Filtering, Bottling and Labeling on the way to a final product
The last twenty four hours have been an amazing journey! We all thank every one hundred and ninety-five of you, famous and infamous alike that helped us reach our goal! I think that The West Hill Honey Company is a good idea. It is the right thing at the right time with the right person. We are so glad that you agree.
Our story continues. The honey has come up the hill and been extracted. On its way to our current storage method, a white bucket, it gets an initial filtering. This takes out most of the larger chunks of wax, bee parts, and other detritus that has found its way into the honey from the extractor. Once bucketed, it sits in the warmest, least travelled room in our house, the Dining room until we need it to be bottled.
Right before going into the bottling bucket is when we give it a final filtration. A fine nylon mesh catches tiny wax chips as the honey passes through on the way to the bottling bucket. This isn't really necessary because wax and other contaminants are almost all lighter than honey. Meaning eventually those things float to the surface. And point in fact, if we left them in, the honey would be healthier for you. Filtering always removes a little goodness too. But, doing this step makes for honey that is clearer, and a better presentation when the customer first opens the jar. Here we bow to the consumer.
The bottling buckets we have drip honey on to the floor, and the sides of the bottles so that has to be accounted for. We really look forward to the new bottling tanks we will purchase with the Kickstarter money. They will have a dripless valve on the bottom so we can bottle without drips. Currently we have to wash the jars after they are filled and before they are labeled or we get sticky from handling them. If someone picks up one of our jars at a sale, we don't want them to have to wash their hands.
Finally, there is the labeling. We print our labels on our own printer and attach them using an adhesive (my daughter's aluminum :-) dot roller. We think about some day going to pre-printed labels but we like the flexibility we now have. We can make changes to the label anytime we want now. And though the label isn't as permanent, it will smear if it gets wet for instance, the ability to design a custom label in an instant is what keeps us here.
Now you have seen our story of the harvest to the point where we have a finished product. Next comes sales and that will likely be the subject of our next update.
Now that we have made our initial Kickstarter goal we are evaluating what to do next. We are thinking some of setting a stretch goal out there. We work just like any other business. If we get more money, we will find a place for it. If we can line up more locations, we need more hives. We need a clarifying tank to hold warmed honey. We need a hydrometer so we can measure the moisture level of honey before we bottle it. We need some sturdy steel shelving to put jars on. We need a couple more smaller sized bee suits so we can suit up more kids and teach them about bees. When you have a business there are always needs. We will try to get these things laid out after Natalie gets home from school today and get something posted tonight. Keep passing the word!