Oh Honey!

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.

Checking to see how the bees are behaving…

The bees are finally moving off the frames and exposing the honeycombs.

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.

The worst part was that you have to cover up virtually every part of your body so that the bees don’t get in your clothes.  My poor girl was pink with heat for the next 3 days!

A little honeycomb action after 1/2 hour of sweltering in the intense July heat…

Bees, bees, and honey!

Finally, the honey is ready to be extracted.  But first, the honeycombs have to be scraped off the frames.

So pretty, and sooooooo sticky!

Extracting it from the frames

The frames go in this large bucket, and you crank it much like an ice cream maker.  Centrifugal force pulls/pushes the honey off the frames.

Scraping…

Extracting.

Scraping…

Extracting.  That’s me, stepping out from behind the camera.  I do, after all, have to earn it if I want to eat some of the honey!

Sorry it’s blurry, but this is honey coming out of the extractor.  It’s utterly delicious.  I should know, because I had some on my toast this morning.

Taking honey from only 1 hive, my in-laws ended up with about 2 gallons of honey.

We ended up with a pint!  And a day’s worth of a great learning experience too.

I’m hoping they’ll invite us back again next year.

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