What a summer we have had!  Some incredibly hot days followed by rain, lots and lots of rain!  Which many of you may know is not good for our bees.  Just like most humans, bees would rather stay inside on cold and dreary days and tend to their honeycomb building.  Bees generally leave the hive on mild, warm days when the temperature is up around 12 – 13 degrees. So it was with fingers and toes crossed that we opened up our first hive to extract some honey. Luckily Leithfield Area School in North Canterbury had a full honey box.  The students there have been very diligent about making various bee baths to ensure a clean water supply and there is plenty of bee friendly foraging available in the area. 

The great thing about showing the students about honey extraction is that it is such a hands-on lesson.  Ideally we would do this on a really warm day to make it all a bit easier; as there are less bees on the honey frames when we are removing them from the hive, but also so that the honey comes out of the frames more readily if it is warm.

We show the students how we have to uncap the wax from the honeycomb so that the honey will come out and they get to do it as well.  Many of the students said how satisfying it was to do this as it makes an awesome sound as the wax breaks and the smell is incredible. 

A student uncapping the honey frame before extraction.

They even get to smell some honeycomb that didn’t get the protective wax cover put on it.  I think that smell will always remind them of how useful wax is in giving the honey a protective layer and what an amazing by-product of the hive wax is. 

Then the real work begins, I mean learning!  The students have to take turns spinning the extractor to help get the honey out of the comb.  This stage can certainly take a while (depending on how warm the day is) so it really is a case of many hands make light work. 

Students and their teacher taking the honey for a spin!

Finally, we pour it into our collection bucket and then into a jar for the class to create something with their very own honey. Luckily for us the day we did this at Broadfields some of the students had made some pear crumble which was beautiful with some honey drizzled on top.  

If  you’d love for your school or students to experience harvesting their very own honey and looking after a hive, then get in contact today.  We’d love to hear from you.