Tuesday, October 4, 2016

One of the great things about keeping bees...

...is that they clean up after themselves.

Sunday afternoon, my family and I extracted honey from our two bee hives. It's a sticky mess that leaves the extraction equipment covered in honey. If I had to clean it all up I think I would quit keeping bees.

However, one of the many incredible attributes of bees is that they will remove every trace of honey from any object that you put out for them to find. So, all of the boxes of frames that have had their honey extracted (by a hand-cranked centrifuge), the centrifuge itself, the pots and buckets used to catch the "cappings" and honey - all covered in honey residue - can just be placed outside in front of the hives and the little fanatics will descend.

Tens of thousands of bees, and bee-mouths, go to work recovering the left-overs and restoring it to honey cells inside of the hive to be used for winter food. Almost no honey goes to waste. It is either in a jar in our house, or it ends up back inside the hive.

The equipment is cleaner than if I had spent hours scrubbing it with soap and water.

The cappings are the tops of the honey comb which are sliced off with a hot electric knife and allowed to fall into a pot. They are saturated with honey. Once the cappings are removed from the frames which hold the comb, the frames are placed in a centrifuge and the honey is extracted from the open cells. The cappings are allowed to drip through a strainer until they have no more flowing honey and then they too are put outside to let the bees clean the honey off of the wax. When the girls - all the workers are girls - are through with it we have raw wax that is ready to be processed.

Bees are wonderful creatures and I am convinced that God, from The Beginning, intended that Man would cooperate with them. Their self-cleaning nature is only one of many amazing characteristics with which they have been endowed.

Here they are, cleaning up the cappings
 and two of the hive boxes and frames...listen.