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A day of our product specialist with a beekeeper: From hive to honey

Beekeeping Honey Frame

The world of beekeeping is a fascinating one, full of buzzing bees and of course the golden reward of honey. But what does it really take to produce honey? When our application specialist was invited to spend a day at the apiary of a friend, she was thrilled: “I was always fascinated by bees but have never seen up close what it really takes to produce honey – so I took the chance to find it out.”

The bee house: where it all begins

It all started in the apiary, the area where the rows of wooden beehives are placed. Before we entered, I was handed a beekeeper suit. Nervously I zipped up the veil hoping that no bee will get into my clothes. The air was filled with a buzz as hundreds of bees went about their business. To be able to work safely with bees, we lit a smoker. The smoke helps calm the bees by masking their alarm pheromones, reducing the risk of aggressive behavior. However, each hive has its own personality – some are calm and cooperative, while others can be a bit more energetic and lively.

Beekeeper in beekeeping suit

We began to inspect the honey frames to see if they were full and ready for extraction. We carefully opened each hive and checked for signs of health and activity. I was a little bit excited to see how many bees were flying around me, and we avoided sudden movements that could potentially disturb the bees.

Beekeeping honey frame

Harvesting honey: from the honeycomb to the jar

Once the inspection was complete and the honey frames were deemed ready, we took them to the honey extraction area. This is where the real magic happens. The extraction area was equipped with various tools and machines, including honey extractors, filters and jars.

The process began with the honeycomb being opened to reveal the honey underneath.

Beekeeping honey frame harvest

The frames were then placed into the extractor, a centrifugal machine that spins the honey out of the honeycomb. As the extractor worked, the honey flowed into a large container. The rich, golden liquid was then filtered to remove wax and residue before being poured into glasses.

Honey filtering

Quality assurance: Measure water and sugar content with the SmartRef Digital Refractometer and Lab Meister app

Before the honey was sealed and labeled, we needed to test its water and sugar content to ensure quality and stability. This is where our modern technology came into play! With our digital refractometer SmartRef in combination with the Lab Meister app, we were able to measure these values quickly and with high precision. Only a few drops of honey were needed for SmartRef and the results were displayed within seconds with an accuracy of +/- 0.2%. This level of accuracy is critical to ensuring honey longevity and preventing spoilage.

See also our Blog post “Determination of water in honey with SmartRef Digital Refractometer” for further information.

SmartRef Digital Refractometer Measurement of Honey Moisture

The sweet rewards

With the honey safely jarred and labeled, we sat down to relax and enjoyed the fruits of our labor. It was a rewarding experience, and I gained a new respect for beekeepers and their bees. Beekeeping is both an art and a science, requiring patience, skill, and a deep respect for bees. I left with a jar of fresh honey and a profound appreciation for the journey it took to get there — from hive to honey.

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