I have to say that I have been wanting to write about this for several months now. This past Saturday I was invited to one of my favorite family’s home to participate in the harvesting of honey from one of their bee hives. What an absolutely fascinating process. My friend, Mike is learning to be a beekeeper. In doing so, he has become a sort of beekeeper apprentice to Bill, a man who has been a beekeeper for several years.
The hive that they were harvesting had three boxes with ten frames in each box. They were able to get about 70-80 pounds of fresh raw honey from this one hive. Bill was very instructive in explaining process and answering all of our questions – and they were many.
The process is started by taking a type of hot iron that cuts the wax cap off of the honey comb. Once the cap has been removed the frame is placed in a type of honey centrifuge. The frames then get spun which forces the honey out of the comb and into the metal tub. The entire house is immediately filled with the aromatic bliss of fresh honey. Warm drop biscuits just happened to be coming out of the oven about the same time. This is something that my writing skill can not do justice and you just have to experience to understand.
When they do the honey extraction it is done inside. You understand this when you see how they clean everything after the extracting process. They simply move all of the equipment and utensils out in the pasture. Within minutes, the bees can smell the honey and thousands of them move in and go to work cleaning. Within a few hours everything is spotless and the honey has been successfully returned to their hives – nothing is wasted in the bee world.
This summer I asked Mike if his bees could help my garden along. All of the blooms that I was getting on my plants would just fall to the ground. This means (most likely) that they weren’t getting pollenated. So we placed a nuke hive in my back yard which is half the size of a normal box. Yesterday we upgraded them to a bigger home. We calculated based on the weight that there was between 24-30 thousand bees in this small box. They are now enjoying the comforts of their new home which has twice the square footage, and I am enjoying a bountiful harvest of peppers.
Some interesting facts that I have learned about bees so far:
- They have a built in GPS and travel up to a five mile radius.
- The term “bee line” comes from the bees flight pattern in and out of the hive. You can stand back a watch their flight along this imaginary runway.
- There are certain bees that guard the door to the hive and if a bee from another hive tries to enter, they will kill it.
- One pound of bees contains between 4-5 thousand bees.
- They have a system of collectively using their wings to maintain a constant temperature inside the hive of exactly 93 degrees.
- Each type of bee has very specific assignments.
- Bees produce a type of glue that is called propolis that has all kind of medicinal properties.