It’s that long-awaited time of year — the honey harvest! Tomorrow we’ll be up to our elbows (quite literally) in sticky delicious honey, but before the fun can start, there’s work to do… namely, collecting our haul!
The honey we’ll be extracting is in the shallower boxes, called “supers,” on top of the hives. Collecting them would be easy, except for one small problem: they’re full of bees! Since we of course don’t want to take the bees back home with us, we start by asking them politely to surrender the honey and head on out of the supers…. well, more or less.
We do get a bit of help in the communication department — see the black-topped little boxes on the hives above? They’re called “fume boards.” (Appealing, I know.) Inside is a sheet of cloth, which we’ve drizzled with a super-stinky solution that the bees absolutely loathe the smell of. Trust me, it’s nasty; I wish I had smell-o-vision here, except that I wouldn’t want to inflict upon you the horrid stench of bubblegum-meets-rotting-socks! A highly disturbing combination, and one which sends the bees running as quick as they can in the opposite direction — downward into the hive and away from the honey box. There are a few other methods of accomplishing the same goal, but they usually involve one-way “escape” doors that the bees have to navigate. These work, but they can take days, and there are always plenty of unlucky bees that don’t quite get the idea. We’ve found the “smelly” trick to be by far the simplest and easiest.
Even so, the exodus takes a bit of time; the usual suggestion is two or three minutes, but we find it takes a bit longer for everyone to find their way out. And we’re happy to cool our heels in the shade for a few extra minutes… and maybe a few minutes more:
Then it’s just a simple matter of loading the boxes into the truck and bringing them back to the Honey House. (Well, you usually have to stop for an ice cream somewhere along the way — it’s part of the deal.)
We’ll have photos of the spectacularly messy Part 2 soon — stay tuned!