Sep 5, 2014

Beekeeping 101

What I learned from an afternoon beekeeping.

I look like the ghost from The Library of Dr. Who.

[Lesson 1] Bee suits are white because honey bees are colorblind to it. To them, their entire white hive box is invisible. They can still see you, however, because they can detect movement (just like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park). I came up to them in slow, nervous steps, and watched with baited breath as my uncle wedged the hive box open to reveal stacks of honeycombs.

[Lesson 2] The guards at the front of the hive will bee-line (as it were) right for your face. If they feel that the hive is threatened, they will try to sting you at your most vulnerable spot. Even in a bee suit, they can see the movement of your eyes, and will fly towards them stinger-first. They get caught in the netting of the bee suit's mask and you have to blow a big puff of air pffffft! to send them away again.

[Lesson 3] Smoking bees isn't what slows them down. They think it's a fire, so they scarf down all the honey in the combs to save it in their stomachs. As soon as they gorge themselves, they're stoned and unable to fly. It'll take a few days for them to recover and regurgitate the honey back into the combs. It's an effective way to immobilize the bees, but if you're after their honey, you're "stinging" yourself in the foot.

[Lesson 4] After extracting the combs, cutting the beeswax caps, and draining the honey, all the hard work is worth it when you're enjoying a hot cup of your own honey-sweetened tea.

Making honey

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