Tuesday, July 2, 2013

honey is sweet

We have embarked on a sweet new adventure in this family - and have expanded our "household" by several thousand tiny, busy bees! 
Yes - we have become beekeepers!
This has been a dream for years. Our family consumes much more honey than sugar and we have often thought having our own honey would be amazing. Joined by our kids, we attended a local beekeeping class this past May and June. There certainly is a lot to learn, but at moments of information overload our experienced teachers claimed that once you understand the basics it is an easy, fun hobby, with sweet rewards not only for the beekeeper but for the environment as well. Bees are experiencing difficult times these days. I have not yet seen the documentary film "More than Honey" but it is on my to-do list for sure. (It was actually playing in our local cinema the same evening we had our beekeeping class).

We were fortunate to inherit a few colonies in the nearby woods from our mentor beekeeper. Once a week we check through the hives wearing our protective clothing. The bees are much more docile than we expected. However, we have learned not to go on a rainy, cold day, because all the bees are at home! The smoker is a great help  - but I have also discovered that my new Saturday scent is "Eau de Smoke!"
The past two weekends we had our first go at harvesting honey with quite good results. Here my son is removing the top layer of wax to prepare the honey comb.
Next the combs are placed in a centrifuge so the honey can be spun out. The boys in my house (big and small) love anything with motors. 
Very quickly honey starts dripping out of the honey spinner. 
All this work makes a small bear hungry for a bread roll with fresh honey. Delicious!
 “Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.”   -A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Our mentor gave us these adorable beeswax candles. Perhaps someday we'll be making these too! Right now we just hope we can keep our bees healthy over the winter.

Sue Monk Kidd's books "Traveling with Pomegranates" and  "The Secret Life of Bees" really helped me to see bees in a new light (though that is just a sub-theme  - or perhaps more a metaphor - in the "The Secret Life..."). Another book that has been inspiring me is  "Die Honigfrau" by German author Agnes Fluegel.  I don't think it's in English, but I will mention it here for all of my German-speaking readers :) The author entertains with her witty tale of how she exchanges her fast-paced Hamburg life for a country home near the ocean, and recounts her adventures on becoming a beekeeper and making her hobby a business.

Do you know any good bee stories, books, films? I'd love to hear!
Now if your mouth is watering, then please go get a jar of honey
from your local beekeeper and enjoy! 


Pieni Lintu said...

Wow - looks great!

Tamar SB said...

That is so amazing!!! Enjoy, enjoy!!

Anna-Marie Field said...

Hi Karen,WOW!!!How amazing!!!We love honey too!!! But Badger Free Honey is all I buy!!!Have a great day Honey!!!LOL!!!

nest full of eggs said...

All the best to your family on your new adventure! Happy honey eating.
PS We have The Bee Movie

Kathleen's Blog said...

Wow--how fascinating!! I've always been so intrigued with the concept of beekeeping. I wish you luck and I'll be back, hopefully there will be some more information and pictures from your new endeavor.

Kim Cunningham said...

Great experience! How wonderful to have all that fresh honey!

Molly said...

How cool is that, I would love to have home produced honey... I am a massive honey fan


Gale said...

Wow...I don't think I'm brave enough for that hobby!

...melody... said...

Wow! This is too cool! :)

Jade @ Tasting Grace said...

Wow you are far braver than I am! But it does look like such a fun hobby, and I bet all that fresh honey tastes amazing!