Honey Bees Making Honey

Honey bees Making Honey

The more our society depends on technology, the more I try to find ways to bring myself back to a world without computers, electronic devices, apps, and social media. I’m always looking for activities, outlets, and services created by hand. Lately, I have started to explore how to build a terrarium; see video here. I always knew that beekeeping is an art. Still, until I visited a bee field last summer and saw beehive colonies up close and honey bees making honey, that art seemed very distant.

Bee Colonies

With a bit of orientation from local experts and a taste of natural honey, it didn’t take much to distinguish between artisanal honey and the supermarket version.

Although commercial honey is quite acceptable, when you try a unique and pure product with hints of wildflowers, you start realizing that maybe it’s time to reconsider that commercial product.

It’s a delicious adventure at the Trout Brook Valley in Easton, CT, where I had the chance to get really close to the beehives, touch honey still from the wax, learn about the fascinating process, and photograph everything up close.

Each hive contains between 4 and 6 layers of boxes, and the most fantastic part is that the bees know exactly what to do.

Bees Making Honey

They fly off into the wild, pollinating trees as they go, to collect nectar, pollen, and propolis from flowers, trees, and just about anything that’s in bloom. Then they instinctively head back to the hive. Once inside, they handle the nectar to the worker bees, who, in turn, search for empty sets of wax cells to mix and store that nectar.

Buzy Bees

As bees fly their wings (the buzzing sound we hear), it creates a fan effect, reducing the moisture in the nectar by 85 %, concentrating the flavor, and creating honey by nature’s most intriguing alchemy.

As if that is not magical enough, bees know when honey is ready; and when it is, they cap the comb with wax. That’s when the beekeeper knows that honey is ready to be harvested. Stick a finger in a wax full of honey. Raw honey!

Raw honey

The process of extraction begins in the kitchen. You have to scrape the wax with a hot knife into a piece of cheesecloth hanging over a bowl for a few days, allowing the honey to drip. Then, it is placed into jars.

Many beekeepers produce a wide variety of products from honey. Candles, lip balm, hand cream, and other cosmetics are standard products that come out of kitchens after a lovely active summer. Farmer’s markets are great places to find them.

Pure honey never goes bad, but it does crystallize over time. That’s not a problem. You can simply place it in a warm water bath for a few minutes, and your honey will look as rich and vicious as before. Honey can also be creamed.

Creamed Honey

While our lives continue to evolve and we get more dependent on technology, the activities of honeybees have continued unchanged and unaffected by social and cultural development. It is as if the actions of the honeybees follow the course that Mother Nature, in her wisdom, has prescribed for them. While we as humans, either individually or as a group of people, are still looking for a clue.

It’s the complexity of the process, the magic in the making, and the culture that comes away from beekeeping that fascinates me. The serenity of the bee’s existence, the integrity of their commitment, and their approach to life are admirable. I find it’s earnest, innocent, irresistible, therapeutic, and a lot cool.

 

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