EUGENE, Ore. — Backyard beekeepers are seeing gold–honey gold.
This is the time of year to extract it. Bees have been busy this summer collecting pollen. Outside the Hornadays’ home in Eugene, they don’t need to travel far. There are plenty of flowers, fruit trees and hives, including a natural hive nestled in a fig tree.
“We were able to start three hives from this one,” said beekeeper Doug Hornaday.
The Hornadays have 10 hives at different sites.
“We are not afraid of them. These are friendly bees,” said beekeeper Jen Hornaday.
Even so, when it comes time for extraction, they wear gear: suits, gloves, boots and hats.
One day a year they extract honey.
“We are going to be going through the top two sections — these are the honey supers. The bottom two are the broods. You don’t touch those at all.
They’ll go through the super–the top two sections of the box–frame after frame. You’ll notice in the upper box there’s not a lot of bee activity.
“Now we are going to get into some honey. This is in the very center,” Jen Hornaday said.
One frame at a time, Jen brushes the bees off and puts the frame into a clean bin..
“Everywhere there’s empty holes is where the other bees have crawled out of there. They’ve just hatched,” Jen Hornaday said.
Frames with brood go back into the super. The other frames are headed to the honey house. No suit required here. Inside, the heat is on. The temperature reads 100 degrees. Even so, Jen uses a heated knife to remove any wax.
“So I am working on getting the capped honey without hurting the frame,” Jen Hornaday said. Wax can be used for candles and lip balms.
Once it’s removed, frames are put into a spinner. The Hornadays belong to the Lane County Beekeepers Association and use the extractor for free. The honey is then slowly extracted.
The Horndays expect more than 400 pounds of honey this year. Much of it is pesticide-free and comes from hives placed at homes where surrounding neighbors have signed a pledge not to use chemicals.