We have official begun harvesting honey, nearly 2 weeks behind schedule. Normally I would take off the week of the County Fair to spend time pulling honey and extracting. But this year I simply did not have any time left to take off of my day job. Plus we spent more time at the fair than we normally do because we gave a live bee show as part of the Northwest Ohio Beekeepers Association. It was a good time and I’ll have to post pictures of it later, but it has put me considerably behind.
Our extracting setup is fairly simply. A 20 frame stainless steel Cowen extractor, 8′ stainless uncapping tank, 100 gallon tank, and a 15 gallon bottling tank, all from Kelly’s. We use the bottleing tank most of the year for it’s intended purpose (bottleing honey), but when harvesting we use it to feed honey though a strainer in the 100 gallon tank. Last year we also added a vibrating knife (not pictured), also from Kelly’s, which helps speed things up and reduces the strain on my wrists as compared to the manual electric heated knife. It wasn’t cheap but was definately worth the expense. (The previous year I ended up wearing a wrist brace for 2 months after harvesting and I was seriously worried I might need carpel tunnel surgery).
With this setup we extracted over 6,000lbs in 2005. Some day we’ll add a sump and a pump to move the honey from the extractor to the top 15 gallon tank. But for now I use a step stool and 5 gallon bucket to carry the honey and pour it in the top tank. It’s really not that bad.
I noticed today that the goldenrod has just started blooming. I’m hoping the bees will bring in a good amount of necter to help build up for winter after the last 4 days of rain. By the end of this weekend I hope to pull all the honey off the hives and at least have it in the honey house, but I’m afraid it will take several weeks before I’m done extracting because I can only extract in the evenings and weekends this year and I have to get other beekeeping tasks done… more on that later.