Raw honey. It's sweet, gooey, makes my tea taste amazing and sweetens our morning oatmeal. And it's been a staple in our lives for about a year now. In the Spring of 2013, we purchased our first beehive along with two other families. The hive was located off to the side of our field and we extracted 9 quarts (approximately 34 lbs) of honey that summer. It was a learning curve, but a beautiful one, because we enjoyed our third of the honey all winter long. Then that dreadful winter of 2013 hit. When we opened our hive this Spring, the bees were laying dead in the bottom of the hive. A very sad day to say the least (honey bee hives cost around $150, so you need the hive to sustain year after year in order to make it cost efficient). But we were determined to start over. So in April of this year, we purchased our second hive and placed it in the same spot in our field, except this time we felt more confident. A sense of "we've done this before, and we'll winterize differently this year".
Yesterday was our first extraction from the new hive, and it went perfectly. Kyle's brother Jereme and his wife Holly are also half-owners of the hive, which is nice because we split the cost and work evenly. Kyle & his brother drove out and gathered the full trays, leaving plenty in the hive for the bees to continue working on. When they returned about 20 minutes later, our toddler boys played in the yard while the adults took turns scraping the trays & then placing into the homemade extractor (a gift from my grandpa, but in the past we've rented one). Once in the extractor, the trays are spun by hand and the honey is poured into a bucket with a cheesecloth to strain out any wax or particles.
Once the honey is completely strained, we jar the honey and split it between our families. From start to finish, the process took about 3 hours - much faster than our first time in 2013, so I feel we're making progress on this learning curve. It's a great feeling.
And here's the best part: this year we extracted 21 quarts, or 70 lbs of honey. We were in shock as we noticed the 5 gallon bucket was nearly full. These bees are workhorses! So very grateful. And there's still plenty of honey left in the hive for the bees.
Today I enjoyed honey in my Peaceful Mama tea, and as always, it was delicious. The taste of store-bought, heat processed honey just doesn't compare to the taste of fresh, raw honey from your own land.
So, let those wildflowers grow! Dandelions included. And let's all put away the weed killer - it's killing our bees. For more information, read this excellent article: http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/17/opinion/spivak-loss-of-bees/
Thanks for reading! ~Elyse
PS: We've received a lot of questions about purchasing our honey, but unfortunately it's not something that will happen for atleast several years. It takes time (and money) to establish new colonies, and we currently use all of the honey we gather. I would love to someday make honey a part of our family income and will keep you all posted when we do!