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honey processing -

part 2

From the humble bee collecting nectar to a jar of golden delicious honey - there's a lot that goes on!

Beekeepers produce RAW honey from their colonies of honeybees - this simply means there is definitely nothing added and nothing taken away (save for some bits of wax and the odd bee leg). 

The honey we put into jars is as nature intended it to be with all of the benefits it gives us.

Read on to find out more ...

Now it's the Beekeepers turn ...

The bees always produce more honey than they need and it's this surplus of honey that's the beekeepers share!

You will have already learnt in Part 1 about how the bees make our delicious honey ... now learn about how we get it into jars for you to enjoy!

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At certain times of the year, beekeepers will remove the HONEY SUPERS from their hives in preparation for extracting the honey from them.  To do this, we must first make sure that all of the bees are removed from a super.


To drive the bees down from a super, beekeepers will add a CLEARING BOARD in-between the super and the brood box.

Because the bees in the super then become separated from the colony, they panic and flood down through the hole in the clearing board back into the brood box underneath. 

The clearing board doesn't prevent the bees from returning, but makes it very difficult for them to return.  It can sometimes be overnight before the bees have vacated the super but can also happen with the hour.

As soon as the bees have moved out of the super, it can be removed from the hive for extraction.


Before we can begin to extract the honey, we first need to remove the wax cappings from the honeycomb.  There are several methods of doing this from UNCAPPING FORKS to HEATED KNIVES.  Either way, these wax cappings are prize wax and are usually saved by the beekeeper.  After cleaning, they are perfect for home-made cosmetics.


This is the messy part!  Using our chosen method, each frame is systematically uncapped before being added into the extractor. 

This is usually done over an UNCAPPING TANK that collects the wax cappings and any honey that might drip from the frame.

As we are processing a food for human consumption, this is performed under hygienic conditions and with appropriate food hygiene clothing.


The uncapped frames are then placed into the extractor.  It is essential to maintain an equal balance when positioning frames as the extractor will develop a violent shaking action when the spinning load in unbalanced (just like when a load is unbalanced in a washing machine spin cycle!).

The honey that spins out of the honeycomb runs down the sides of the extractor and collects in the bottom.

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The honey collected in the bottom of the extractor, is released to pour into honey buckets for storage.  

As the honey is released, it passes through course and medium filters to remove any wax debris and the odd bee leg.

Some beekeepers will also pass the honey through a much finer filter to get the honey as clean as possible.  This doesn't remove the all important pollen that gives the honey it's unique flavours.



Now that we have our honey filtered and in a presentable state, it's time for it to go into jars!

Before using our jars, they all get a full cycle wash in the dishwasher so as to make sure the jar is as clean and sterile as can be.

After initially filling the jar, each jar is then weighed to ensure the correct weight of honey is in the jar.



So as to ensure that every jar has the correct weight of honey inside, each jar is individually weighed to ensure the weight of honey inside the jar matches the declared weight on the label.

In the eyes of the law, it's just as bad to overfill a jar as it is to underfill a jar!


The final task is to carefully apply the description labels to the jar.  We also apply tamper evident labels to make sure the jar has not been opened since we sealed it.  Each jar will also have a Batch Number and Best Before Date.  

The information on the label is governed by law and there are only certain words we can use.  We can't even legally call it Honey if the water content in the honey is above 20%!

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