Reub's journey

28 August 2011

Honey Night

A few weeks ago when one of John's colleagues asked him if we wanted to come to "Honey Night" (isn't that a good pair of words) I was enthusiastic, but last night after a long day I wasn't sure I had the energy.

It sounded like fun, so I went anyway: a work party, thrown by 3 beekeepers, to help with honey extraction. It had to happen at night because that's when the bees are mostly at home in their parts of the hives, and inactive with the frames filled with honeycomb ready to be harvested.

The "supers" (boxes filled with frames of honeycomb) were stacked in the yard.

There was an assembly line of activities to get the job done. Here are a couple of experts slicing the wax caps off of the honey comb.

They are using heated knives to slice through the very top.

Gosh, those guys were really good at what they did, making tamale-like rolls of beeswax.

I tried my hand at it, and although I wasn't as good as they were, I tried not to waste honey by digging too deep. A honeybee only lives about 7 weeks, works constantly, and makes a total of just one-twelfth teaspoon of honey in her entire lifetime. Mustn't waste that honey!!

Look! This big cell contained a queen, long-gone. The 1st queen bee to emerge goes about murdering all of the other candidates. Was this that bee? I don't know.

The frames are then put in a centrifuge to extract the honey. After hand-cranking it for awhile you have to switch the frame around and do the opposite side. This was fun too, but only because we all took turns. Otherwise it would be really tedious.

The honey pours out of the bottom of the centrifuge.

And then it's emptied into a barrel.

In the barrel it is collected in a cheesecloth bag.
And here is John, squeezing the bag to get all of the honey out. Only a fistful of wax remains after all of that.

Our payment for this lovely night of work is a jar of honey. Perfect. I'm so glad I went to Honey Night.


  1. wow. lots of work. and the meaning of 'queen bee' just took on a harsher tone! :)

  2. There could really be nothing wrong with any event named "Honey Night" could there?

    What a fascinating way to spend the evening. I'd love to find a beekeepeer in my area who needs help harvesting his honey!

    Thank you for taking us along with you, Kerry.

  3. I'll send this to a beekeeping friend of mine down here in Eugene. He's a hobbyist at it, and, so far as I know, has never been to such an event.

  4. Aha!! So that is how honey is made! Hooray for the bees and the humans who put in that kind of work.

  5. Wow, I had no idea it was so labor-intensive, for the bees and for the beekeepers, even though I did interview a beekeeper in the 1960s.
    Thanks for visiting my blog via Friko's. She's one of my favorite people I've never met.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  6. twg: Queen bees are not nice people.

    Jo: I LOVE that they called it "honey night!"

    Snow: This was a very good way for the keepers to get an enormous amount of work done, most of it by other people, while drinking wine.

    B&B: Yaaaaay! I did slack off now and then, however.

    Kay: You interviewed a beekeeper in the 1960s? I wonder what has changed since that time.

  7. Dog-Gawn fascinating. I would love to stick my head in that honey barrel!! I guess it may tarnish the honey though but still, mmm mmmmm!!!!

    Was it hard slicing and not taking too much honey off the comb?

    A 7 week life and constantly working for little reward? What do humans have to complain about...!

  8. Sorry, that anonymous was me, Saul :)

  9. Making honey? I can't think of a better way to spend an evening, can you? Literally and metaphorically - wow! Well done.

  10. And nobody got stung?

    I'd love a jar of your honey.

  11. Saul, that knife was sizzling hot. It had a cord on it: an electric knife! It sliced right through with steady pressure, not difficult. Really easy to slice too deep though. I was slow, but exceedingly careful, and when one of the beekeepers walked by,he actually thanked me for not gauging deeply. It was a super cool job, my favorite.

    Reya, literally and metaphorically, yes. Both.

    Friko, nobody was stung! I didn't see a single bee.


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