Bees are truly the most wonderful creatures. They transfer pollen and fertilize plants so they can grow and continue producing. Without bees to do this, most plants, flowers and food crops would die off. I have read that one out of every three bites of food we eat is thanks to bees keeping our food growing. That’s sort of a big deal.
Rob has had a love for bees for many years and he decided to start a hive or two as a hobby, just for fun, and to get a little honey in the process for ourselves and to give to family.
(Rob checking the frames in the hives)
We’ve had good years and bad years. Unfortunately, bad years usually consist of entire hives dying. Sometimes because of weather, but mainly it’s because of humans and the industrial agriculture we have, overuse of pesticides and spraying, and a real lack of forage as we continue to plow through land and ‘pave paradise’.
But we keep plugging along and now that we have the room and the abundance of food for them to forage, we are building our hives and hope to really maintain a large number of hives at Scarlett Homestead.
We have a lot of blackberry bushes on our land and we hope that this fall proves to be another yummy yield of what we call our “blackberry honey”. It’s thick, rich, dark and fruity, and so, so incredibly good.
(If you ever have the chance to see a honey extraction first hand, you must take your finger and stick it right into the fresh comb and just go for it. This is my favorite way to eat it. Oh my. It doesn’t get fresher than this I tell ya!)
We harvest our honey in the fall. Usually in October, but there’s been a few years we stretched it until early November depending on the weather and how the bees were doing. We have our own manual honey extractor, so we do everything on our own, onsite, so it’s totally pure and untouched or processed in any way. Would you like a jar of honey now? We can help you.
(This is what a full frame looks like before it is scraped to uncap the combs. Once scraped, it goes into the extractor so the honey comes out easily.)
Many local friends and colleagues are regular customers for us now. A lot of people swear that local raw honey helps them with allergies every year. I love that! I personally have tried eating honey every day during allergy seasons, but unfortunately my head still gets puffy from congestion and my nose rivals Rudolph every Spring. That’s just me though. I’m one hot mess after the winter. One thing I do swear by however is honey for a sore throat, when you are sick. Whether it’s just a big spoonful or put into tea, it’s the best soother I know, especially from a natural standpoint. Oh, and obviously we’re baking with it. Such a great sugar substitute!
Not everyone is going to welcome the sight of a bee near them, or especially landing on them, but be assured that if it’s fluffy, kind of fat and has a cute, soft little rounded bum, it’s probably just a honey bee, out doing her job. They are super gentle, do not typically get aggressive, unless provoked or feel the need to protect the hive and queen, and they will gladly leave you alone because they are busy and can’t be bothered by whatever it is you are even doing there. If you ever get the chance, let one crawl on your hand. They are very soft and tickly.
(We are safe when working with our bees, and always suit up in proper gear, but I am a sucker for these little girls and will gladly pick one up to get a closer look. Also, why do my hands look so wrinkled? Let’s all ignore this, shall we?)
I have taken to making soaps, salves and lipgloss over the years and many friends and family, including myself, have found that these natural products have helped with eczema, rashes and it’s a natural cleaner and healer with open wounds. I put it on all of our cuts and scrapes and it’s so nice to know that you are using a product that works, and doesn’t have medicated ingredients, especially on our little ones.
I will be sharing my methods and ingredients with you when we harvest this fall and give you step by step pictures for how I make all these products, and obviously, how we also extract our honey.
If you are a local WA resident on the coast, or on the eastern side of the state, let us know if you would like any honey. I will keep you updated as to when we have “stolen” every last drop from our fuzzy little friends.
(This is a little outdated. By about three years. But Judah was a pretty cute honey bee for his first Halloween. Now tell me, are you really scared of a tiny little bee? Look how cute and cuddly they can be!)
– The Homesteaders Wife