vary greatly by the available flowering crops as well as the moisture and the temperature.  The bees fill up the frames that we have provided.  Nine to ten frames fill a box or super, and these supers can be varied in depth.  We will add supers to the hives as the bees fill the frames and cap off the honey. It is from these extra stores of honey that we “harvest” the liquid gold.

Harvesting the honey should take place on a warm day and for us is generally in August or September. We begin by gathering our supplies and suiting up. Generally you will need the following equipment:

Smoker, fuel for the smoker, lighter or matches, hive tool, bee hat and veil.

As you work with each hive you will need a place to put the supers. This will vary based on the number of hives that you manage and/or the number of honey yards.  We move our supers directly from the hive to the Honey House.