Archive for picture of a black widow spider

There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills!

Posted in Bees & Hummingbirds with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2010 by PickMeYard

Yosemite Sam struck gold in the hills, but we’ve found gold in our own yard!  We finally harvested our first batch of honey today…liquid gold.  It was really exciting for us.  It didn’t come easy which made us appreciate it even more.

Grayson is suited up and ready to rob the bees.

We harvested about 15 gallons of orange blossom honey out of our honey super.  It’s not as much as I had hoped for but it’s enough to make us really happy.  They say that food you grow yourself always tastes better than store-bought. 

Honey Harvesting House.

Grayson and I took the super off the top of our bee hive yesterday.  We gently brushed the bees away and brought the super of honey into our house to store it overnight.  Early this morning we took the super to a friend’s honey house where he keeps his honey extractor.  He is very generous to let us use it because a honey extractor costs more money than I’d like to invest.  Dadant sells a hand powered extractor for over four hundred dollars.  A hand-cranked extractor is a lot of work.  Dadant sells an electronic extractor for over a thousand dollars.  A motor driven extractor is much easier. 

Harvesting Honey.

Each frame of honey has capped honey cells on it before it’s put into the extractor.  We used an electronic knife which gets really hot and cuts off the top of the capped honey with ease.

The electric knife is used to cut the caps off the honey comb so the honey can be extracted.

This is honey comb on the frame after the caps have been cut off.

The frames are put inside the extractor and the extractor spins the honey out of the frames.

The honey comes out of a spigot at the bottom of the extractor.

Our honey.

After we harvested the honey from the frames, we put the frames back into the super and back onto the bee hive.  There is still honey in the frames for the bees to eat and they still have comb on them.  The bees will use them again.  We put the wax from today’s harvest out by the bee hive when we got home.  The bees cleaned the wax up for us.  I’ll use the wax to make stuff like candles, lotions, and lip gloss. 

I filtered the honey again before I bottled it.  We gave our first bottle to my mom.  It was a great feeling to take her fresh honey and eggs from our own yard.  Grayson said we need a couple of goats so we can have fresh milk too.  That would be the icing on the cake for our little backyard.

This small & delicate spider watched us closely in the honey house.

I included this picture of a black widow spider  just in case you’ve never seen one.  They are relatively small spiders but can be deadly.  We had three of them within inches of where we had our hands today in the honey house.  They have a distinctive red hour-glass on the underside of their body.  We had just found a dead black widow at the front door of our house last night and put it in a jar to study it.  Our house is a long way from where we found the other three widows today.  We were talking about the black widow we had found at our home when we discovered the spiders just inches from where we were working.  We thought that was a real coincidence.  There seem to be a lot of them in Southwest Florida lately so I’m just reminding you not to stick your hands into any dark places.

Grayson doesn’t think this post will encourage anyone to keep their own bees because of the cost associated with the honey extracting equipment.  This is why we believe it is good to have friends that enjoy the same hobbies.  Our local beekeeping association (BASF) has a great group of people.  They’re all so much fun and so helpful.  We were warned that keeping bees isn’t a cheap hobby.   It hasn’t deterred us so far.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Come grow with us!