|As a reminder, here's the overall process we're working with.|
|We did the honey by a whatchagot version of the crush and strain method, since we were working mainly with brood frames, which meant honey around the outside, brood in the middle. That is, we didn't want to extract whole frames, just select chunks of comb. Our setup is two buckets; the top one has holes in the bottom. A t-shirt goes between the buckets to strain out chunks of comb, etc., and the comb gets mashed with our hands and goes in the top bucket. In this particular case, the bottom bucket also had holes, so the whole setup is in a cookie sheet for secondary containment.|
|Our final yield was about 4.5 quarts of honey, or about 14 lbs. (There is a quart jar-and-a-half missing from this photo because Katie is part pooh bear.) Note that if you are extracting uncapped honey (as you may be doing during a bee reset), check the refractive index of it to make sure it has a low enough moisture content that it won't ferment in the jar. Below 20% is normally the standard, but other sources say 17-18% is a better target. Those other sources also say that if it's a little higher moisture content than that, keeping it below 50 °F can also prevent spoilage.|
|Finally, sterilizing the boxes. Some say to heat everything, especially the corners and other nooks and crannies, until the wood is a uniform deep coffee brown color. The bacteria that causes EFB (Melissococcus plutonius, although it was originally called Bacillus pluton) is inactivated above 65 °C, which isn't enough to turn the wood brown. But heating until the wood is a little charred is an easy visual to make sure we're in the safe zone for killing EFB (and any other diseases that might be hanging around). Sort of like roasting a giant wooden square marshmallow, but from the inside (the paint on the outside doesn't need to change color). By far, the easiest and fastest way to do this would be with a propane blow torch. But if you don't like the thought of all those difficult-to-recyclable propane canisters, you can get a similar effect with a little alcohol-fired camp stove. Definitely not the OSHA-recommended protocol, but it works!|
|Once all the parts the bees have touched are uniformly charred (minus the extra-resinous parts, which saw the same heat, but didn't turn color), we should be good to re-use the box.|
How do you extract your honey and sterilize your hive boxes?