Honey Harvest

At our last few mentoring sessions over at Craig’s we have been focusing on the honey harvest.  This will forever be known as the time of year when the bees are exceptionally angry despite our best efforts to sedate them with smoke and Bee Go (a horrifically stinky compound that drives bees down the hive and away from the frames that will be harvested).  Yes, my ankles have been mercilessly injected with venom which is not so bad except for an intense desire to scratch at 2am in the morning!

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Frames (very heavy) full of honey over at Craig’s.

The basic drill is to go through the hive and select frames (not from the brood boxes) with honey that have a capped area of at least 70%.  Selecting frames with capped honey is important because it is ripe as opposed to the uncapped, green honey.  By ripe, I am referring to moisture content.  Bees gather nectar from flowers and bring it back to the hive.  They swallow and regurgitate the nectar over a  span of about two weeks until it becomes a thickened liquid.  The bees continue to lower the moisture content by fanning the thickened liquid with their wings to create the final sterile product (honey) which has only 19% water.  Unfortunately some beekeepers take shortcuts and harvest green honey only to adulterate it by various nefarious methods so that it looks, feels and tastes like genuine honey.  This is a huge disservice to the bees and to the bounty that they have worked tirelessly to create.

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Craig and Worth moving the bees along.

With 10 frames bursting with ripe honey, Craig demonstrates his leaf blower method to quickly and effectively move along the remaining stragglers.  We place the hives on the back of Craig’s pickup as these will be transported to his extracting workshop.  The work is heavy and the boxes are cumbersome so it is a two man job to handle the move.  My back is aching and I am sure my arms have grown by two inches.  I am thinking… the hives will have to be off-loaded as well… Worth and I will definitely be investing in some smaller frames and boxes.

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While these ones are resting, the bee yard has a gazillion bees flying around!  About 500 are on the back of Worth’s suit.

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While removing the frames for extraction, we also do a hive inspection.

 

Mean while, back at the Ranch our furry friends are still visiting frequently.  Worth set the trail cam to get some short video footage.

 

At the bottom right side of the screen the bear is leaving the scene at a bit of a pace.  I wonder if he got a surprise from the electric fence?

 

Up & Coming Experiments

     Recently my mum, Alexis, and I visited Texas. During our stay we ate at the Salt Lick BBQ Smokehouse. Of course having an interest in cooking I left inspired and, curious to see if I could recreate my own version of the tangy but sweet barbecued flavoured meats that we tried.  I decided I would try to craft a similar kind of barbecue using our own honey which would contribute to some unique flavours.

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At the Ranch everyone still has a nice selection of August flowers to craft some interesting flavours!

     Anyway, I guess I should introduce myself to provide some context. Hi, my name is Skylar and I am the daughter of a beekeeper. I am currently a fourth year university student studying a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Ecology. This particular degree places great emphasis on a holistic, sustainable and experimentative lifestyle, hence I am naturally drawn to create my recipes. However, fashion is my main interest as my Human Ecology major is Clothing, Textiles, and, Material Culture with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. Although I like to cook, my real love in life is designing and sewing clothing.

     In my upcoming blog posts, I will be providing some interesting information about storing honey and look forward to exploring various aspects of beekeeping clothing.  Specifically, I will be making some modifications to Mum’s bee suit to prevent the bees from stinging her ankles (since she refuses to wear rubber boots).  The bees also keep stinging Craig through his wet gloves, so I intend to determine what the problem is and find a solution to prevent the ongoing attacks.  Finally, I will be sharing some of my own tried and tested recipes.  I am formulating a barbecue one now and will be using some of our soon to be harvested honey in my creation!

Wildlife Haven

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The Wee One is Hungry!

 

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Still hanging around…

 

Worth and I went out to the Ranch on August 5th.  Our drone layer hive lay silent with  ants meandering across the undulating wax landscape scavenging the sweet bounty that was left behind.  Our AWOL hive was now bursting at the seams with its newest members.  We added another super on top and hope to see more capped honey on our return.

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Brood with Capped Honey

 

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Little Buddies Hard at Work

 

Our trail cam captured images of another furry friend with a very keen sense of smell.      Fortunately it is only a late night visit around the perimeter of the electric fence rather than a late night snack!

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This bear looks bigger than the last one.

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Moving on – phew!

 

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Bumble Bee

 

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Not so keen on these…

 

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Another Muncher!