Our first season as bumbling beekeepers is winding down. You would hardly guess it by watching the bees pour in and out of their beehive! According to all the local bee experts, August 15th marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn for the honeybees. I’m not entirely convinced that bees use calendars but I do imagine our recent cooler nights and couple bouts of rain have signaled to them that it is time to think about cleaning house for the cooler months. We are starting to see more and more dead bees around the yard and when we checked out the hive this past weekend, we found them working busily to cap all the honey they have been making throughout the nectar-flowing warm months.
Since our hive is relatively new and we are not sure how much honey they will need to make it through the winter, we have only taken a little bit for ourselves. We took about a half comb from the hive and crushed and strained it in a somewhat messy process in our kitchen. We feel like the richest folks on earth to have two gorgeous, golden jars of honey to taste and use. We got about 12 ounces of fresh, raw honey from the little bit of comb we took from the hive. After straining the honey and pouring into jars as well as we could, we put the bucket, bowl and remaining wax outside again and in less than a day, the honey bees had rescued back every last drop of honey. Teri and I were dazzled to find that not one single drop went to waste!
While keeping bees has not proven to be “hard” exactly, there is a bit of a learning curve. We have made mistakes and not always been as smooth, graceful and confident as the books suggest. We have had to keep reminding ourselves that the bees don’t really know they are being “kept” and that they know best how they want to live, build comb, and go about their business and even if it gets a bit inconvenient for us (crowded comb, for example), we don’t have the hive just to get the maximum amount of honey. The bees have calmly pollinated our flowers, herbs, fruits and veggies and we have received appreciative reports from our neighbors for their abundant garden crops as well. Besides, seeing a plethora of bees as we have this year–honeybees, bumblebees, wasps and others–gives us hope that there may be a way to right some of the wrongs we humans have done.