How our honey makes it from the flowers, to the bees, to your jar. It's a simple, natural and beautiful process.
There is no doubt that honey is an amazing product. One of the things that makes honey an amazing product is that it is 100% completely natural. If humans didn't eat honey, the bees would still make it. If grocery stores didn't sell honey, bees would still make it. If there were no such things as a peanut butter and honey sandwich, bees would still make it. Bees make honey. They feed it to their young, they eat it, they might rob it from another hive; and they survive off of it through the winter.
For some unknown reason bees make a surplus. They make extra. They make more than they need. If they didn't make extra honey, beekeepers wouldn't take it. Beekeepers care about their bees and if the bees needed all the honey that they made, the beekeepers would let them have it. But they make a surplus. And when the bees make a surplus ... it's time to extract.
Busy, busy Bees!
Extraction time for us is usually late July. Extraction time for us means hot weather and long hours. It means a sore back and sticky hands. It means Jeff pulling honey and Joel and Pop spinning it.
Although Jeff is a pretty nice guy, don't ask him for any favors at this time of the year. He is way too busy. Jeff goes through every frame in every honey super. There are nine frames in each super, and 3-5 hours per hive. You do the math on 100 or so hives. Jeff is busy. Don't ask him to walk your dog, don't ask him out to a movie, he's in the beeyard checking frames. He's checking to see if the honey is "ripe."
A Mini History Lesson
Where does honey come from? You should know. Nectar from flowers. Nectar is pretty liquidy, it flows like water. But honey doesn't flow like that. It's thicker. Bees collect flower nectar and they bring it back to their hive. They mix it with enzymes from their body and deposit it into the hexagonal cells in the frames. They evaporate it. They position themselves throughout the hive and they beat their wings. The current air they create runs through the hive and evaporates the moisture from the nectar. When enough moisture has been evaporated from the nectar, the bees put a little wax cap on the cell and the honey is "ripe." That's what Jeff is looking for. He pulls off the ripe frames from the hive and brings them to the honey house. Joel and Pop take it from there.
Now it's time to get the honey out of the frames and into your jar! Extraction time. You get bored sometimes right? Sure, we all do. Have you ever watched a washing machine on the spin cycle? Have you noticed it spins so fast that all the clothes are stuck up against the side? That's centrifugal force. And a honey extractor works the same way. After removing the wax caps, Pop and Joel load honey frames into the extractor. Once loaded, we turn the extractor on and let it spin. Slowly at first. Gradually increasing the speed. We get it going real fast. The honey flies out. It hits the walls of the extractor and slides down. It collects in the bottom. It looks like liquid gold.
We open the honey gate and the honey flows out. We strain it and we bottle it. That's all we do. We don't heat it the way the supermarket honey is heated. We don't overly filter it either. It has all the good stuff. It's natural. It's raw honey. It's not only delicious, it's also good for you. It's the way the bees like it. It's the way we like it too.