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HomeEducation'Fascinating:' The unBEElievable process of extracting honey at Mohawk College

‘Fascinating:’ The unBEElievable process of extracting honey at Mohawk College

Everyone knows that honey can help soothe a sore throat. However, not everyone is aware of all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into preparing this sweetener.

Mohawk Sustainability held a honey harvesting workshop showcasing the process behind extracting honey on Oct. 5.

Jorvin Williams, an Environmental Technician student, said he believes the honey extraction process is important and he hopes to see more people become involved with learning about bees.

“Bees are very fascinating and the extraction process is very cool,” he said. “I love learning about the whole process, like the different stages and maintaining and stuff. I would like [to see] more people come to the workshop and just be involved with bees because bees are a big part of our lives in terms of pollination.”

“We all know pollination is important, we need it in terms of famine and whatever. It’s good. So the more people [who get involved with bees] I guess the better the process becomes. Like more research will be done and more events will take place so yeah, that would be good.”

Honey harvesting is a big task for beekeepers. The beginning of the extraction process is quite simple but it becomes more intense further into the process.

“We have to get all the bees out of the box before we can begin the extraction process,” beekeeper Dave Stotesbury said. “One of the most exciting ways we can do this is by putting a backpack leaf blower on our backs and blowing all those bees out. This way, we avoid all these boxes of bees and the bees slowly make their way back to the colony.”

Toward the middle and end of the extraction process, the bees must take the moisture out of the nectar and then the honey can be taken out of the honey frame.

“Bees take moisture out of the nectar by sucking it up and spitting it out,” Stotesbury said. “To get the honey out of the frame, the first thing we need to do is break the cell capping. On a small scale, we can just use a very simple knife and cut the wax capping off. Once all beeswax cappings have been cut off the frames, they go into big presses and those presses squish all the honey out of the beeswax.”

“What we’re left with is fairly dry pollen and now we got to get our honey frames inside of the extractor. This then gives us a pile of honey at the bottom which will then be drained into another sort of container that can properly bottle honey in some way.”

Extractors remove honey from the comb.
Cell capping remains after being scraped off of the honey frame.

Mohawk Sustainability’s goal with this workshop is to make the college become more sustainable and support local food organizations through honeybees, as they’re quite important for food availability and development.

“With this partnership with Backed by Bees we have four honey bee hives on campus,” Sustainability programs and services coordinator Ashley Packer said. “We have the intention of trying to support our local food systems a bit more and honey bees are a great way to do that, because they’re wildly important to the success and availability of our food that we eat. Mohawk wanted to do our part to support the honey bees and pollinators on campus and this is one of the many initiatives that we do.”

This Mohawk honey will be available for purchase at the Local Food Farm stand, arranged by Mohawk Sustainability, next Wednesday between 12-5 p.m.

 

 

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