Two of my bee colonies died over the winter. One starved because it didn't have enough stored honey despite my not harvesting any last year. The other hive froze because the queen died. Normally, the workers cluster around the queen in the winter months which keeps the internal temperature of the hive at about 90 degrees. The reason I know the queen died is because the bees were dispersed throughout the hive and not in a central cluster. There were also several frames of capped honey that remained untouched, indicating they did not starve.
I've lost hives over winter before but there has never been honey to spare so I was pretty excited to find the "bonus honey".
I invited some friends over last week to harvest the honey from the empty hives. There were five frames to harvest which yielded a little less than fifteen pounds of honey. The children learned how to tell the difference between capped honey and nectar. They took the wax caps off of the honey with a heated uncapping tool. We put the frames in the extractor which uses centrifugal force to draw the honey from the frames. Each of the children had a chance to crank the extractor. We then filtered the honey through four fine filters, removing any wax, debris or bee parts before bottling the honey. I think everyone had fun with the process and learned about honey production as well.
As a side note, I love the bottles with the cork tops. I think they are pretty and I plan to order some more this spring.