This last week was sweet with honey. Literally. Eric’s dad has had a hive of bees living in the walls of his shop for over 3 years. Eric asked him when we were here this spring if he could try and remove the hive. His hope was to save the hive so that he could have his own bees. He had his first hive when he was 12. His first honey harvest was about a year later. He studied up on bees. Learned all about them. He spent the next 7 years working on his hives. Building new ones. Selling some honey, but giving most of it away. Then, he joined the ARMY and had to leave all the bees behind. No bees in boot camp! So the bees all died.
For as long as I have known Eric, he has talked about having bees again. He loves bees. Loves building the hive. Feeding them to get them established. Monitoring them so they have enough room in the hive. Protecting them from other insects that will eat them. Disease and mites that will kill them. And all the animals out there that love bees and honey. Like skunks.
Now his desire to have bees has changed a little. Before it was mostly just for fun. A hobby. Now, it’s more for our family. We use a lot of honey. Our children love it. And it costs a whole lot of money. Raw organic honey (which is great for asthma and allergies-both of which we have) is about $50 a gallon. So, if we can have our own bees, working and making honey for us, then we can eat a lot of honey and hopefully keep the asthma and allergies from flaring up too much.
So early Friday morning, Eric was covered from head to toe to protect him from the bees. He started by tearing off the siding of the shop. He would stop every few minutes and mist them with sugar water to keep the bees busy eating and not thinking about stinging him. It was long slow procedure. After removing about 3 feet of siding, he began to extract the honeycomb dripping with honey. Some honeycomb was put into the new hives and the rest was put into a bucket to extract the honey later. His goal was to find the queen bee. After 4 hours, 10 bee stings, and about 4 gallons of honey, he called it a day. He’s not sure if he got the queen bee. Never saw her. Just hoping that she made it into the new hive alive. If so, then the bees will make their new home in his new hives. If not… then we either buy a queen bee (never thought we’d be buying a queen!) or find another hive to remove. Eric said it will be about 6 weeks before he knows whether the queen survived.
That afternoon and all the next day was spent filtering the honey. It was a very messy project. We ran the honey through different strainers to the point that it looked like what you would buy in a store. It was full of bees and honeycomb/wax when we started. When we finally finished, we had 11 quarts and 8 pints!
Some interesting facts about Bees…
-All honey is made by the female worker bees
-There is one queen that lays all the eggs and has life expectancy of 2-6 years
-All other bees live 12 weeks – 6 months
-It takes 7 pounds of honey to make one pound of wax.
-A hive in Oregon needs 40 pounds honey to make it through a winter
– One bee makes about 1/4 tsp of honey during it’s life