The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Harvesting honey from a Warre hive

Honey jars

Hive conversion successAs Mark mentioned yesterday, we finally harvested honey for the first time in six years. The long-time reader might assume that means my conversion back to Langstroth hives while keeping my chemical-free strain of bees going was just what the doctor ordered. And you wouldn't necessarily be wrong...but you wouldn't necessarily be right either.

The jury's still out on which hive system makes more honey because I harvested about the same amount from both the primarily Langstroth hive and from the Warre hive. In both cases, the honey overload is due to an excellent nectar season that culminated in our basswood blooming fully for the first time in nearly a decade. Lots of nectar makes lots of honey, regardless of the type of hive.

Bee brood

So how much honey did I take? It's complicated. Initially, I planned to harvest the one remaining Warre box on top of our converted hive since I'd found lots of brood and eggs lower down on Langstroth frames and knew the queen had vacated the attic. But once I got that box home and started pulling out the frames, I discovered that there was still brood at the bottom. So I harvested three full frames of honey and went to put the Warre box back with its brood intact.

But I really wanted to call that conversion complete, so I put the box back on the other hive instead of the one I originally took it from. And while I was in there, I discovered that the Warre hive had a very full box of capped honey as well as at least two other quite heavy boxes. So I snagged the former rather than towering their living quarters over my head.

Low-tech honey extraction

To cut a long story short, I think I ended up harvesting about 1.3 Warre boxes in the end. Rather than going high-tech, I simply squeezed each frame into a strainer and ended up with about 2.5 gallons of honey. A very sweet reward after years of trial and error!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Oh the honey looks amazing!
Comment by Shanda Sat Jul 16 07:35:52 2016
You meant 2.5 quarts, right? Bet the harvest was suh-weet! Congrats.
Comment by Kris Sat Jul 16 17:42:24 2016
Kris --- Nope, 2.5 gallons (10 quarts). Actually, it was closer to 11 quarts, but I rounded down. :-) (The photos are from the first round of squeezing only.)
Comment by anna Sat Jul 16 17:51:53 2016
Holy Moly that is a LOT of honey!! Wow! That's some payoff worth waiting for.
Comment by Kris Sun Jul 17 16:58:49 2016

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