50 Shades of Honey

I remember visiting a friend’s home when they were bottling honey from their beehives, the different colours of each jar was inspiring to me.

A few years later and it is my turn to harvest some honey.  I have only taken a little bit of honey from my hives in the past but this year was more than I was used to.

There are two hives at my workshop, one National and one Warre beehive.  After checking how much honey was there in September, it was decided to take 2 supers from the National beehive and 1 box from the Warre beehive.

Super frame

National super Warre box with honey comb

When the boxes made it home, it was decided to start on the National supers first.  From following the instructions carefully from various websites, we worked on one frame at a time cutting the honey comb out into a container and slicing it up into many pieces to help release the honey.  We then mashed the comb with a potato masher or a pestle.  Once the container was full of mashed up comb, we inserted muslin into the fruit press followed shortly after by our mashed up honey comb.  We continued this until the fruit press was full.

Slicing honey comb Mashing honey comb Honey Press

Before we even started pressing, honey began to flow through the muslin and was on its way.

We began to use the press and with the honey aided by gravity, it flowed through our 2 sieves before falling into a container.  We used sieves to catch any large bits that were not honey, this could have been wax, parts of bees or anything else, this process was repeated until both supers and Warre box were complete.

Honey Press Sieving honey

To my surprise, we harvested 10kg from super 1, 10kg from super 2 and 10.5kg from the Warre box.  What a fantastic surprise to have 30.5kg of pure honey from the most wonderful Honey bees living in Cwmbran, South Wales.

Now that we had a considerable amount of nature’s sweetener, it was decided to keep some and bottle some.  2 different types of jars were purchased and so began the bottling process, this was a most enjoyable experience on my senses.  The sights, smells and of course the tastes were fantastic, even awe inspiring and many other words that I would only find in a thesaurus, or that I make up like fan-dabbie-dosey.

Honey Jar

It was time to think about labels for these jars, it was quickly decided that we would design them ourselves and not pay for the quite frankly boring designs that are widely available or for the fees of a designer.  So after way too many hours learning about a certain design software, a design was chosen.  This however was not the end of the design story, as the printers who were to print them, needed slight modifications to the design for it to work.

Honey Jars

After many, many hours of work, from spending time with the Honey bees, research, cutting honey comb, using a press, bottling honey, tasting honey, designing labels and sending multiple emails to the printers.  This is something of which I thoroughly enjoyed, learnt so much, tasted so much, had so many headaches but would not change any of it.

Scroll Saw Madness

As a supplier to the beekeeping world, and due to its seasonality, there are times when I can focus on other work.

A visit to the 2014 Treefest event held at Westonbirt Arboretum was on the cards this year.  There were plenty of opportunities to see what other people from around the UK do with varying sizes and different types of wood.  There was an abundance of stalls, which to me personally, looked very similar but there were two stalls in particular which stood out.

These two stalls used a certain type of tool which is able to produce amazing results.  The tool in question is a Scroll Saw.  Seeing the work they produced inspired me to give it another go.

I already have a Scroll saw but it has been gathering a lot of dust, with offcuts placed on top of it in the workshop.  I retrieved it from the workshop monster and began to get to grips with it again.

I struggled to use my Scroll Saw previously, which is why it was put away, but seeing how it was done at Treefest helped me realise the potential these machines have, in the right hands that is.

After fighting with my Scroll saw recently and losing too many times, I decided to invest in another one; this was an outstanding decision and I have not looked back since.

So I purchased a Diamond Scroll saw, which is approximately 30 years old, probably the best machine to get due to its diversity in its use.  The blades are easier to change, it has the ability to use different types of blades if needs be, can work with much bigger pieces of work, has a variable speed motor but best of all, it has a foot pedal which when I use the machine, sounds like a sewing machine which I believe is just fantastic.

Scroll Saw

Scroll saw

For the upcoming autumn / winter madness of attending Christmas craft events and markets, whilst I wait in anticipation for the next surge in Beehive sales, it will be a very busy time for the new to me anyway Diamond Scroll saw, producing new and interesting craft.  The ideas are already starting to flow, just need more offcuts.  I will post more photos of my work soon.

Western Red Cedar Tree silhouette Western Red Cedar Wales Country outline Oak Elephant Silhouette Ash tree silhouettes