The saying to new beekeepers goes, "don't expect to get any honey your first year." I'd so much lowered my expectations that when my hives produced boxes chock full of honey multiple beekeeping buddies had to convince and encourage me to actually take some.
I ended up taking 3 frames full of honey from the hive that had completely filled its super with by August. I won't take any from the other hive, as it's been slower to put honey away. I may take another few frames this month. The final count from this harvest: 3 frames = about 6 lbs. of honey
Major pats on the back were had. It felt like a big accomplishment to even have 2 flourishing beehives let alone get honey just four months into beekeeping. The first time our chicken laid an egg, I felt a similar elation but I didn't play a part in the egg-making.
It ended up being silly how proud I was on honey harvest day. I had more of a personal stake in beekeeping than I'd realized. With most of our projects, I lean on Ryan's expertise. I definitely try to be a part of it, but it's a little bit like trying to help a mechanic fix a car when you know nothing about fixing cars. Incidentally he also knows how to fix cars. So I wanted a thing of my own, and was determined to be the expert this time.
I also have a tendency to either rush projects, or start & not finish. It's a classic mix of fear and perfectionism... but bees are SO NOT perfect. The challenge was to take on something a little scary, and to actually follow through. I only realized that I had something to prove on honey harvest day, when I felt a rush of achievement. This was my thing, and despite inspecting hives in the 100+ degree Texas summer and suffering multiple beestings along the way, I followed through.
On the day of harvest we opened up the hive and removed the honey frames we wanted, brushed off the bees and quickly brought them into the house. I had borrowed strainer buckets from Jean, my bee mentor to crush and strain the honey. This is an alternate method of extracting in which you slice off the entire honeycomb and let the honey strain from the wax. An initial strain gets big chunks of comb out, then a second strain overnight through mesh gets the honey completely pure. Here's Ryan slicing off the comb:
After leaving it overnight to strain thoroughly, we poured it into jars.
After straining, what's left is crushed beeswax. To process that, I melted it down and strained it through cheesecloth to purify it. I got a little block from it, and will probably make a candle or some lip balm. Here's a step-by-step look at wax processing: