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Thread: Bug Ranching (Part Two) - Way, way picture heavy.

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    River Basser RIVER BASSIN FLOOD ol' Feller's Avatar
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    Default Bug Ranching (Part Two) - Way, way picture heavy.

    If you missed "part one", you can find it here and catch up: http://riverbassin.com/forum/showthr...cows-in-a-box)

    Time to milk the "cows in a box"....because I posted the first part, I guess I'd best finish the story. Those bees have been working like crazy all Spring hitting everything that blooms, collecting pollen to feed their young and nectar for honey. The stored honey is what they put up to eat to survive the Winter, that's why they work so hard to make it and they're certainly not making it for us! That's why this part is called "robbing the bees". With some beekeeping management, they will produce what they need to survive and extra too...and that's mine and I'm coming for it! Here's how we get the honey from the bee hive to the jar:

    We've been checking and found that the "extra" honey is ready to take, (more about that later), open up the hive by removing the top and there it is! But...covered with bees who ain't willing to give it up...




    We take this thing called a "fume pad" that fits on top of the hive and squirt some stinky stuff on it called "Bee Go" or "Bee Robber"...they hate this stuff (me too for that matter) and it runs everybody in the hive downstairs...




    ...and sometimes right out the front door! They hate this stuff.


    Now we take the "supers" (a strange name for the hive sections with the honey frames in it, have no idea why it's called a "super"), off the hive and get any stragglers off with a leaf blower.




    We rob the hives that have ripe honey, each super weighs about 45 pounds and holds 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of honey. The bees are master engineers, utilizing every bit of available space for storage.



    We stack the supers in my truck bed because it has a bed cover. When the bees get a smell of the honey, they will come in force to take it back! Honeybees are little flying tankers, and their toungues are like a long straw they use to load themselves. I poured a gallon of honey that I couldn't sell out on my driveway, and in 3-4 hours it was gone! Every speck of it, you could not even tell it had been there. One bee finds it, goes back and tells others, and soon there are literally thousands of bees working as hard as they can to get all they can and carry it back to their hive. (Would be a lot like people if somebody found a field full of cash lying all over the place.) Anyway, that's why the supers are put in a safe place for now...



    Bees go into their hives after dark, so we wait until after dark to take the honey out of the frames for the above mentioned reasons. After dark, no scout bees are out and about to get a whiff of the honey and send the troops to get it, it works really well...we've done it during the day and it's just too aggravating dealing with all the bees flying around and getting into everything acting crazy over the strong honey smell. So later that day (after dark) we set up the stuff to take-off the honey:



    Plenty of washed buckets fitted with honey spouts; micro-mesh strainers for the buckets to strain out bits of wax, comb, bee parts, etc. ; the silver thing is a honey extractor which spins the frames around and slings out the honey, the tubs to the right are where we un-cap the honey frames before putting them in the extractor; and plenty of plastic to keep honey drippings off the floor.
    This batch is Spring honey, which is darker than Summer or Sourwood honey, because in the Spring when everything is blooming all at once, the bees are here there everywhere as hard as they can go collecting all kinds of nectar. It all blends to a darker, and I think better tasting, honey than the lighter-colored Summer honey. Plus, the Spring honey is the most beneficial for allergies and such.....I just like the way it tastes.

    At the beginning, I mentioned something about knowing when the honey was ready to take, or "ripe",...so how do you know when honey is ripe? When the bees store the nectar in the comb, it has a high water content, the bees leave the comb cells open (or uncapped) until the water has evaporated out to the right amount of moisture content in the honey...then they cap it. They know when the water content is exactly right, too much moisture and the honey will ferment and ruin. So when the experts determine the honey is ready, they cap it and that's the way to know it's ripe. Do not harvest un-capped honey.
    Here's a pretty frame that's capped:



    Time to uncap all that pretty work! We use a heated uncapping knife made just for the job:





    Load the now-uncapped frames into the extractor....




    ...turn the crank and spin/sling out the goods... (The camera froze the frames in the picture, but they spin around really fast.)



    ...through a micro-strainer on a bucket...



    Here's the whole process in the works...uncapped frames waiting to be loaded and spun out, spinning a frame set in the extractor, and honey dripping through the strainers into the buckets...



