A sticky business
No matter how careful I am, when I finish processing honey frames, every surface is sticky.
For those of you who have never seen honey in its original state but only encounter it in nice jars on the grocery sotre shelf; this is what it looks like.
On the far left is a frame of capped honey. The bees put a lid of wax on each cell containing honey that is sufficiently ‘dried’–amazingly they are so accurate in their assessment–too much water content will lead to mold, too little and it becomes a solid. The frame you see is comb honey which I cut into squares—the easiest to process as it involves a spatula and some containers and a flat surface–the large lipped cookie sheet. The turquoise handle thing has teeth which I use to scrape off the caps of the honey I plan to process into liquid.
I hold the frame up, scrape off the honey and wax into the cake pan, then dump the contents of the cake pan into the sieve/strainer perched on the bucket. There is a honey gate at the bottom used to dispense the honey into jars.
The kitchen towels help to contain the mess—the bees were quite extravagant in their storage efforts–some of the frames were easily two inches thick.
The wax is then cleaned first by melting the wax in the oven; then it is filtered through some cloth. I use a small crock pot I bought for 8 dollars, some screen and some sheer curtain fabric.
If I had an extractor, my process would be different—and I’ve had offers for the use of an extractor—this is quite labor intensive—as it is for the bees. I bottle the honey as this is not a food grade bucket—but I can assure it is clean, washed with hot soapy water at the end and beginning of every honey processing project.
Some honey is put into the refrigerator to crystallize for whipped honey–another highly labor intensive project.