Hallmark holidays don't really matter to me, but ever since my father passed away, I think about how to spend Father's Day every year when June rolls around.
And I think I found the best activity to spend this special day.
I've been keeping bees for about a year now and yesterday was my first harvest. When I first starting thinking about nurturing a hive, honey was on my mind. But ever since the bees moved in, it has not really been about the honey. It's been about going out to the backyard first thing every morning, even if it's just for one minute to check on them. It's about them telling me what the weather will be like better than any app on my phone. And it's about getting lost in the moment while I'm hanging my laundry and they surround me (no stinging involved).
My bee mentor is Betsy from East Bay Urban Bees. She has been so patient with teaching me how to keep a hive, with joy and responsibility. We did not harvest any honey last year to make sure that the bees had enough for themselves through the winter. The techniques she uses are DIY -- never using chemicals or using shortcuts for the sake of a honey harvest. As much as I love honey, I think I love having the bees around more. When I see them pollinating my fruit trees and my neighbors flowering succulents, I am compelled to be the best landlord I can be.
It was a coincidence that my first experience extracting honey from frames fell on Father's Day, but it couldn't be more fitting. Betsy happened to be hosting a hive tour at her house for a father and daughter in the neighborhood.
Because extracting honey involves a lot of sticky equipment, we took the frames full of honey from my backyard to Betsy's workspace, aka kitchen.
Here are the frames from my hive, a total of 14 frames were loaded with honey.
Before placing the frames in an extractor, the honey must be uncapped. We used a bread knife and a scraper.
Scraping is a perfect job for kids.
After uncapping 7 frames, I think I mastered the bread knife thing.
Inevitably, there is honey residue on the sawed off caps that can be placed in a sieve to filter out the honey.
After uncapping, the frames are placed in an extractor and then spun really fast.
Betsy showed us how.
... the first drops:
And then we all got the hang of it...
... and the honey flowed...
... and flowed!
The bees taught me a great lesson today. That with some new friends and sticky hands, life can be really, really good.
And hopefully my dad will enjoy the honey too.