We have decided to start harvesting the honey this coming week. The initial phase is the Big Prep which entails clearing out the workshop, washing the floors and installing all the equipment including the spinning machine, the table for scraping the wax off the frames and the honey buckets which all have to be thoroughly cleaned before we start (they are stored in a shipping container during the winter, but even so, they still need a proper clean). We also need to sweep out the root cellar.
Meanwhile we will start removing the frames from the hives. That is a mammoth task in itself. We have to choose a day when the bees are out foraging: warm, dry, sunny and wind still. There haven't been many of those recently! Then we prepare the smoker and get kitted up. The bees do not like us raiding their hives and they can be aggressive so it's a good idea to wear a thick layer of clothing (or two) under the bee suit. We also check the suits for any rips or tears, especially the gloves and the sleeves.
The frames are removed from the hives during the day but the de-waxing and the spinning takes place during the night when there are no bees around. It is also cooler. We get ourselves suitably organised: tea/coffee, biscuits, sandwiches, music/radio, comfy shoes. In the past we have worked through consecutive two nights. Last year Tom helped but he will be in Norway. Maybe Fred will help.
Once the honey is spun from the frames we store it in the root cellar for 3-4 days while the crystallization process is managed. This involves stirring the honey occasionally until it starts to thicken and it becomes lighter in colour.