After a difficult start, with lots of rain and cool weather, summer finally kicked in, and it turned out to be a very productive summer for our bees. In the middle of August it’s time to extract the honey. The chestnut trees have flowered, which leaves the ivy and heather for the bees to collect after we have extracted the honey, and limits the trauma from having taken part of their honey. Chestnuts trees are abundant in this region of France, and are the source of many specialities from chestnut cream and chestnut flour to chestnut honey.
The objective was to retrieved the supers of the 4 hives that we had installed in mid-June and mid-July (we installed a second super on 3 on the hives since the 1st ones were almost full).
The materials needed: gloves, smoker, a container to enclose the honeycombs once they are removed.
Once we removed all the honeycombs we took them into our “honey kitchen” (we renovated the bottom floor of one of the houses in our hamlet into a kitchen where we can extract and pot honey, make jams from the fruits in our garden, make beer, and other goodies. I will post an article soon on the renovations in our hamlet 😉
To remove the honey from the honey frames one has to uncap the honeycombs. (The bees cap the honeycombs in the hive once the have removed the humidity from the honey in order to stock it).
Using the manivelle, you spin the extractor, to extract the honey. The honey must then be transferred into a soaking container with a strainer on top which filters the debris of wax that may have fallen off the frames during the extraction process.
The honey will stay in the soaking container for about 10 days, during which the remaining debris will rise to the top and then can be removed before putting the honey into jars.
Our bees produced 90kg (198 lbs.) of multi-flower honey ! A great harvest for a first and considering the season was generally not a good one for bees in France and in many other places around the world.