Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Sweetest Crop of Them All

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best…" and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called”.
~ A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh

Have you ever given much thought to the honey you buy? Like where it came from or how it was actually made? I’ve spoken about honey now and then in this blog so since now is when much of the nations honey supply is being gathered by beekeepers from coast to coast, I thought you may be interested to see how it all works.

Bees gather the flower nectars and bring them back to the hive.

They mix the nectars with enzymes from their saliva and deposit the liquid in the cells. Then they evaporate some of the moisture out of the nectar by fanning their wings in the hive. When the moisture content is just right they cap the cells with wax for lengthy storage. In the photo above, the white stuff is the wax cappings over the ripe honey. The cells in the background contain honey that still needs some evaporation and/or filling.

Then I come along and take just some of those finished frames of honey. I must leave a certain number of pounds for them to use for their winter food. If I take too much I could cause them to starve and die over the winter months. The presence of honey in the hive also helps to equalize sudden temperature changes. In the Pacific Northwest each hive will need approx 60 pounds for winter survival. I usually leave more in case of a long, cold spring.

Then I scratch off the wax cappings, put the frames in an extractor and spin the honey out by centrifugal force.

The honey is then sieved to remove bits of wax and decanted into jars.

Isn’t it beautiful? I think it is. And it is ever so sweet and wonderful to eat. Just ask Winnie the Pooh.

In Bloom In My Garden Today: green beans, tomato, basil, oregano, zucchini, cucumber, black mondo grass, lavender, borage, veronica, fushia, rose, nepeta, salvia, russian sage, Daphne caucasica ‘Eternal Fragrance’ and ‘Summer Ice’, echinacea, liatris, coryopsis, caryopteris, begonia, alyssum, lobelia, heather, hosta, gallardia, Star Jasmine, anise hyssop, gaura

Bee on Chive photo courtesy of Pat Chissus
the rest are the author's photos


Cindy said...

Thanks for sharing. When our rental is complete, I will start bugging Hubs about our bees again!

Right now it would just be not nice to add one more thing to his list!

Keep informing us about BEES Please!


now you need a killer honey recipe.

Joan said...

Hi Cindy

Thank you so much for letting me know you like reading about this...I'm never sure what my readers really like or don't like about my blog. I appreciate knowing you like reading about bees and gardens. I think they go hand in hand.

You are right! I DO need a killer honey you have one? I wonder how hard it would be to make Baklava! Now that would be a wonderful honey filled treat!

Thanks for reading!

Cindy said...

Gosh I don't! That is a shame!!!!

Baklava sounds GREAT....

Hope you find a good one, I've never made it!