    (Whew....I'm getting tired here)
    Next, let the honey sit for a day so that the air bubbles will rise to the top to be skimmed off...(makes for clear, pretty, honey)



    Next, buy a bunch of jars....wash the jars...DRY the jars (remember about water in honey)...and then, finally, fill the jars...



    Put lables on the jars (required by law if it is sold) ....



    ...and just enjoy one of the prettiest and finest-tasting things ever made by bugs!




    Be nice to bees!
    Last edited by ol' Feller; 06-21-2011 at 07:39 PM.
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  2. #2
    River Basser CREEK
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    mmmmmmm LOOKS GOOD! I've always wondered about honey and the process of harvesting it. Thanks for posting!

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    River Basser STREAM Gator Hater's Avatar
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    Great read. Thanks for sharing.
    Gator Hater

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    River Basser STREAM willyredeemed's Avatar
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    what a great read!

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    River Basser CREEK ihadmail's Avatar
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    That sure is some fine looking honey. We used a much simpler process to harvest our bee box, but we were only harvesting for personal use.It's interesting seeing how the professionals do it. What vendors sell your honey, or do you just sell it yourself?

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    River Basser RIVER BASSIN FLOOD ol' Feller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ihadmail View Post
    It's interesting seeing how the professionals do it. What vendors sell your honey, or do you just sell it yourself?
    LOL! No "professionals" here! ... It's just me and a couple friends at work, we started messing with bees a few years ago....it's a hobby that we finally got to where it pays for itself.
    I just enjoy messing with the bees, don't really have the time to do it, but it's just a hobby.

    We sell the honey over-the-counter here at work...local folks have come to know that we do this and we start getting a few calls about this time of year from some ready to stock up....it's usually gone by Sept/Oct.
    Last edited by ol' Feller; 06-21-2011 at 05:01 PM.
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    RB State Rep RIVER BASSIN FLOOD Jump n Fish's Avatar
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    That is awesome. If I ever get me a piece of land where I can try this, I'm going for it.

    I know you probably have no problem selling all that stuff local in a hurry, but if you're ever interested in shipping some of that stuff, let me know. I'd gladly mail you a check for a few jars + your time and money to ship it. Got me craving honey something fierce right now.
    Last edited by Jump n Fish; 06-21-2011 at 05:42 PM.

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    Merlin of River Bassin DB RIVER BASSIN FLOOD Boyscout's Avatar
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    John, that is facinating. Thanks for sharing!

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    River Basser RAGING RIVER Bamaspot's Avatar
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    Great post!
    Honey is truly a miracle food.
    Think I'll go make me some biscuits.
    Do not tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish.
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    River Basser RIVER castapotamus's Avatar
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    THANK YOU.

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    River Basser STREAM deadeye's Avatar
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    What is your jar to sting ratio?

    Way too cool there Mr. OF. You are providing the great people of your area a natural defense against allergies as well!

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    River Basser RIVER creekfreak's Avatar
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    Great post right there!
    The two most important jobs you will have as a man are husband and father, and you better be proficient at both.
    David Cutcliff.

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    River Basser RIVER BASSIN FLOOD ol' Feller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jump n Fish View Post
    If I ever get me a piece of land where I can try this, I'm going for it.
    Shoot dude, you don't need land..there's a restaurant in downtown Charlotte NC that does their own honey, they have their hives on top of one of the high-rise buildings. Honey bees will travel a mile or so to get what they're after, if you can provide them a "house", they can pretty much take care of their part.
    There was a guy up in Maine who was given an empty bee hive, he went out and caught a swarm and started with the one bee hive....his name is Burt. http://www.burtsbees.com/c/story/history/
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    RB Admin RIVER BASSIN FLOOD
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    Ol' Feller's honey will spoil you forever. I was never a big honey person until Ol' Feller gave me a jar of his. Awesome stuff!

    Great pictures, OF!

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    RB State Rep RIVER BASSIN FLOOD Jump n Fish's Avatar
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    Hmm, might hafta check to see if the neighbors care if I have a dozen bee boxes in the backyard. Do you build those yourself, or can they be bought cheap enough not to put in the labor of building one?

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