Monday, September 6, 2010

To BEE or not to BEE! WE BEEd

We took off for Wheatland, population  2,275 for Labor Day learning!  The little town of Wheatland is about 25 minutes from our door step, to the home of a fellow homeschooling family.  GM and her son C, invited us out to help and watch the honey harvest!  Oh you know I was all over that.  
We have just finished the butterflies and the bees are next for our science!  Perfect timing!  So to Wheatland we went!

That is the back of Abby's head and that fine looking bee catcher is Gabriel.  Excitement was building!!

Eric got into it, I mean he loved it...Anna, well, not so much. 
Eric had just a hat with cheese cloth, the old fashion bee hat...I put a shirt over Anna's head, but she waited with me, while Eric took pics then she went to the orchard to watch the process.

This is the smoker, it has a piece of smoldering burlap in there, and they pump the smoke on the bees, to calm them down a bit. You see, the queen bee, she gets a might mad, when her hive is being destroyed and sends out pheromones,which  tells the other bees to attack whatever is doing the damage to her hive.
Eric took these right up there by the hives.
See the bees? oh my they were so loud and angry!!
Poor Gabe, his head got to hot, and he got a massive nose was hot! That is one of the reasons, it had to be done today.  We are due for a cold snap come Wednesday, and you can't get the honey out of the frames.  How do you get the honey out? Keep watching!!  The great extractor is next!
Each of the frames of honey combs are placed in this drum and spun and the centrifugal force pulls the honey out and to the bottom of the cylinder.  The bottom is a spigot. Some folks get ones with moters, but they are very expensive, this is all done with brute force!  It keeps the combs intact.
There is a crank that is right there by Anna.  You crank that till it gets a whirling and then let it go...then look down to see the nectar:

Now, the bees are all around still, but no longer mad.  They are just wanting to get the honey back, the combs and the wax!  So they are buzzing all around, but not on you, just picking up the honey and bringing back to the hives!  They will replace with new frames, and these bees, rebuild! I was blown away...they rob back! They are a bit crazy about getting the honey and do kamikaze dives into the honey as it is coming out of the spigot.  They got 5 gallons of honey, and we were honored to bring a quart jar home with us.  I am so excited.  We all ate some of the comb, and liked it, but the honey...oh the mouth is watering thinking of it!
Here is a funny video of the extractor, a bee going for a ride, and the poor bee coming out the spigot (a bit like a Willy Wonka part), and if you look close, you will see my Abby with a praying mantis on her arm also!
I almost forgot, we had only one get stung, Eric. It went thru the gloves. The bee gave his stinger and his life to protect the hive!  G put some itchy spray on it, and Eric pulled the stinger out, without a tear or a bit of pain on his face.  He is so tough! I tell you!

1 comment:

Sandra said...

this is so cool!
thanks for the lesson and the vid, and the willy wonka part LOL