Honey Harvest – Crush & Strain

Not strictly fermentation related, but I recently had the pleasure of joining a friend for a sizeable honey harvest from his year-old beehive. Steve and I have been brewing (and drinking) beer together for a number of years, and when he decided to put a hive in his back yard last year, I was between bees myself and probably too eager to help.

We left them alone last fall, partly because they were a first year hive and partly because we’re terrible at scheduling, but it was obviously all for the best. That hive is incredibly strong, and we’d identified an entire box of honey on top earlier this season. And then we had trouble scheduling time for a month or so, so we weren’t sure what would be left.

Lo and behold! We’ve had a great flow this spring the entire top box was untouched. Click any of these photos to open up a slideshow of harvesting honey for cut comb and a technique known – descriptively – as “crush and strain.”

Inner shot of hive
Here’s a full frame of honey. We harvested ten of these. In May. Oh yeah.
Lifting a frame of honey
Here’s Steve pulling one of these beautiful frames of capped honey out.
Storing in the mash tun.
This is Steve’s mash tun made from a converted cooler, but it doubles nicely as a secure storage area for the frames. The bees will try to reclaim it if left where they can get it.
Frame of honey inside
Crush and Strain is basically what it sounds like. You cut the honeycomb free of the frame, then crush it up. Cutting, Picture A.
Cutting the honeycomb out of the frame
Cutting the comb free, Picture B.
Final cutting the comb free picture
Cutting the comb free, Picture C.
Honeycomb in a large dish to be crushed
Cutting the comb into a large dish means it’s time to crush!
Liquid honey with comb still in it
An amazing amount of honey comes free from the comb when you attack it with a potato masher.
Mashed honeycomb and honey in a straining basket
This is a five gallon brewing bucket with an insert in it that has a fine mesh screen. The honey drips through, leaving the comb behind.
Cut comb honey
Steve’s wife Nina asked for cut comb honey, which is just what it sounds like.

We got around 35 pounds in total. Some of this will become mead (more on that in another post) and some will just be used to sweeten our lives.

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