Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stolen Honey

Dean came through. He called his friend who is an amateur apiarist and the friend happily agreed to come and take the bees off our hands. He was happy to do it. For FREE.

He showed up last night around 7:30, a time when the bees should all be in their hive and starting to bed down for the night.

He did a cursory check of the box and started to make his preparations. While doing so he good naturedly answered our non-stop questions.

The smoker held a piece of smoldering burlap. The way I understood it, the smoker makes the bees think the hive is on fire so they all go in to gather honey to save it before fleeing to find another hive location. Haven't they heard you're never supposed to go back into a burning building? The spray bottle contains sugar water. It also keeps them calm by encouraging them to stay down and congregate towards where the water was sprayed, thus keeping them from flying away.

Jeff, the bee keeper, lifted the box where the bees had made their hive. I was shocked and amazed at what was under there. He said these bees had probably been there at the minimum of two weeks (shows how observant I am!) and they most assuredly had honey already.

He put their new home, a prefab bee box, under the sheep ramp. He got everything positioned so he could give the ramp a couple of good thumps and have the majority of the bees and their honeycombs fall into the new box.

With that, he decided to let them settle for the night and he would pick them up the following night.

Of course someone asked him about Africanized bees. He said he knew these were not because otherwise they would have been swarming all over him. According to Jeff, in order to clean up an Africanized colony, the queen of that colony needs to be located and killed. Then a new queen would be introduced and the colony would then revert back to normal.

That was our excitement for the evening. Until... We decided later that night to steal a couple of combs.

By 9:30 it had been totally dark for about an hour. My husband and I went out with a bowl and a flashlight. I held the bowl and flashlight while he lifted the ramp and carefully snatched two pieces of honeycomb and dropped them in the bowl. He lowered the ramp back into position over the bee box, no one the wiser.

Back at the house we got some cheesecloth and wrapped the honeycombs inside. The bag was squished a few times and hung up from a cabinet over a bowl. It dripped honey into bowl over night.

Even though our stolen honey is not filtered and there are a few specks of dirt, it is like the difference between store bought tomatoes and home grown tomatoes. Everyone knows how much better home grown is than store bought. The same goes for our eggs. Dean once shared lobsters he'd caught with us and I have never tasted such a wonderful, fresh, sweet lobster. It was amazing! That's how it is with this honey. I could definately taste clover. It's so ... I just don't know how to describe it. It doesn't have the same super sweetness as store bought, and if it's possible to describe honey this way, it has a crispness to it, it's not as thick. That sounds dumb. I guess it's one of those things where you have to be there to fully experience it.

So tonight Jeff will pick up the bees. Jeff is happy, we are happy, and I'm sure the bees will be happy too!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YAY! All's well that ends well.

What a "honey" of a story! :)