I pulled a frame of honey out of one of my hives on Saturday. The frame was 100% capped honey, which means the water content was low enough to be able to pull that frame out and harvest the honey. The rule I have heard is that if the frame is 75% capped, it is ready to be packaged. Anything less than that and the honey will have too much water which will cause it to ferment. The bees had filled the second super completely and the frame was the one on the edge. I was so excited about it that I basically knocked the bees off by hitting the wood frame quickly on a cement block. The motion caused all of the bees to drop off at once. I put the top on and walked briskly back to the house. There were a few that died as a result of when I used the hive tool to pull the frame out, but there will always a few crushed bees whenever the hive is opened.
I wasn’t prepared to take honey today, so I had nothing set-up for extraction. Since this honey is only for my personal use, I didn’t bother to use a double strainer. I like little bits of wax and pollen in my honey because it gives it more flavor. When I sell honey to customers I will strain out much more of the wax and pollen because I think people like clear honey.
The top picture shows how the frame looks when it is completely capped. There is some honey dripping from where the hive tool broke open the wax caps. If I would have been more careful, then entire frame would be one sheet of capped honey without any of the sticky sweet substance dripping on the counter. To get the wax cappings off, I used something called a capping knife which looks like a large bread knife except for the fact that both sides are serrated and the end is slightly curved upward. Since the temperature was in the mid-80s, the honey flowed easily out of the cells, through a sieve and into a large mixing bowl. I had a yield of a little over one quart jar of liquid honey.
I’m not sure if it is only because I have put a lot of time and work into having honey bees or if this is really the best tasting honey in the world. I can only describe it as having a slightly minty flavor. There were several cells of capped pollen. I tried one and it had an intense honey flavor with a grainy texture. I have heard that people eat them for their health benefits. Looking at the capped pollen, each one of them has distinct layers from when an individual honey bee brought back full pollen sacks and deposited them in the cell. It is extraordinary how much work was done to produce just one of those cells of pollen or and the bees have capped tens of thousands of them already this year.