Sunday, April 11, 2010

A sweet, sweet day

Maple syrup season wrapped up a couple weeks ago, but we're still settling and canning. We put up another gallon and a half today. There's still another 2 gallons-ish waiting to be canned, so we'll end up with close to last year's total. Considering we added 12 more buckets, it comes out to be a mediocre year. Why should we be different than anyone else? Still, thanks to the trees.

Our last sap collection didn't add up to enough to boil for syrup, so I boiled the 4 gallons down to two, and pitched in a red wine yeast. It's bubbling merrily along.

It was a bittersweet day, too. Zelda's hive came through the winter very weak, and when I checked today, there were literally a half dozen bees flying around the entrance. When I opened the hive, there was nobody home. They had built comb at a crazy angle relative to the frames in one hive body; guess they didn't really know how to do it without foundation to guide them. Rebuilding those frames has been in the plan, so I brought it down to the garage and we had our first honey harvest today! The girls were just giddy with excitement over all that honey. We cut the comb out of the frames at first, but as things began to fall apart, we all dove in with our hands. Six very sticky hands. LR washed her hands in the pond so we could open a door and get in the house!

I tried a mashed-comb extraction technique I found on the web, which involved putting mashed comb in jars and filtering out the honey, ...

Trouble is, since honey is a bit viscous, the jars vapor-locked within seconds, and when I tipped them to allow air to move upward they leaked.

Version two features a paint straining bag suspended from a freshly-cut tripod. By morning, things should be well-filtered.

Our first honey harvest - nearly a quart of raw, golden elixir. There's a bunch more to be filtered, too. If a tablespoon is the life's work of 12 bees, then this quart is very hard-earned!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Kirk,

    Sorry to hear about your bees. I love your tripod system for the honey drip. That would never last in our house though - the kids would have their tongues stuck to the outside of the bag. We use a 3 gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom stuck inside a 5 gallon bucket. Works like a charm but it looks like the tripod did too.

    Good luck with the next hive. Cheers and happy beekeeping!