Tuesday saw the culmination of another year’s hard work – spinning our honey! This is the first time we’ve extracted honey from the Connaught House hives so it’s pretty exciting and we were dying to know what it would taste like.
Dan, Laura and I went to the Bee Collective where the wonderful Caroline helped us through the process. She first explained how we needed to scrape off the wax from the cappings the bees put on each cell once it’s filled with honey. We did this using a little metal scraper, holding the frames upright so the honey didn’t ooze out and putting the scrapings into the bucket (more on that later).
While Laura and I played it safe with some relatively normal looking frames, Dan went for the extreme one! It was actually surprisingly relaxing in an odd, monotonous way and didn’t take too long at all.
And this is what a finished frame looks like, with all the wax scraped off and ready to go into the centrifuge:
Here they are in the centrifuge, where they’re spun at high speed so all the honey is extracted and falls down to the bottom.
While we were waiting for the centrifuge to do its magic, it was back to the wax scrapings. These are kept and then used to make candles or cosmetics (like lipstick) so we needed to clean all the honey off them so they were ready to go. We rinsed them out twice, then the little piles of wax (each pile is from about three frames) are left to dry.
And then it was the moment we’d all been waiting for – actually tasting our new honey! Here it is being poured out of the centrifuge – you can see that there are still some little flecks of wax (and other things, like little bits of bee and pollen etc.) in the honey. The double layered sieve takes care of all that!
I don’t think any honey has ever been so attentively documented!
And here it is! The finished product! It tasted absolutely delicious and actually somewhat different to the Passfield Hall honey so it will be really interesting to taste them side by side. That honey has already been processed for us by other volunteers, so we’ll be able to offer ‘single blend’ honey this year – very fancy!
What happens now is that the honey needs a few days to rest before we put it into the normal sized jars (to let all the air bubbles come to the surface etc.). We’ll be heading back down to the Bee Collective in September to do that (same process as last year).
We also had the chance to taste some of the other honey that the Bee Collective has helped to process, including some honey (top right of the picture) which comes from royal beehives (I believe at Buckingham Palace) and is a creamed honey. Creamed honey is just regular runny honey that is whipped using a large paddle (and when made commercially is also pasteurised).
So a big thank you to Caroline at the Bee Collective for making our honey processing so enjoyable this year – we’re looking forward to putting it into jars and then being able to get it out to you all to eat! And then obviously massive thanks to Luke, Maddie and everyone at Urban and Community Beekeeping who has helped us this year to keep our bees happy and healthy. We couldn’t have done it without you.