Sunday, September 23, 2007

First honey harvest

Okay - so I'm sure you have all had enough of reading about my weed war... sorry I haven't been updating lately - life seems to have been full of things other than Japanese agriculture!
Finally today the weather and the weekend worked well together and we were able to take part in some honey harvesting. Unfortunately (like so many things lately) the hives were not our own hives, but a friend's who started a year earlier than us. We need to wait until this time next year to harvest the first of our honey.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience - and we did get to take home some delicious honey!
One major difference between European (?) bees and Japanese honey bees is the way they build their honey comb. With the Japanese bees no frames are used within the hive and therefore the honey comb is literally cut out. Depending on how full the hive is - between one and three boxes can be removed at a time and new, empty boxes added to the bottom of the hive to replace them. A big bread knife is used to slice through the comb so the top box(es) can be removed.
Because the comb is not in frames it is not possible to spin it in an extractor to remove the honey. Instead the comb is cut up into reasonably small pieces and then left in a sieve to drip through. A little more time consuming, but the result is delicious!
Tomorrow we are off across the road to the community center to remove the (hopefully) big nests that some bees have spent the last few years building under the floor. People think we are doing a great community service..... our stomachs tell us otherwise! I'm hoping the space under the floor is reasonably big, otherwise it will be me going under to try and cut it out rather than my husband (who is 190cm tall and therefore has a little trouble getting into small spaces!).
My uncle and aunty arrive on Tuesday night so hopefully we will be doing a few more interesting things to write about.

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