Spring Planting and Spring Honey

In the past few weeks, things have been quite busy! From preparing and planting soybean tests to working with the bees right after work, I have been almost completely occupied.

Planting Soybeans

At the ag center we have planted 11 soybean tests so far. Surprisingly we still have 3 more soybean and then 2 more southern pea tests to plant. It has been hectic but I truly enjoy planting our seeds and assisting in the research that we do.

Soybeans in envelopes before they are planted
Fill seed before its planted

Most of our trials are planted the same way, usually four row plots in a randomized order with fill as a protective border around the whole block (field). The fill seed is a conventional seed that is already on the market and not only acts as a border but also as a control in our tests. These tests are planted using a tractor driven planter where two people sit on top and dump the seed into the planter. In three of the next four soybean tests that we are planting, we will be doing them by hand using a stomp planter. While planting using the tractor is much quicker and standardized, I am actually looking forward to the hand planted tests because it is much more intimate! Don’t tell the PhD and research assistant I work for though, they are dreading the hand planted tests.

 

Honey Extraction

These past few weeks at Ransom Produce, we have tended to the bees and taken out supers containing hundreds of pounds of honey and extracted them. I now know where the labor work of the beekeeper lies. The bees do mostly everything with very little human intervention. The beekeepers main goal is keeping the hive healthy by checking up on them and keeping pests like hive beetles and wax moths out, both of which can be very detrimental to hives. This part of beekeeping is really just regular maintenance to assist the bees. Where beekeepers really break a sweat, is extracting the honey. First, you must go to each hive and take out supers with frames loaded with pounds of honey and take them to an extractor. There are three parts to this process, the first is loading frames into a machine that shaves the wax caps to each comb off so the honey is accessible. After that, the frames must be loaded into a centrifuge that uses centrifugal force to extract the honey, after the honey is collected, it must be strained and then bottled. It’s a lot of work and it’s very sticky but it is also very rewarding.  Here are some pictures of the process:

Manual honey extraction: use a knife to cut off the caps of the combs
Scoop out all honey and comb into a colander with a bucket underneath and then run the honey through a filter and enjoy
Supers with frames filled with honey
Frames in a super filled with combs of honey
Frames on the machine that shaves the caps off to make the honey accessible
The excess from the frame machine, don’t worry, all of this will be used to make beeswax!

 

The round red object is the extractor, it spins the frames and the honey pours out into a tank
The honey is then pumped into a barrel for storage before it is filtered and bottled
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The final step is to put all the supers with now empty frames back into the beehives to start the process over again

 

What’s left of nearly 2lbs of raw honey from one frame.

 

It has been such a pleasure working with the bees. Even after a long day at work and going to do more ‘work’ immediately after, I truly enjoy my time with the bees. Beekeeping doesn’t feel like work at all, instead it is therapeutic to be involved in animal husbandry.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up beekeeping one day after I finally settle somewhere.

In other news, I am still awaiting medical clearance and I am beginning to put things together in a packing list as the time to depart draws closer. I also will be taking the Foreign Service exam for fun next week. I can’t believe it will be June in two days, where has the time gone? Anyway, ou revoir and wish me luck on my exam!

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