We harvested honey this weekend. We usually seem to pick the hottest day of the year to harvest. It’s not because we like to do it on the hottest day of the year…it just works out that way. So, my father-in-law came over on 6:30 am Saturday at my request. “We’ll start early and beat the heat.” Of course, it didn’t occur to me that the sun isn’t truly up then. Bees get pretty testy when they are disturbed before the sun is shining bright in the sky. It’s also best to give the worker bees time to get out into the field. Fewer bees in the hive come harvest time is always a good thing. So, our early start didn’t exactly start how I expected but we still did get going with the harvest.
I have previously sworn off smoking the bees and the smoke/no-smoke argument is a religious debate amongst beekeepers. Personally, smoking bees leaves me with a bad cough and I can never find rolling papers anyhow. Um, no, actually, smoking bees with a smoker is what I mean. After last year’s episode, I decided that for the harvest, I would return to using smoke. As much as I hate to admit it, I am certain that the smoker made our harvest easier. For most interactions with the bees, I still do not think that using a smoker is necessary, but harvesting is not a typical interaction.
Brood (aka baby bees) on the left, honey on the right. Don’t confuse them on harvest day!
So, we pulled off all of the honey from the hives and promptly headed off to a soccer-palooza in the heat of the day. It was fantastic to…uh…have a break in the middle of honey harvest. After 4 or so hours of ball kicking, we returned to the honey-house and worked until every drop of honey was extracted, bottled and/or licked from our sticky (but exceedingly clean) fingers.
It’s great having bees. We don’t pay for honey any more, but I am not sure you could say honey is free. We definitely take our licks and they seem to be free though. My back is sore and my arms are tired. All told, we harvested around 150 pounds of honey which is much less than I expected or hoped for but it’s better than none!
Of course, the title to this post is a nod to the awesome Dire Straits Song linked here! Nothing at all to do with bees unfortunately…