Honey House, Part 2
As mentioned yesterday, I let the honey settle in pales and I've taken all the boxes of frames outdoors for the bees to clean up. There is always residual honey left in the combs and the bees go crazy for it. After about two days the frames are all cleaned and the bees move else where to extract nectar from autumn flowers.
Though relatively clean, I can't just store the frames because of an imported insect from Africa known as a wax moth. This moth lays eggs in hives and the larva will eat through the comb and defecate in it rendering it useless.
Comb is an asset to the beekeeper. It bees have to eat eight pounds of honey to produce one pound of wax. If I can preserve the comb the bees can use it again in subsequent years and they won't have to waste energy building new comb from scratch.
Commercial beekeepers use a very nasty chemical to preserve their comb, but I don't use any chemicals in my hives. Instead I place all my frames into a freezer and leave them there over night. This kills any adult, larva or egg that may be living in a frame already. Wax moths are real tricky about laying eggs, so I have to take a torch to flame the insides of the boxes and lids. Once the freeze is over I can then store the boxes of frames in a shed for the winter.
This is also the time when the honey has settled in the pails so I can begin bottling. At this point the boxes of honey frames have been replaced by cases of honey jars in the house. Jarring the honey is also a messy proposition. The gate valves on the settling tank and pails often drip and leak. Sometimes drops of honey miss the mouth of the jar so cleaning is a constant activity.
Progress can be measured by filled cases and how many pails have been emptied and cleaned. At the end of the day all of the honey has been jarred. I save the bottom of the barrel honey for my self. This honey has some microscopic particles of wax in it and it looks almost opaque. This is really textured to the tongue. I like this honey more than clear honey.
After all this work I am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel though another big part of the process is still ahead. Each jar needs to be cleaned and labeled and then I have to attach a hang tag. This is the task I have waiting for me while it rains this weekend. Come Monday I should have some to sell.