Beekeeper Explains Process of Collecting Honey
Six months after first setting up an apiary—or bee yard—Frankfort's Jeff Bulthuis has jarred 12 gallons of honey. He uses a machine called an "extruder" to spin sliced open honey combs and collects honey in buckets before straining it.
After setting up an apiary for the first time, even the most novice beekeepers are fee to sit back and let their bees do their thing.
True to a natural rite of passage, bees fly from hive boxes, collect pollen and return to fill up tiny storage compartments called honey combs.
Then, the process of harvesting honey begins.
“You see if these frames are full of honey,” Frankfort beekepper Jeff Bulthuis said. “If they are, we set them on this little tray. It’s kind of got a little strainer underneath, so to speak. And we take basically an electric butter knife—when they fill it with honey, they fill the comb and then they put a little wax covering over the comb.
“By looking at, you can say, ‘This is all capped honey. This is ready to go.’ We put it on here with a plug-in hot knife and just slice off the top layer of the comb.
“The comb falls into here—some people like to keep they comb. It’s just wax. They melt it down and make stuff out of it. We’re not too interested in that. Then, we take these frames that are open, so the honey is exposed. This is called an ‘extruder.’
“What you do is you put one frame here and you put the other frame over here. Then, you turn the handle and spin it. It shoots the honey out. You collect it. Usually, we’ve got three buckets set up. We filter it three times. By the third filter, it’s table-ready.”
Toast a slice of bread and enjoy.
Bulthuis is a member of the Will County Beekeepers Association.
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