During my transition time after the house sold and before I bought the RV, I stayed with a friend whom I pet sit for every few months. When she’s away, I care for one silly dog, a fat cat, a dozen or so ducks, schools of fish, and swarms of busy bees. OK, the bees take care of themselves, but I did help harvest their honey and learned a few things about them.
Always wary of stinging insects, a few years ago, I surprised myself by walking up to a busy hive in a friend’s yard and putting my hand on the wooden box. The thrum inside was thrilling! Bees are amazing creatures and do intricate bee dances to signal sources of nectar they’ve located to other bees. As I learned more about the connections between all living things, I was no longer afraid of the bees who help pollinate our world.
My friend has been beekeeping for a season or two, and had already placed special boxes called Queen Excluders on top of her two hives. This allows the worker bees to fly in and out of the box, but the queen bee cannot enter or fertilize the cells. Donning her white bee suit, Chris carefully removed the heavy boxes filled with trays of honeycombs. Did you know that bees dislike the color black and tend to attack humans wearing black who might be black bears in disguise?
We pried the heavy trays from the boxes, then using a serrated bread knife and multi-pronged tools to scrape the thinnest layer of wax off each tray, left most of the honey intact. Four trays at a time were inserted into the metal spinning canister and hand-cranked until centrifugal force flung the honey out of the combs. Then, the same trays were flipped around to release the contents from the other side. The waxy scrapings were set into a colander over a bucket to drain out the precious sweetness.
After an hour of scraping, spinning, and dripping, we harvested about 4 gallons of spring wildflower honey into a 5 gallon pail. The tools and trays were left on the front porch for the bees to clean up the next day, which they did with gusto! Raw honey takes about a week to set and cure before consuming. It was soul satisfying to learn a self-sustaining craft that has been done pretty much the same way for centuries.
The last task I helped with was to decorate the outside of a bee box for the next honey harvest. Isn’t it bee-utiful?!
Think: When is the last time you learned a new skill?
Say: The next time someone invites you to participate in an unfamiliar activity, say Yes!
Do: Teach others the art forms and skills that you have already mastered. Trade knowledge by helping each other learn what comes naturally for one, but is foreign to the other.
Please: Share this post with three or more of your friends. If it has been helpful to you, it may be what someone else also needs to hear right now. Thank you!