When I'm not at Umami Mart, you can usually find me near some bees. I've been beekeeping since 2014. I feel very fortunate to have been mentored by Betsy of East Bay Urban Bees. It was at Umamiventure #33, back in 2012, that inspired me to keep bees. Ever since, the bees have been teaching me about life, patience, death, and the ecosystem. I am humbled under their tutelage.
Every year, some time between spring and summer, I extract the honey from my hives. This year, I was rewarded with the fruits of their labor in July. It is one of the most joyous activities I have ever taken part in and I feel lucky to be able to do it every year with the help of my partner. It's always nice to have a helping hand, as you can get yourself in some pretty sticky situations.
The harvest this year yielded just enough for me to put some on the shelves at Umami Mart. With the launch of this limited Kuma Honey, I thought I'd share some photos of my hives and how honey is extracted.
I have a small area in my yard to have three hives. Here is a shot of one of my hives with a frame that has nectar in it. Later, the bees will cap these cells and it will become honey.
I'm going to throw in a shot of capped brood just to show you how gorgeous these cells look. From these cells will emerge baby bees!
Full frames of honey.
To start, we must sterilize the jars!
Then, using a serrated uncapping knife, we cut off the caps, releasing deliciously golden honey.
Beautiful shards of wax capping fall onto the pan.
The frame is exposed!
The frames are loaded into a honey extractor.
This year, we rented an electric honey extractor that can spin 8 frames all at once.
Once the switch is turned on, you can relax for a few minutes.
And... the bucket runneth over...
This year, I designed some labels for the honey. I've been calling the honey I harvest Kuma Honey for a couple years now. My last name is Kumano, or Bear Field, in Japanese.
Bear Honey 2019! Compared to last year's winter harvest, this year's honey was more blonde and golden. It has a light floral taste, with hints of citrus and pepper.
Each worker bee makes 1-1.5 teaspoons of honey during her lifetime, making every drop very precious.
Thank you, bees, for your bounty. But most of all for helping me slow down and appreciate the time we have on this bee-autiful earth.