Friday, June 13, 2014

Honey, baby!

It was time to harvest - finally!
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If you´ve been following this blog, you know we´ve been trying our hands at beekeeping since April - starting out with two tribes, then stepping up a bit to now four tribes.

Two weeks ago, we harvested our first honey, like, our honey! That´s so awesome - come on, let´s take a minute to appreciate the pure beauty of this:
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This is a honeycomb, partly opened - the white stuff are the "lids" with which the bees close up each individual chamber.

We took out the honey frames, gently brushed off all the bees, swiftly carried it all inside and began opening them - there are special opening forks for that, but well, you don´t have to buy every gadget. We tried both a regular fork and a sharp knife - the sharp knife worked perfectly.
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I had my dear friend over to help, and I hope she´ll be okay with me posting this picture on which we both look like old, curvy farmer´s wives - which, when you think of it, is very beautiful :) And see how Tim is grinning? That was when she scolded me on not opening the combs thoroughly enough...

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Harvesting honey is, we found out, an act of beauty all around.

After opening the combs, we inserted them into the centrifuge:
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Basically, there are two methods to get the honey - either the very traditional way, of taking the whole honeycomb, crushing and then straining it, or the one that uses a centrifuge.

The advantage of the crush and strain method is - you don´t need a super expensive centrifuge, and you harvest lots of wax.

We tried the crush´n-strain method a week before, just because we felt like it - Ronja had her friend over, and we thought it was fun.
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It was :)

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The advantage of the method using a centrifuge is, you get more honey out of your combs, with less wax particles, and you can re-insert the emptied combs back into the tribe, and the bees will fill them again - without spending all their energy on building a whole new comb. It´s faster and less messy - slightly :)

Also, I think Tim just had a lot of fun buying a big, shiny centrifuge.
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Can you see how much fun that was? I think you can :)

And look at the golden honey, the first honey we ever harvested:
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We filled the bucket a little more than half, from just 8 honeycombs. It didn´t look like much, but so far, it filled 26 glasses of honey, not counting the various experiments - honey with nuts, honey with cinnamon, honey soap, honey handbalm - and there´s still some left in the bucket, and the season´s not over, too - I suppose we´ll harvest about twice as much again by the time of... let´s say the end of July.

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All that was left to do was whipping up some nice  labels on picmonkey - I could even write on them that we own an official certificate to produce honey: Ronja completed her beekeeping course and does, indeed posses a liscense to sell the honey she produced. I don´t. But she does.
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I state this with a great amount of motherly pride - I mean, has anybody else ever had a ten year old daughter who is an official beekeeper? And I am very sure we would never, ever, even have thought about having honeybees wouldn´t it be for Ronja. This was entirely her project, from the start, and we just hopped on her train. And now - we´ve got honey :)

Come back soon - I´ve got another post to come about heavenly honey soap soon!

As for music for today...

Ingrid. Just ingrid, tearing me apart :)

I once went to one of her shows - she sang in a church, in Cologne, and made me and my friend cry.
Her music reminds me of that favourite grey cardigan I once owned, the one that´s cut really wide, to embrace another person. It´s not even the lyrics - at least not in this song, though definetly in others - but I feel her voice, and her melodies, ultimately speak to me.

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