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Flowers and honey, BEEcause of bees

Today's guest blogger is Anne Furlong, an intern in the IMA's Horticulture Department.

bee on flowerFive years ago, with the addition of the Tanner Orchard, the IMA also got two hives of honey bees. Since then, the bees have been active behind-the-scenes doing work that many people don’t notice or think much about. Bees carry pollen on their bodies from one flower or plant to another, pollinating as they go. This allows the pollinated plants to produce seeds, flowers and fruit.

The bees have been very busy this year. On Wednesday, the horticulture team processed the largest honey harvest they’ve ever had, extracting just about five gallons! Take a look at the step-by-step pictures and see how the process works!

A frame of honey.

A frame of honey.

First, the resident beekeepers suited up and headed out to the hives to get the frames (above picture) that hold the comb that holds the honey. The frames were then brought inside where the wax capping on each of the combs cells was melted off with a special hot knife (below picture).

Chad cutting the caps off the honey.

Chad cutting the caps off the honey.

Next, the uncapped frames were set in baskets inside a large metal drum designed to spin the honey out of all the cells (pictured below). The crank was turned and the honey was spun onto the side of the extractor.

Jim and Chad placing a frame into the honey extractor.

Jim and Chad placing a frame into the honey extractor.

The honey then drips down the sides of the large drum, gathers in the bottom and flows out a valve in the bottom. It was then strained into another container to remove any excess debris such as wax or bee particles.

Honey dripping from the extractor into the strainer.

Honey dripping from the extractor into the strainer.

Finally, the honey was poured into jars and is ready to enjoy!

canning honey

Bees play a big role in our environment. They aid in the reproduction of many plants, fruits, flowers and vegetables. You can help bees by not using pesticides. Not only are you protecting important pollinators like bees but you’re also helping the environment!

honey in jar

Filed under: Greenhouse, Guest Bloggers, Horticulture

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