I once again got buried in the fall and early winter, so the 2016 harvest achievement is going up on the blog in Jan. 2017. The university life, honey harvest, and winter preparations always make for a life fully lived! Now in post-holiday mode, I see that I did not follow through on showing the extracting room at an operational point. Here are a couple of photos I took once there was honey in the system.
Behold the old-time Woodman extractors refurbished and newly baptized by honey!
We've always done the pit and pump method of draining our extractors into a sump and up into a clarifier, so we did the same thing at my place. The pump on the floor is an ancient Woodman sliding vane pump:
It all came together decently for this harvest. I had a few bugs to learn about and the box handling wasn't silky smooth, but I like the setup overall. The uncapper still needs some adjustment, and the cappings melter will take more time to learn to operate very efficiently. I was impressed with how little heat was needed to melt the cappings on the top of the melter and allow the honey to flow into the sump unharmed. Most melters are known for darkening the honey to at least some degree and degrading the flavor to some extent. A person needs several hundred hives at a minimum for this melter from Kelley to be worth the investment--it takes more honey to fill the cappings tank to its operating level than most hobby beekeepers will produce in a year.
Regardless of the learning curve with a new system, I was extremely happy to extract at the Mount Vernon property. The traveling hurdle of harvest season has now been removed from one of the busiest times of year! May everything work even better--and for the sake of a larger yield--in 2017!
One of the last pieces of the extracting equation came home a couple of days ago. An uncapper and stand came with the 50-frame Woodman that we refurbished over the winter. I'll post the completed extracting line sometime soon, but a fair bit is visible in the last picture with the newly blasted and powder coated stand. There was a little re-engineering to make the back end of the stand long enough to be compatible with the cappings melter, and we added a couple of retainers to contain the overflow from the top of the tray. Otherwise, it was just really ugly and needed a face-lift. The "before" pictures don't really show the full extent of the grime that needed vanquished.
And here is the shiny, much more sanitary result! Many thanks to The Powder Shop for a one-day turnaround despite a busy schedule. I apparently had good fortune in choosing John Deere black for the powder coat.
I'll include the mounted uncapper within the next couple of posts.
The extracting space continues to take shape. I'm looking forward to having the honey flow soon. In the meanwhile, my son decided the pit for the sump tank is a good place for his personal workshop:
We still like to melt the cappings rather than spin them, so here's the new melter unit. It's a Kelley model known for being a little touchy, but it produces very high quality wax blocks:
Now I just need to get the rest of the equipment lined up and connected. We also have an old uncapper stand that still needs blasted and coated--that will probably be the last piece of equipment to bring in before the hot water plumbing is possible. It will be pretty awesome when those wires coming out of the wall and ceiling are actually hooked into the equipment and ready to roll.
After an earlier post about a swarm on the ground, I received word of an even more precariously positioned colony in search of a home. This one settled in the road just outside of the local Mercy Care clinic in Mount Vernon. Someone on their way for a blood test posted the vulnerable bees on Facebook, and one of those folks texted me regarding their whereabouts. While I don't go chasing many swarms, especially after July 1, I decided to take a box and prevent a lot of crushed exoskeletons. I saw the queen in this one and put her in the box, so hopefully she has already begun to lay eggs.
They are now setting up house in front of my farmstand along the highway. I should at least gain a box of drawn foundation, even if it is too late to hope for honey.
On the building front, the transformation continues. The wall outlets are installed and the steel is up! The walk-in doors and equipment alignment are up next.
Progress is speeding along with the finished space in the honey house! Here are a few photo updates, and I'm very happy to watch it near completion because the honey is really flowing into the boxes!
The two doors mirror each other for easy drive through and access from inside and outside the building.
And as of yesterday morning, the foam is in the walls!
The metal will go on the walls this week, and then we'll start plumbing and positioning equipment for extracting. It will be a great week!