Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How To Harvest Honey: City Edition

1. Go to a beautiful Brooklyn rooftop beehive around noon, when the sun is high. Bees do not like being disturbed when they sense a chance of rain, and of course don't like having their honey stolen. This gloomy Sunday morning, atop a brownstone in Ft. Greene with affable veteran beekeeper John Howe, was incredibly humid for sticky honey extraction.
2. Make sure your bees have survived one winter before attempting to extract honey! This beekeeper decided to only extract from his stronger hive this summer. June's endless rain was a tough hit!
3. Instead of smoking the bees, which can irritate them after they've emerged from confused stupor, this beekeeper sprayed a fume board with this stuff and put it in the honey super. It smells a lot like bitter almonds. The bees hate the smell and leave the honey super.
4. Pry the honey-heavy frames from the super. Look at all that excess comb on top! There's a reason they're called busy bees.
5. Remove each frame slowly and deliberately. Be present 100%.
6. Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the honeybee, who has capped each hexagonal cell of honey with beeswax.
7. Remove the frames, close the hives, and take the frames to the "honey room." (Climb through roof hatch and down ladder... helping hands highly advisable.) Slice the wax cappings off with a hot knife, releasing the honey and catching it through a strainer.
8. This metal thing is an extractor. It works by spinning four honey-rich frames with a hand crank and catching the sweet, sticky nectar as energy sucks it out of the cells, leaving them shell-like and empty. They will be replaced in the hive this way, so that bees don't need to rebuild the comb from scratch.
9. Pour the caught honey into yet another strainer.
10. Stick your finger beneath a drop, savor it, and bid your fellow beekeepers goodbye!

No comments:

Post a Comment