Something you can do when you’re living in the country is participate in all manner of husbandry. Animal husbandry, that is. Basically, husbandry is the cultivation or control of a particular plant or animal for the intention of producing edible crops.
Even better, you don’t necessarily need to own your own plants or animals to participate. In fact, while technically we live on a farm, the only crop we produce is hay. We do have a garden with tomatoes, squash, peppers, and that sort of thing, but it hardly constitutes enough to make this an actual farm farm. On the other hand, my in-laws have lots and lots and lots of fruits and veggies growing, and they also raise cows, chickens, and bees. And fortunately, we benefit by helping them on occasion. All the fun, none of the responsibility!
Last week, in fact, they set about harvesting their first “crop” of honey. And since I’m a homeschool mom, I figure that letting my kids engage in some care of the hives would be a great learning experience. So when my father-in-law called my daughter to see if she wanted to help harvest the honey, we jumped at the chance. She did, anyway; I just went along to photographically document the experience. 🙂
While I’m not especially afraid of bees (although I loathe wasps!), it’s a little out of my comfort zone to stand in close proximity to hundreds of them. But honestly? It wasn’t bad at all, save for the one instance one got tangled in my hair and I screamed like a little girl in a Halloween Fun House.
To begin the process, you have to put a couple drops of some nasty Pepe LePew liquid into the hives to make the bees want to get outta there. Here everyone’s waiting for them to chill… Which was kind of hard to do, considering it was about 105ºF that day! After an entire spring and early summer getting pollen from all sorts of flowers, the hives are swollen with honey in the very hottest part of the year.
You can start to see the bees moving away from the honey on the frames in the supers (those are the individual boxes), so that we could get to the frames. Once the frames are relatively clear, you can get to the honey.
I’m hoping they’ll invite us back again next year.