Friday, June 24, 2016


This morning I had one major goal: extract the honey from the honeycomb we collected during our "swarm" removal yesterday. I'd heard just about everyone in my beekeepers' meetings tell an extraction story involving cut comb and pantyhose, so we got out first thing and bought a pack of 10 pairs of knee-highs, then while the kiddos ate lunch Mama gathered supplies.

Bucket for collecting honey-drowned bees? Check.

Tweezers for said collection? Check.

Pantyhose? Check.

Wide-mouthed funnel for holding pantyhose open? Check.

Five-gallon bucket 2/3 full of cut comb? Check and check.

I had to set everything up on the floor, because I couldn't reach over the edge of the 5-gallon bucket and work the cut comb down inside it when it was up on the counter!

I worked over the comb, tweezing bees and pulling out chunks to stuff down inside my selected knee-high for about twenty minutes, but I soon realized I must be missing a crucial piece to this method of extraction. Not only is it ridiculously tedious to fill the stocking from the toe up, but in about five seconds the entire stocking was entirely sticky. For me that added up to flakes of wax and debris sticking all over the outside of the stocking while I worked to stuff comb inside the stocking, which then completely defeats the purpose of using the stocking as a filter in the first place!

I only filled one knee-high before abandoning the process to brainstorm a more efficient way to get this job done.

(Also, ewww, it just looks gross.)

I liked the idea of the fine mesh of the stocking as the filter medium, I just didn't like how ridiculous it was to stuff the dang thing. I looked around my kitchen and came up with a plan.

I stretched a stocking over a small colander, fitted it into the rack for my stacking mugs, and put the whole thing inside my largest Pyrex mixing bowl. Now I could pile up the comb much more quickly without exposing every surface of the stocking to the debris I was trying to keep out of the honey.

After that small change the whole sticky process was a breeze. I was able to put three or four times more comb per stocking than I had managed by stuffing the thing, and it was way easier!

My final stroke of genius was deciding to move the whole dripping assembly to the back of my car so the natural summer heat would thin the honey without killing the good enzymes we all love, allowing the honey to drain from the comb that much quicker.

All I had to do was close up the back to protect them from pests and robbing bees, and they didn't even have to be covered!

I'm about halfway through the process right now and I already have over half a gallon of honey jarred up!

Gratitude doesn't even begin to describe it. Bees are amazing!

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