A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Beekeeping Course: Week 8

This week was the last session of the Beekeeping course I've been doing and I must admit I will miss it. Again the weather turned out nice so we started by going straight to the apiary after we had all suited up. This week, rather than the tutor leading the inspection, we were leading it.
The person who went first started by giving a puff of smoke across the entrance of the hive and then after letting the smoke circulate opened the hive. Once inside we checked the brood comb for signs that there was a laying Queen; within a couple of frames we had seen eggs and brood but no Queen. Though the Queen wasn't sighted it was no reason for alarm as the presence of eggs showed that she was there somewhere. After everyone had removed a few frames and inspected them we returned to the classroom for the last stage of the course.

After a break we started on extracting honey from the frames.The first step is to remove the wax cappings which is done with a uncapping fork, a heated knife or just a sharp knife! You can spend a lot of money on extraction so we were shown a way of reducing the cost slightly by making your own extracting tray; all that was needed was a bucket with a length of wood across the diameter of the bucket with a hole large enough for the edge of a frame to sit in securely. With the frame securely in the holder we were then shown how to remove the wax cappings; using a sharp knife and a gentle sawing motion downwards just under the surface of the wax. When all the cappings were removed from one side we were asked if anyone else wanted a go. Two people had a go before me. I managed to get the cappings off without too much hassle. Next we loaded the extractor; basically a stainless steel drum with a motor that spins the frames round causing the honey to be removed using centrifugal force. When the extractor had run for about five minutes it was lifted onto the table. Once on the table a valve was opened and the honey was able to flow into the jar that was placed under the valve. The honey was then given a chance to settle before we were given the opportunity to taste it! The taste of fresh honey differs considerably to shop bought honey, this one had a floral taste but with citrus in there as well. At least that's what I thought!

The very last bit of the classroom session was taking about what further courses are available and the path to being a master beekeeper. I have already talked about these in an earlier post so won't repeat myself. Unfortunately I was working that night so couldn't stay around and chat after but if by chance anyone from the course is reading this then please comment and I'll do my best to stay in touch.