I had my first honey harvest and I can't wait to tell you all about it!!!
I am taking this opportunity to share with you apart from my experience some of my bee series shots. I have used some of this shots randomly for a few contests but never in a complete post about bees.
The first time I attended a hive inspection was three years ago and it was thrilling! Bees are amazing creatures, the perfect example of collective work and much more interesting than anyone, that isn't familiar with them, might think. I was astonished when I realized that every hive has its own character that changes when a new queen bee comes! Over time I could tell if something is wrong by their sound and I could understand if a day is just not the one to annoy them :)
My first bee hive come as a present during a dinner party where I expressed my interest about them. A beekeeper that was there offered me one of its own even though we have never met before! Just one more taste of Cretan hospitality :)
My partner was as ignorant, about beekeeping, as I was and the first time we opened a hive by ourselves we were ridiculously nervous, I could barely hold a frame without dropping it! But as we kept dealing with them things was getting better. Still have a lot to learn but the hard part is behind. We read a lot and have tried out many techniques, we doubled the original hive, we even caught a runaway swarm but till now their honey production was too low to deprive it from them.
But this year we had an unexpected break! Eastern Crete, where I live suffered by a very dry winter and all the wild vegetation is barely surviving. This is the same vegetation that bees are fed off, so in general it was a bad year for honey production. On top of that and against the advice of all the experienced bee keepers we have talked about it, we didn't fed our bees at all, with sugar or other substitutes, so we didn't expect from them any production. Our happiness was double knowing that despite the extreme whether we collected 100% pure, organic honey in a moderate, but enough for our home, quantity!
The procedure itself is quite simple. The first step is to open the hive and remove one by one the frames that are filled with honey. The frames in the middle are the ones that usually the queen is giving birth, so we do not take them. Then we throw the bees that are sitting on the frames we want to take, back in the hive and rearrange the remaining frames so that there is no gap from one to another.
Then we put the frames in a spare hive for safe transportation and went to a friend beekeeper that has a honey extractor for the second step. There we removed the layer of wax that was sealing the honey and put the frames into the extractor. A few minutes spinning to the left, a few minutes spinning to the right and this is it, the honey is coming out from the bottom of the extractor!
The next step is just pleasure! Filling jars and tasting! The honey we took is a mixture of thyme, sage and other herbs along with fruit trees that blossom during spring and summer. Quite a unique taste, I am so proud of it :)
The next day we returned the drained frames back into the hives so that the bees can eat what is left and repair the damages I did, trying to unseal the honeycombs. We are so happy and so grateful for this harvest that I really cannot fully express it with words!
Thank you for taking the time to read it through, I think this was the longest post I have ever written :)
If you want to know more about me you can check out my introduction post.
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