“I’m covered in bees!”
― Eddie Izzard
My Dad was born in the wrong century, his real vocation is to be a gentleman farmer. Unfortunately he’s a bit hobbled by things like the 21st century and neighbors too close for his liking, but he makes up for these inconveniences by working on his land to turn it into a wild kind of estate.
His projects have run the gamut, including clearing a handful of acres for a meadow, digging for a pond (I’ve driven the excavator and the power trip is enormous!), digging a well and building up a natural stone wall around it, planting an orchard (a bit sparse still but we have high hopes), and planting berry bushes. All of these are ongoing, and lot of fun to help with when we’re in town.
But as far as I’m concerned, his most interesting venture has been beekeeping.
Amy and Ryan were in town and tagged along like troopers when I wanted to watch him start the summer harvest. As a reward they got to witness the (hilarious, I’m sure) sight of me running to escape a disgruntled worker that at one point tangled up in my ponytail. I’m just glad he didn’t summon his friends!
Nothing alarming happening here, oh no, sir. Just keep very still.
Wild honey, especially from the forest, looks nothing like what you buy in the store. It’s as dark as molasses and almost punchy with flavor.
This venture has been completely hobby based. Dad’s built up his supply of equipment and gear piece by piece and solved problems as they’ve come up.
To pick one example, not entirely at random, the problem of bears has been solved by that electric fence. No one has figured out a solution to the problem of bears in the neighborhood, however.
Once he smokes the bees and takes the hive boxes he wants to harvest, the next step is to extract the honey.
You use an electric hot knife to slice off the cap of the comb and a machine that uses centrifugal force to spin the honey out of it. Then you take the comb (still intact) back to the bees who will refill it with honey for themselves and use it to survive the winter. Resourceful animals, they make litres of the stuff a year. Dad and I experimented around a bit one evening, entertainment being somewhat harder to find around here, and turned some of those hive caps into a brick of pure beeswax. When you need to strain a pot of boiling hot liquid, a t-shirt is a normal substitute for cheesecloth right?
The only problem is that we can’t quite eat the stuff fast enough. Amy went home with a jar of it, the better to drink American style tea, my dear, but we need to figure out some other schemes too.
all images my own