In Welcome to the Farm: How-to Wisdom from The Elliott Homestead, Shaye Elliot teaches readers how they can live a homestead lifestyle without a farm. In this fully illustrated how-to, Elliot shows readers how to harvest their own vegetables, milk a dairy cow, can jams and jellies, and more! The following excerpt is from Chapter 6, "Beginning Your Apiary."
The first time we ever harvested honey from our bees, I was elated. Actually, even the word elated doesn't do justice to the incredible feeling I experienced. With so many hard lessons learned in homesteading, to have a new venture that actually went, dare I say, as planned, was a huge reward. We harvested gallons and gallons of honey that first year and as we bottled it into glass jars, our entire family was beaming. We spent the rest of the night licking the sticky stuff off our fingers and spoons, and no one complained. This is by no means the only way to harvest honey, but it's how we roll around here. Here's how you do it:
A centrifuge honey extractor is what you'll need. It's a fairly simple device. You insert the frames of honey inside the mechanism, and with a rapid turn of the handle, the extractor spins them incredibly fast. The honey spins from its comb and drips down the side of the extractor, to be bottled through a valve at the bottom. Pretty straightforward. What I like about this method is that it leaves the comb intact. If you choose to harvest the comb for wax (which would no doubt serve a great purpose in making homemade beeswax candles), it would require the bees to rebuild that comb before they could once again fill it with honey. On our farm, we raise bees for the honey, so I always try to leave as much comb for them as possible.
Once you're ready to harvest the honey, use a warm knife to carefully and gently uncap the honey. This is done by sliding the blade of the knife across the comb, scraping off the layer of wax that caps the honey. Once the honey is uncapped on both sides of the frame, it can go into the extractor.
Spin the handle on the extractor continuously. Work it! You can stop, pull out the frame, check your progress on how much honey is still left in the comb, and then keep on going.
Once the frame is completely empty on one side, turn the frame and repeat the process on the other size.
After extracting the honey, simply run the honey through a small, mesh strainer (it helps to catch any chunks of wax or dead bees that have fallen into the honey) and then pour it right into a bottle or jug for storage.
Excerpted with permission from Welcome to the Farm, by Shaye Elliot. Published by Lyons Press, © 2017.
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