Early (tiny) Honey Harvest!

Last weekend while we were doing a hive inspection (and by "we" I mean that my husband did all the hard work while I stayed a safe distance away supervising), we noticed that we have a ton of capped honey already. We've had a very warm spring here in Seattle, so our bees started to feed early and they've had a lot to choose from. The hive has increased substantially in population since we got them in April and they have been very busy, so we decided it might be okay to have a little taste of our very own honey (normal honey harvest is at the end of August around here). We started out with a little less than half a frame of capped comb:

man holding honeycomb

Since we didn't have that much, we bypassed the extractor and just scraped it down with a hive tool. I took a video because it's kind of hard to describe - the sound isn't that important, but I think it shows the process pretty well.

[embed]http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8sHbMhvf0JE[/embed]

Once the the honey had mostly dripped into the bottom bowl, it was time to wring out what was left from the honeycomb. My most important word of advice on this step is that the gloves are absolutely necessary! This is a very sticky process, as you can imagine, and it will take you about a million hand washings to get clean again if you skip the gloves.

man extracting honey

We just used regular old loose weave washcloths to do this step, because none of the stores near us had cheesecloth, and I think it actually worked fairly well. After this filtering, we did one more before funneling it into the jar, just to make sure we really got all the stuff out.

close up of honey being extracted

We weren't sure what color our honey would be, since we have so many different kinds of food around here, but it ended up being a very pretty light gold color. I was a little nervous about what it was going to taste like - what if we ended up with terrible honey after all this work? I shouldn't have worried, because it's amazing! Of course, we may be just slightly biased, but it's sweet without having a funny aftertaste like you sometimes get with store bought, while at the same time not sweet enough to give you a tummy ache. I'm going to use it to make granola this week and I think it's going to be delicious! We can't wait to see how much we get during the real harvest at the end of the summer...and as quickly as this jar is going, we'll be ready for it!

Freshly extracted honey in a mason jar