Honey bottles and a lip balm for sale
Photo by Alexa Henderson

Students and volunteers alike joined Dr. Edward Burkett, the apiary manager, at the University of Wisconsin-Superior Barstow Hall Sept. 24, 2019, to gather honey from the school’s apiary. The tedious, yet awarding, process spanned from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The process began by taking frames of honey from the bee hive in the UWS Apiary, separating them from the honeybees so the honey could be extracted. Each frame of honey is then carefully removed from the apiary and brought to another central location, away from the bees, to begin the extraction process. In the new location, the frames are inspected to see if the honey is thick enough to remain and not fall out of the honeycombs. If the honey is too thin, it will drip out and be unusable. However, if the honey is good, it is food grade approved and ready to be processed.

Dr. Edward Burkett showcases frame of honey Photo by Alexa Henderson

Bee’s wax, called “caps,” cover the honeycomb in the frame. The caps are sheared off with a hot knife and collected. Any wax collected is cosmetic grade and used to make lip balm and salves.

Burkett explained, “We have not bottled the honey yet, but 350 pounds of honey will make about 466 bottles of honey. With the amount of wax we collected we would be able to make several thousand lip balms. More than likely we will use some of the cosmetic wax to make salves.”

The demanding process still elicited excitement and a delicious interactive learning environment for visitors. Burkett described his favorite parts of the activity as, “It is all a lot of fun, [but] the best part is working with the students and seeing the excitement on their faces when they get to de-cap the honey comb with the hot knife for the first time. I think you will agree that the smell and tastes are wonderful! But my favorite part is talking to all of the visitors and answering their awesome questions about honey bees!”

The fresh honey was $5 per bottle and $2 per “Dr. Bee’s” lip balm.