Honey processing by hand

Honey doesn’t need a lot of processing, but there is the small matter of separating the honey from the wax of the comb. Normally, you’d just take the entire frame out of the hive, run a hot knife over it to take the caps off the cells, and then use a honey extractor to spin the honey out of the comb. We haven’t yet managed to acquire one of these, so any honey extraction we do is done the hard way: by hand.

We’ve been meaning to harvest some honey form our hive for a few months now, but it’s been a wet and stormy spring, so we left it and left it. And then something – perhaps just the unusually stormy winds, perhaps a wandering kangaroo or neighbour’s dog, who knows – knocked the hive over. We checked on the bees and found the hive on its side on the ground, and the bees busily sealing the gaps with wax and propolis. Fast forward a stressful half hour and several stings, and the hive was once more right way up and as weatherproof as it can be.

Since we were opening up the hive to check on the colony anyway, we also took a couple’ve frames of honey. Literally, two frames, which still equates to somewhere int he region of 3 – 5 litres of honey. The bees have been busy.

As a first pass, we just cut the comb off the frames, and put it in a container to deal with later. Later happened last night and this morning; I have no photos, but there was a certain amount of manual comb mashing. I ended up covered in honey to the elbows, and most of the honey ended up in a container. It’s slowly gravity-filtering through a sieve now. The wax, still containing a fair amount of honey, is going to be boiled in water to purify it a bit. Then the wax can be made into candles or something, and the honey-water from cleaning it is going towards an experimental mead-brewing trial.

Because we won’t know the percentage of honey in the water, I’m going to (a) reduce it on the stove to concentrate the sugars, and (b) mix it with some fresh apple juice to make melomel, or fruit mead. Might try half the batch with added brewers yeast, and half with just the wild yeasts from the honey and the apples. Should be interesting to see how it goes.  🙂