The final FBI beekeeping class was about the products that the hive produces. This class was taught by Bruce and Jeannette Greiner. They taught how to get the most out of a hive and what to do with the products from the hive.
Honey is probably what most people think of when they think about the products of a beehive. In order to have honey a beekeeper must remove the honey from the hive. When picking a day to harvest honey, a beekeeper will pick a nice, sunny afternoon. Most beekeepers wear gloves and at least a jacket and veil when extracting honey. It is also good to have a smoker, bee brush, extra covers, and maybe even fumigant and fume boards during honey harvesting. Smoking the bees lightly will help calm the bees down, but it also makes the bees eat the honey that you are trying to harvest. When selecting what honey should be harvested, how much of honey that is capped on the frame is the main consideration. At least eighty percent of the honey on a frame should be capped. Capped honey is a good sign that the honey is ready to be extracted, but this is not always true. Some uncapped honey may be dehydrated enough to harvest and some capped honey may not be dehydrated enough to harvest. The moisture content of the honey should be 18.6 percent moisture in order for the honey not to ferment. A refractometer can be used to measure the moisture content in honey. Another less exact way to measure if uncapped honey is dehydrated enough to harvest is to tap the frame of honey against a hard surface. If the honey drips out, it is not dehydrated enough to harvest. If the honey does not drip out, it is most likely dehydrated enough to harvest. When harvesting honey, the beekeeper goes systematically through the super and removes any frames that he wants to extract the honey from. The beekeeper makes sure the bees are off the frames then places the frames into an empty super. Once the beekeeper is done harvesting the honey, he stores the honey in a safe place until he can extract. To extract honey a beekeeper either uses an extractor or the crush and strain method. Extracting honey using and extractor is the more common method. An extractor is a large cylinder that holds frames and spins them to remove the honey. Before placing the frames in the extractor, the beekeeper removes the cappings. A beekeeper uses an uncapping knife, cappings scratcher, or normal knife to remove the cappings. Then the beekeeper places the frames in the extractor and spins them until all the honey comes out. After extracting the honey, the beekeeper will strain it using food grade paint strainers or special honey strainers. Next, the beekeeper lets the honey settle in buckets. Once the honey has settled, the beekeeper will remove the foam from the top of the honey. Finally, the beekeeper bottles the honey. Two things a beekeeper needs to be careful about is honey crystallizing and honey absorbing moisture. Honey crystallizes fastest in cool, dark places. It also crystallizes faster when there is little honey in the container. To uncrystallize honey, all a person needs to do is slowly warm it up. To prevent honey from absorbing moisture, a beekeeper can simply run a dehumidifier in the area the honey is. There are different types of honey that can be bought and sold. Different season and flavor honey is one of the variations. Spring honey is a rare and highly sought after flavor of honey. Comb honey, chunk honey, and creamed honey are other types of honey, Comb honey is honey that is still in the comb. Chunk honey is a small piece of comb honey that is place in a jar then the remaining space is filled with honey. Creamed honey is crystallized honey. This is not, however, honey that is just allowed to crystallized, it is honey that is purposefully crystallized to create a smooth texture.
After the honey is harvested, honey supers should be frozen for twenty-eight to seventy-two hours. This kills any wax moth eggs that are in the supers. After the supers have been frozen, the supers should be placed in big, heavy duty garbage bags. The garbage bags should be sealed tightly to ensure that nothing can get in.
Beeswax is another product of the beehive. Wax is used to make candles, lotions, lip balms, and lubricants. New, bright wax should be used in lotions, lip balms, and other such products. Dark wax should be used in lubricants and candles that were not created using molds.
Pollen can be a product of the hive if the beekeeper is willing to put the effort into collecting it. Pollen traps can be bought to collect pollen in. Pollen traps are placed at the bottom of the hive. The bees have to go through the pollen trap in order to enter their hive. The pollen falls of the bees legs as they go through the trap. A pollen trap should only be left on the hive two to three days because if too much pollen is taken away from the bees, they will not have enough pollen to feed the baby bees.
Propolis is a sticky resin the bees collect from trees. Propolis has antibacterial properties. People who are interested in health may be interested in collecting propolis. Propolis can also be used to rub on the inside of a swarm trap.
There are lots of ways to use the products of the hive.