If I Keep Doing What I'm Doing, I'll Keep Getting What I'm Getting

Did I tell you I’ve decided to read “Linda’s Bees” blog from beginning to end. Every single entry for 4 or 5 years. And she posts a lot. Well, I skip those entries that contain pictures of flowers. Sure, I like flowers. But, frankly, I hate pictures of flowers. They bore me. Fortunately—and this is why I love her blog—Linda almost always writes about bees. And her photographs are extremely helpful. I’m inspired.

So, my parents arrive for a 5-day visit today, and I know they’re dying to participate in some way in the beekeeping. I’ll do hive inspections with them, and that can be quite thrilling if you’ve never been that close to that many working bees. But I think we’ll also try our hand at harvesting a few frames of honey. This will be my first honey harvest, and now that I’ve decided to go the “crush and strain” route, it should be quite manageable to do with the parents here.

(The Muth jars have arrived. Love them. Perfect for gifts to the neighbors. Good timing, too, because some of my neighbors have pools and hot tubs, and when it gets hot the bees head straight to water. Uh oh. I hope the bees love the skanky water in our birdbath more than they love my neighbors’ crystal-clear pools…I know the mosquitoes certainly prefer life over here.)

I’ve decided to grow in the less-is-more direction, so I’m planning to let the bees build their next comb without using foundation in the frames. I’m becoming convinced that using foundation which could have been exposed to the pesticides and chemicals some beekeepers use to control pests in the hives may be one reason bees and their queens are increasingly becoming weaker (oh, if only they were all as strong as my Amazon girls).

But what am I supposed to do with the 100 sheets of super-thin foundation I just ordered from Walter Kelly? Melt it for lip balm and hand lotion? Hell, I don’t know. I know that ever since Deb tried to walk right through the closed screen, our sliding door is sticking… it’s out of whack. Maybe I can rub some foundation on the little runners and see if I can’t smooth it up.

To melt that stuff, though, I’m going to need a cheap double boiler. I can’t tell you how I hate to shop.


I’ve been doing a shitty job of keeping TwoHoneys updated. You’d think nothing is going on with the bees. But a lot is going on out there! And a lot is going on regarding my learning curve, Reader. It’s skyrocketing.

You know that we have one established hive; it’s the swarm hive we captured a year ago from my friend Chris and named Amazons. One other hive, a hive that originated from a package of bees we ordered, died over the winter.  This year, we installed two more packages of bees in their own hives, and those bees should do nothing but build comb and raise brood and store enough honey with which they’ll depend on to survive the winter. Those hives are named Tomboys and Girls of Summer.

The Ohio River Valley is in the thick of a honey flow, and I’ve installed three shallow supers on Amazons in which they are building beautiful comb and storing glorious-looking honey. This is the honey we’ll harvest and eat and give as gifts.

Harvesting honey, however, usually requires a honey extractor—which is an expensive piece of spinning equipment. And, as you know, I usually lean toward less equipment…I like to make and bake bread using only my hands and a cookie sheet. I’m leaning that way more and more with the bees.

So, I’ve been mulling over this extractor thing. Do I want to spend about $500 on a piece of equipment I will seldom use? Should I rent one? If I rent one, I’d have to plan when I want to extract honey, then I’ll have to drive a long way to get the extractor, and then I have to clean the thing and return it. I hate that idea. I could borrow an extractor from my friend Christy, but for some reason I hate to borrow stuff like that. And I’d still have to plan when I want to harvest, drive to get the extractor, clean it, return it, and think of some nice way to repay her, etc.

My parents are visiting us soon, and I know they are freaking excited to have some honey. And I want them to enjoy a little bit of it at the time of their visit without all the fuss of an extractor and without my having to spend a lot of time harvesting a big load of honey. It’s a bit too early to do a full-blown harvest. I want to take only a frame or two (or three or four) and get some honey from them and leave the rest alone. So, I’ve been reading and thinking.

Which brought me to a couple of quiet websites that briefly mention a honey-harvesting method called “crush and strain.” I thought, “WHAT?! I’m not about to crush all that honeycomb those bees have worked so damned hard to build because they’ll just have to do it all over again, and I’m not going to make them work their brains out for nothing.” Oh, Reader, I am sooo wrong about so many things. The more I learn, the more sense I get.

Thanks to this video over at Linda’s Bees, I have now decided to crush and strain all of our honey…some when the parents visit and the rest whenever the heck I’m ready.

No fancy, expensive, loud equipment for us. It doesn’t seem natural. I’m going rogue.