This week on the farm, we harvested honey from our honeybee hives! That's right, the delicious liquid gold flowed into quart after quart jar leaving us all with a slight sugar rush and feeling like a heat stroke was immanent. Why? Let's just say you can't press honeycomb without heat and without getting the honey on your fingers.
Since moving to the farm our son, Gabriel, has been learning all about the honey bees on the farm. You can read more about his honeybee adventures HERE. The harvest process began earlier in the day. Uncle Joe and Gabriel put on their protective bee gear and got the smoker ready. They worked one hive at a time. Smoking the bees and then opening the hive. They blew the bees off of the individual racks that they were robbing and carried those racks to the "bee shed." The bee shed is where most of the honey action takes place. But it cannot take place until the heat of the day. The reason? If the temperature is below 80 degrees, the honey flows slow...like molasses. With the temperature higher, the honey flows much more quickly and the process doesn't take as long.
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When the outside temperature hit 90 degrees, the the next step in jarring the honey was ready to begin. Though the temperature outside was pretty hot, the temperature inside the bee shed was even hotter. We are talking over 100 degrees...with a fan blowing! We made sure there were loads of cold drinks for anyone that needed them.
Uncle Joe began removing the racks filled with honey. He handed them off to Uncle Johnny who cut the honeycomb out of each rack and sliced them into smaller pieces. They put two racks off to the side to use as the honeycomb in several jars. Some people like the honeycomb in their honey jar and some do not. So, the rest would be pressed.
Uncle Johnny placed each chunk of honeycomb into the wooden honey press. They continued this process until the honey press was filled to the rim. Then, Uncle Joe began turning the crank of the honey press. This lowered the top down onto the honeycomb and slowly pressed all of the honey out of it. The kids even got to take a turn using the cranking and watching the honey flow!
The honey flowed out of the honey press very quickly and smoothly. Straight it went into the filter bucket. This bucket filters out any debris that may be in the honey and only lets the pure honey down into the bottom where the spout is located. All the while Uncle Johnny continued to add more honeycomb to the honey press and press it down.
Remember those two racks that they held back to use as honeycomb in the jars? Well, once they had finished pressing all of the other honeycombs, they brought those two racks to the table and began slicing them up. They placed each slice into a sterilized jar and set them aside.
Once they had put a slice of honeycomb into the desired number of jars, they took them straight to the filter bucket spout to be filled with honey first. Then, they filled all of the empty sterilized jars until the honey ran out. 30 jars in all were filled and we got to bring home seven of them! The process of harvesting honey is such an interesting one! The children thoroughly enjoyed the experience despite the heat. and ate their fill of honey before the day was done. It was a pretty sweet day, and it doesn't get much sweeter than honey.