Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hive Talkin

If you'd like an exercise in overcoming fear, trying opening a hive of 30,000+ bees, scraping off some of their comb (for maintenance), and then lifting up a few frames for a look-see. I can understand their agitation. If some giant came into my home, rooted around in my pantry, and then decided to take a long look at my babies, I might have a few choice words to say as well. 

My neighbor and fellow beekeeper Cindy came by today to help me remove "burr comb," the comb honeybees form in between frames. While they are simply looking for more space for honey storage, burr comb is a hassle to the beekeeper, as it causes the frames to stick together, hampering access. It's a concern for the beekeeper, not the bees. 
We got the burr comb off, though, and I was able to view a vacated queen cell, drone cells, brood (baby bees in the making), capped honey, uncapped honey, newly formed honeycomb (oh, the smell, folks, THE SMELL!!!), and about a jillion active, albeit peeved, honeybees. 

While my heart never did pound feverishly in the midst of the hype, I did sweat like the dickens. It's intimidating, all that buzzing and movement and, well, LIFE! I'm there for them; I'm there advocate, their steward. I want to do right by my bees, and for my bees to do right by me. 
I'm finding one of my favorite things about tending to the bees is actually the way my fingers smell after I've lit my smoker, sort of a cross between a campfire and a high-end cigarette. It takes me places, places long since forgotten, hidden down memory lane. 

May your week ahead be pure bliss. 

*Small Measure: Plant flowers for bees! If you have access to some grass or lawn or even an abandoned lot, stoop, or balconey (even a median strip will do!), consider sowing some nectar-producing seeds for honeybees and other pollinators. They're particularly found of bee balm, mint, anise hyssop, borage, catmint, echinacea, buckwheat, yellow mustard, and basil. Bees get a source of food for transforming into honey, humans gain access to some amazing culinary and medicinal herbs-everyone wins! 


Anonymous said...

Sounds fantastic!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea, to plant herbs that help the bees. Thank you for this lovely blog and for your chicken video (which is how I found you).

nicole said...

ahh, i remember that smell very fondly. my father was a hobby beekeeper for years. even now, just smelling beeswax brings me back to his backyard hives.

What Possessed Me said...

What a wonderful post. I can almost smell the honeycomb (though I have to use my imagination because I've never smelled honeycomb). I have a few bees that visit the flowers on my balcony. It gives me a little thrill to see them.

Megan said...

My Rose of Sharon bush is still blooming and the bees and hummingbirds are crazy about it! I love watching the bees get those big orange bloomers of pollen on their legs!

Anonymous said...

Hi! My fiance and I are both from Candler. I am an avid follower of Design Sponge and got super excited when I saw a fellow Ashevillian as a writer!

My fiance is so interested in starting bee hives, it was great to read your post. Do you sell your honey? We were in town this past weekend and looked everywhere, including the farmer's market and the Sourwood festival but it seems like Sourwood honey has all but taken over. I would love to buy some of your honey if it's available.

Ashley English said...

Hi Lauren! Glad to see some like-minded Candler-ites! As for the honey, I won't actually be extracting any honey for personal use (or to sell) until next Spring. The honey that is currently on the hives is for the bees, to get them through the winter.
If you're looking for local honey producers, I'd suggest either Wild Mountain apiaries (you can get their honey on Saturday at the Asheville City Market) or Haw Creek honey, available at Earth Fare and Greenlife. Delicious! And so nice to "meet" you!