Tribune Recorder Leader

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What’s the Buzz? McCoy Family Apiaries of Minden City Begins Golden Harvest

Jackie Salowitz
Tribune Recorder Leader

The honeybees have been busy, and McCoy Family Apiaries of Minden City has also been busy tending to the many hives they have around the Thumb of Michigan.

Shawn McCoy in front of one of their extractors in Minden City.

All of their hard work throughout the summer culminates with the harvest of the honey (at least the Michigan portion of it). McCoy Family Apiaries have just started processing, and will now add the harvesting/extracting to their list of beekeeping duties.

The honey flowing into the 55-gallon barrel, with its beautiful caramel color.

Honeycomb frames are arriving at the processing plant by the truckload. Once they are dropped off, the boxes are put in an enclosed room where the temperature reaches approximately 100-102 degrees. This makes the process of scraping off the wax cap that the bees make to seal off the honey in each cell, much easier. Once the wax caps are removed, the frames are placed in an extractor, which spins the honey out, and to the bottom of the extractor. It is then strained, removing larger pieces of wax and other particles.

Workers take time out for a picture, they are scraping the wax off.

After it has been strained it is ready to be placed into 55 gallon barrels, holding approximately 650 pounds of honey. The honey sells for $2.85 pound, and is shipped by semi to Barkman Honey, in Kansas. McCoy’s average 15 barrels a day, over a span of 30-40 days. They also sell their honey to the public, from now through September, and are usually available Tuesdays through Saturday. You can call 989-712-0807 for more information. For those that have had McCoy’s bees on their property, there is a sweet advantage – they give those landowners (in total) approximately 6,000 pounds of honey.

Blocks of beeswax, processed by Jamie Ostrowski, of Arnold Apiaries.

The by-product of honey, the wax capping, is also put in 55-gallon barrels and sent to Jamie Ostrowski, of what has been known for years as Arnold Apiaries, east of Deckerville, also known as Queen Bee Enterprises. She processes the wax into blocks of beeswax. Jamie puts the cappings into a large oven, called a renderer, which melts the cappings. It is run through screens, which collects the dirt/debris. The clean wax runs into trays and cools into blocks. The blocks are returned to McCoy Family Apiaries, which they sell for resale. Beeswax can be used for anything from making candles to lip balm and crayons.

Boxes with honeycomb waiting to be processed.

McCoy Family Apiaries won’t be done once the processing is finished, as they get the bees ready to go on the road, going to California and Mississippi, to Maine and Wisconsin, and then starting the process all over again in Michigan.

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