Just the other day, our beekeeper Julia Common gave us some very exciting news about our resident honey bee project. We’ve been waiting on this announcement for a couple of months since the bees moved to our rooftop garden. I’ve written a couple posts about the project already, you can find them here and here. But first, read on to find out what happened.
She swung by this past Sunday at 8am, before it got too hot, to check on our two chock-a-block beehives. She wants to ensure that the hives are productive and the bees aren’t thinking of swarming, which they do when they get too cramped or feel their honey harvest is threatened. And oh baby, is there honey!
Getting the Smoker Ready
Whenever Julia prepares to open the hives she uses a smoker to tame the bees. She started by teaching the kids how to ready the smoker, explaining why she uses it and what greenery to put inside to calm the bees. She asked them to gather some greenery from our now lush rooftop garden.
The kids picked a few bits of weeds, which was so cute. We also gathered oregano, lavender and sage. Besides having an effect on the bees, I think it calmed those who were feeling nervous. After all Julia said, now that there’s honey the bees are more protective and she was very clear to be cautious about how close we got to hives while she worked. Turns out, they were happy as clams in low season and not in any way preparing to defend their harvest. They just went about their business, as bees do.
As she worked, she shared her observations about our friends the bees. She’s still very pleased with the progress our honey bees have made in the few short months they’ve lived with us. As you can see from the photos, the hives have quadrupled in size which means the bees are thriving. The Queens have been filling the spaces with babies and the workers and drones are doing exactly what they need to do to support her. Good
men bees they are!
The When all was well with the bee preparation she carefully checked every frame in the hive on the left. She had already taken apart the one on the right last week with the help of a representative from Legacy Liquor Store. Legacy sponsored this program in part and will get half the honey harvest.
She knew from opening the hive on the right last week that the same would probably be true with this hive. So when she opened the hive this past Sunday she was confident that the frames would be loaded with honey. And then she announced the moment we’ve been waiting for.
Tasting the Honey Bee Harvest
The moment has arrived! We finally get to taste the honey. Julia chose a frame that showed a good bit of honey but no babies and gently shook the bees off and brought it over to where the kids were waiting, so patiently.
She instructed them on how to stick their fingers into the capped honeycomb and scoop the honey out for a taste. It didn’t take any prodding to encourage them to dig in as you can see!
While the kids were tasting the honey, I was in there too, poking holes into the comb just like I was a kid.
This honey was sweet as it is supposed to be but in a different way. Hints of raspberry and lavender perhaps mellowed it a bit, and of course the experience of tasting it directly from the honeycomb enhances the flavour.
We also tasted uncapped honey which has a higher water content and not yet ready for the waxy coating you find over the honey that is capped. Once honey has been capped it lasts forever.
And I suspect, because it hasn’t been packaged in plastic or other containers that may taint the flavour it just tasted better. But, I am no expert. Just a honey lover.
Honey is Nature’s Best Antiseptic
I asked Julia what would happen to the frames now that little fingers had poked holes and fingerfulls of honey were consumed. She said, ‘The bees don’t mind. They’ll just repair it and go on about their business.’
Being the science geek that I am I wondered about the bacteria introduced from all the grimy digits, including my own, that had been rooting around in the garden. Julia simply stated, ‘Honey is the nature’s best antiseptic. It has amazing healing powers…And eating honey will help you with allergies you may get from local plants.’
Ahhhh….I can still smell the sweet fragrant scent of honey and beeswax mixed with sage, lavender and oregano (and bits of weeds of course) from our lovely rooftop garden.
What a nice start to the day this was. It reminds me how important it is to set a positive tone for the day to lift the spirit. It can carry us through those days we’d rather just stay in bed. I have Julia and the bees to thank for this. And of course, my little Spiderman.
Do you have any experience with beekeeping? I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading.
If you’d like to stay up to date with the latest on the blog please follow along by email.