We first started our adventure with bees in 2017. No, we didn't start off with a hive, we started out with books, youtube, bee keeping websites and a lot of them. Years of them. We bought our first beehives and the initial start up equipment before we even found the land for Windy Thistle. We bought our first two packages of bees in May of 2019. Yep, took us two years of learning and planning before we even populated our hives.
When we finally did, it was a very exciting time for us, we learned a lot as we ventured out in our new bee suits.
We worried though fall and put quilt boxes on top with sugar blocks. We worried all winter and watched over those two hives as if they were our children. And then, this spring, our bee kids grew up and swarmed! Luckily, we caught the swarms and now have four hives!
One hive surprised us by the speed and so Boyo #1 & Visitor Boyo #2 built a top bar hive in just a day. It's very functional but not beautiful. We were able to successfully transfer the swarm from the catch box into Daisy and a few days later, a new hive arrived and a new swarm, too! We named that last one Hunnysuckle. Daisy is very prolific and is dripping in honey but we only harvested two frames from it.
We didn't touch the ample honey the two hives had last year. We were letting them become established hives. We anticipated our first harvest would be this July and it was! We harvested just short of ten pounds of honey from just four frames of capped honey from Bluebell and some comb honey from two frames of the top bar hive, Daisy. This was just the first harvest, we should have another bigger harvest at the end of this month.
We haven't purchased an extractor or strainer yet, so we improvised with scrubbed clean buckets and ingenuity. Boyo #1 used a spatula to scrape out the honey into a clean bucket and put the cappings into a large bowl.
Then, we lined a colander with a cotton dishtowel and crushed all those cappings up with a potato masher and gathered it all up and tied it to a cabinet pull and let it drip over a large bowl all night.
We left the harvested honey in the bucket overnight to allow the little bit of wax left to rise to the top.
Then we strained the honey and poured it into quart jars. The first harvest ended up being right under 10 lbs not counting the cappings which are still dripping until tomorrow.
We took the empty frames outside and left them for the bees to clean. Those bees got every last drop of the honey from those frames. Tomorrow, we'll put all the cappings out for them to clean, too.
Then we'll render the beeswax for future use in salves, balms and candles. If we're lucky, our next harvest will be close to fifty pounds, since we will be harvesting the top bar and both honey supers that are currently on Buttercup.
Truly a sweet day here at the farm. Lots of works but lots of goodness in the end!