An overview of beekeeping.
During late summer and early autumn, brood production and honey production drop. Unlike in spring, you should now crowd the bees by giving them only one or two honey supers. This forces bees to store honey in the brood nest. Colonies are usually overwintered in two hive bodies or in one hive body and at least one honey super. If you overwinter in one hive body and a honey super, remove the queen excluder so the queen can move up into the honey during winter. Colonies should weigh at least 100 pounds in late fall. If they are light on stores, feed them a heavy syrup (two parts sugar one part water).
Honey is sold as “extracted” honey – bottled, liquid honey that has been extracted from the combs; “comb” honey -honey still in its natural comb; and “chunk” honey – a bottled combination of extracted and comb.
Honey extracting equipment for the hobbyist is specialized and represents a one-time investment of about $500 for new equipment. Used equipment is often available at significant savings. These are the basic tools and procedures for extracting honey:
1. Uncapping knife – A heated knife for slicing off the cappings from combs of honey.
2. Uncapping tank – A container for receiving the cappings. Wet cappings fall onto a screen, and honey drips through to the bottom of the tank and out a spigot.
3. Extractor – A drum containing a rotating wire basket. Uncapped combs are placed in the basket and the basket is turned by hand or by motor. Honey is flung out of the combs onto the sides of the tank and drains through a spigot.
4. Strainer – A mesh of coarse screen or cloth directly under the extractor spigot. This filters out large debris such as wax and dead bees.
5. Storage tank – A large tank with a spigot, or “honey gate,” at the bottom. As honey settles in the tank, air bubbles and small debris rise to the top and can be skimmed off, allowing honey that is bottled from the honey gate to be clear and attractive.
Sometimes extracted honey granulates. This is a natural process, and the honey is still perfectly edible. If bottled honey granulates, loosen the lid and place the jar in a pan of water on a stove. Heat and stir the honey until it re-liquifies.