Over the last weekend of September, the MaRS Bee Committee held its first honey harvest in which approximately 60 pounds of honey was extracted from the two hives that are kept on the roof of the Evans Wing. Only surplus honey is taken from the bees, leaving them with enough honey to survive the winter. Extracting honey entails a few steps and, as we learned over the weekend, it also requires a lot of patience and backbreaking work.
The first step is removing the frames from the hives, which involves smoking the bees to keep them calm, and then gently brushing them off of the frames to avoid transporting them into the building.
Next, we brought the frames into the kitchen area to extract the honey. The bees had capped each frame with a layer of beeswax that we needed to open in order to extract the honey.
We spun the frames in a centrifuge, which pulls the honey out of the honeycomb.
We then filtered the honey through a large sieve to remove all of the large bits of beeswax, and then filtered it again through a finer sieve to remove the remaining pieces of smaller debris. This took a lot of patience, as straining honey is a very slow process!
Finally, we bottled the honey in clean glass jars. This was the easiest part of the job.
We bottled the honey in three different sizes of jars, all of which will be sold to MaRSians to help sustain the hives.
For more pictures from the harvest, visit our Flickr page.