I mentioned Buddy the Beekeeper in last night’s blog. When I visited him yesterday to get photographs for the paper, he showed me how he “robs” his honeybee hives.
He lights a small fire in a can with a spout containing some cotton, then he waves the smoke over the bees after he pulls the lid off the top of their hive. The smoke is supposed to calm the bees, but they swarm quite a bit, and Buddy gets stung right away. I take a few steps backward, careful to move slowly and not attract their attention.
Buddy checks each of his six hives and doesn’t find a lot of extra honey until he gets to the last hive. He pulls out a frame filled with a honey-laden honeycomb.
He asks me to step closer and hand him a brush to sweep the bees from the honeycomb. I do, not without some trepidation, and a couple of bees buzz around my head. He places the frame in a dishpan to catch any drips of sticky goodness that might escape the comb and hands it to me.
I back away with a bee buzzing in my hair, but it doesn’t sting.
A few feet down the path Buddy has mown around his hives, I swipe my finger across the comb where it’s oozed a few drops of clear golden honey and taste it, all danger forgotten.
So sweet and good it is—maybe worth getting stung for, anyway. I’m a happy girl when Buddy says I can take the honey home that “we” harvested. I see hot homemade biscuits in my near future.
I leave Buddy the Beekeeper’s house with a new admiration for the bees that work so tirelessly to turn flower nectar into both honey and comb.
I feel a little ashamed for robbing the bees, but know that Buddy won’t take honey from the lower brood boxes; he’s always careful to leave enough to sustain the bees through the winter.
I leave with a new respect for Buddy too, who’s been “foolin’ with bees” ever since he was a kid. The food chain is utterly dependent on these industrious little critters who pollinate the plants that produce much of what we eat--and the people who still keep the bees.