Regular inspection of your hives is recommended to determine if the honeycombs have been removed. You can tell if honey is ready by checking if the honeycombs have been filled with honey and sealed with beeswax. You can remove the wax caps that cover the combs’ exterior with a steamer knife before you place them in an extractor.
An extractor, whether electric or hand wound is simply a centrifugal crank that spins the honey out of the combs using centrifugal force. After the honey has been extracted and strained it is left to rise to the surface to release air bubbles. The honey is ready to be bottled once all wax and bubbles have been removed from the surface. This is all you need to harvest honey.
The honey bee is the real hard worker. This is what we can do if we are able to see the honey bee fly from the hive to the flower, and back again. Bees communicate distance and direction to nectar sources by performing a “bee dancing” before taking off. Once she understands the directions of the bee dance, she will head off knowing exactly where to go.
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Once she has found the nectar source and navigated to a flower, she will draw the nectar from the flower using her long tongue “proboscis”. She will store as much nectar as she can (nearly her body weight) in her “honey stomach”. Honeybees have two stomachs: a honey and regular. After her honey stomach is full, she will mark the flowers with her scent and then return to the hive. She’ll return to the hive and pass the nectar to the worker bees via regurgitation.
After she has passed her nectar load to the worker bees she returns to her job. She cleans, combs and cares for her flower before she goes back to work. She will tirelessly collect nectar, bring it back to the bees, clean herself, and then set out to find more. This is her role in the continuous honey-making lifecycle. Let’s now turn our attention to the worker bees who have ingested her reconstituted nectar. Because enzymes in their stomachs break down complex sugars into simple sugars, they will continue to do this for many times. This nectar is then processed by worker bees in the same way until it reaches the desired quality.
The worker bees then fill the comb cells with the mixture and fan their wings to evaporate any remaining moisture. Nectar is made up of 80% water. After it has evaporated to 20% concentrated sugars, it becomes honey. The worker bees can place wax caps over the combs in order to preserve the honey for long-term storage. This is where the beginner beekeeper can get back into the process. It is a good idea to inspect your hives on a regular basis to check for honeycombs. You can tell if honey is ready by checking if the honeycombs have been filled with honey and sealed with beeswax. You can remove the wax caps that cover the combs’ exterior with a steam knife, before you place the combs in an extractor.