Honey, Please Bee Mine

A great old book about bees.

Tea with Tim's honey, a yummy treat!

A few years ago, I fell in love with bees. I fall in love with nature quite easily, so this is not surprising. I wanted to get some bees of my own after reading The Golden Throng: A Book About Bees by Edwin Way Teale. Published in 1940, this wonderful book isn’t really about beekeeping… it’s just about bees. Their life cycle, their hive culture, their communication, their total bee-ness. I challenge anyone to begin reading this book & not become fascinated with bees!

Nice bees, I think they like me.

I read that a hive or two on our property could increase our orchard & garden yields by 40%. And also liking honey, well… I want bees. But I want lots of things all the time, and after hearing about the growing threat of colony collapse disorder, I got skittish. I’ve been buying local honey for years, so recently, I asked some local beekeepers to please let me watch &/or help them on a day there was beekeeping work to be done? I finally got my chance yesterday. Tim called, saying he was going to harvest some honey, would I like to come over & see the process? Would I!

Barkeeper, a pint of honey, please!

I have 2 books on the how-to’s of beekeeping, but reading was no substitute for seeing Tim’s hives in person, being with the bees & watching some of the harvest process. As valuable, if not moreso, was the wealth of information & experience Tim shared as he worked. Once employed by a commercial apiary in Colorado, he’s personally been keeping bees for 35 years. I got to watch him scrape the caps off the honeycomb cells with a hot knife, smelling the warm beeswax, as he loaded the frames into a centrifuge-like drum. Then he “spun” the honey off the frames & could dispense it thru a tap at the bottom. And of course, we went outdoors to see several hives. It was an awesome afternoon! I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures during the working part of the afternoon (I still don’t think like a blogger), but just before I left, I remembered. Tim filled a jar of freshly spun honey for me to take home & then took my picture standing next to some busy bees. They were collecting honey residue from the spent frames, to take back to their hive. The bees were so thick in the air, they were bumping into me by accident. Not a single sting, they were that polite about it… but there were so many bees, it was so cool! It was difficult trying to tell Tim which button to push on my cellphone camera without laughing & maybe getting bees in my mouth :-)

"OK, take the picture. Hurry up, I'm going to laugh (in flies a bee, gulp)!"

Needless to say, I am now more a-buzz about bees than ever. I plan to spend time this winter procuring the basic set-up equipment for 2 hives, so by spring, I can order 2 queen bees & their small entourage of workers. My biggest challenge may be to build a protective, bear-proof (high voltage?) perimeter around my hives. Remember the bear raid on my chicken coop back in April? Loving nature as I do, I think black bears are awesome too… but… get your own bees, you fat, lazy, opportunistic hive-crushers! Sheesh.

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8 Responses to “Honey, Please Bee Mine”

  1. peggy fussell Says:

    Fantastic! Ok, that’s it! I am moving in! I have just two words of wisdom… first, a friend of mine foiled the critters who wanted his honey by putting the hives on the roof of his house. Of course he had a flat roof with easy access. Do you have a high spot that the bears can’t reach? Would they climb up onto your roof? That would be a sight.
    Second, no more dressing yourself up in a long flowing white skirt and imagining that you are a character in the Great Gatsby as you sweep across the grassy lawn. Personal experience (12 stings on the thighs) taught me that.

    I can’t wait to see the labels you make for your honey, honey!

    • henniemavis Says:

      HA! Yes, long twirly skirts will be risky if bees like to go up them. That’s funny, because I still had my running clothes on when I stopped over to Tim’s. The bees did land on my legs & crawl, but running skirts have built-in shorts underneath, to keep out nosey bees ;-)

      Nosey bears will be the bigger issue, so yes, maybe an “unreachable” penthouse location for my hives is worth some thought. Thanks!

  2. mary taitt Says:

    I used to love bees and help care for them–my next-door neighbor raised them when I was a kid. Such a cool project.

    He would go out in his bee suit and I would go out in a tank top shorts and bare feet, and he would get stung and I wouldn’t.

    I used to think bees liked me.

    Now, I would probably not raise bees because I cannot have sugar–OR HONEY. But I still like them. I wish I lived near you and could be part of all the excitement of hens and bees.

    Peggy and I will both move in with you!! :-D

    • henniemavis Says:

      Uh oh, if both you & Peggy are moving in, I’m gonna need a bigger house! We can be the women in Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees… but then there’s the little matter of what to do with our husbands, oops. HA!

  3. mike Says:

    Guess you’ll need to update your running gear.
    You need light-colored shorts so that we can see more bees.

    But, fine, that settles it.
    Next trip to the library, we’re getting a book on bees.

    I’ve been curious lately as to exactly HOW they make honey.

  4. heatherlorin Says:

    My summer is starting to seem a little boring compared to yours! I saw my first bees of the year at Ginter Park Botanical Gardens today. They were busy, busy, busy. I kept my distance – just in case.

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