Monday, June 25, 2012

Learning About Bees

Last week, I tweeted about how was so excited to join my company's social enterprise centered around urban beekeeping. It's been going on for a while, with limited membership, and I finally got a chance to become a member. So last Wednesday, I finally got to don a beekeeping suit and learn about bees, beekeeping, and etc, at Beekeeping 101.

The first half of the session was devoted to learning about bees, how they make honey, their lifecycle, the hive, basically all of the basics. Then we got hands on: trying on the suits as well as harvesting some honey that was removed from the hive that morning. It doesn't get any fresher.

Above, I am peeling the wax seal off of the honeycomb: once the honey has been sealed in, you know it's ready to eat – if there isn't a seal, the honey-making process isn't complete.

Here, I'm tasting some honey that dripped onto my fingers. YUM. Because the honey is hyper-local, the flavor comes from flowers in the area that are in bloom. If you take honey from our hives next month, it will have a completely different color, flavor, and texture based on which plants are in bloom then – I love the changeability and the not-one-capture-is-the-same quality of honey as a food product. Honey bees will go up to 3 miles to find pollen, so if you have allergies you should get honey made from around where you live as it will contain the allergens that affect you and you can build up immunity.

Once the wax seals are released, you put the honeycomb trays into this modified bucket with a spinner (like a massive salad spinner) and you turn the handle to force the honey out of the wax comb. The bucket has a spigot on the bottom so you can access the honey in a controlled fashion.

Next steps were to filter the honey (get bits of wax and etc out) and then it's ready to eat! We all took little 50ml jars of honey home to enjoy – The Irishman used mine to make goats cheese and honey ice cream which was absolutely amazing.

After Wednesday's lesson, I am a big fan of bees in general and honey bees specifically. We all know they are in danger so I'm going to try even harder to promote happy and healthy bees however I can. The Irishman has agreed that when we finally buy a house, we can have bee-friendly plants in our garden which is a win-win: bee friendly plants = better pollination = better produce = happy Danielle and happy bees. 


  1. He won't let you get your own hive?

  2. Aww... this was lovely to read and you're so lucky to get to do this through work. Happy bees makes the world a happier place.

  3. @knile: our back patio won't be big enough for a hive + me drinking iced coffee on a deck chair. @kat - thanks! it was such a treat/great opportunity, I'm obsessed with bees and honey now.