April Bees Make June Honey
Back in April, Jill and Jeff invited me over to see the installation of their brand new bee hives and about 20,000 bees, delivered in person by azure b owners Heidi and Stefano from their apiary in Maryland.
Here are Jeff and Jill (on the far left), and Heidi and Stefano (at right) in their backyard just after Stefano finished setting up the hives.
Jill and Jeff were told it may take an entire year before they’d be able to harvest honey, but their bees proved exceptional. As today’s guest blogger, Jill tells us about their first June harvest.
I think we must have the busiest bees on the planet because after only a couple months, they completely filled two hives with layer upon layer of honey-filled comb. In fact, they made so much that our “bee whisperer” Stefano told us we could take just a bit for ourselves. Thinking we’d have to wait another year, we jumped at the chance! My intrepid bee-wrangling husband, Jeff, did the honors with our 5-year-old in tow.
Step 1: Fire up the smoker. This will confuse the little winged beauties just long enough for you to get in and out in relative comfort.
Step 2: Wearing oh-so-attractive bee hood (a step he neglected last time, much to his peril), Jeff removes the hive cover and identifies which frame of comb will be easiest to remove.
Step 3: Once the frame has been removed, gently-oh-so-gently encourage the clinging bees to clear out. This involved a lot of blowing on them like they were hot food. None seemed too distraught by this entire process, which surprised me. I have to think that if someone came into my house, took my food, and then blew on me like I was hot food, I’d be a little miffed.
Step 4: Once the frame was bee-free, Jeff quickly cut out the comb and returned the now-empty frame to the hive. Knowing our bees, it will be full again tomorrow. The result of the comb removal was… the most beautiful piece of golden honeycomb ever collected. Here’s just a small sample.
Step 5: Gawk at the amazingness that is honey. I mean, just look at its drippy, unctuous perfection! Gently pressing on the comb caused the honey to ooze out and we spread it on pretty much anything that would stay still. Bread? Check. Crackers? Check. Cheese? Check. Fingers? Check.
Now we have enough honey to last us a couple weeks and the bees will be left in peace until next year when we can enjoy the fruits of their labor yet again. All in all, I was truly in awe of the entire process, though I did feel like a little bit of an evil tax collector. “Here – we’ll let you do business in our yard, but we will forcibly extract a portion of your labor for the privilege.” If only it didn’t taste so good.
Thank you, Jill, for updating us on your progress! If you’d like more info about beekeeping at your home from Heidi and Stefano, you can reach them at azure b.