One of my favorite memories as a child is a quiet, slow summer day with a bright sun and a low mummer of bees among the clover. I've always loved bees. They are really very gentle little creatures, and quite harmless unless provoked. My Granny talked to bees whenever they were around, and I tend to do the same.
My Grandfather Felix had bees here on Old Home Farm. I'm told there were three hives and the honey harvested was some of the best around (according to Granny). She was a firm believer in the "powers" of honey. She once told me that to have a long life you should always honor your parents and eat at least a tablespoon of honey every day. I guess she knew what she was talking about because she lived to be 99.
I've always loved honey myself. When I was small, we could get local honey with the comb in and that was my favorite part. When I left home, I bought processed honey from the store for the first time and had an allergic reaction. I was stunned. Then I learned that some processed honey will contain additives, so I quit buying from the store.
After moving back home and settling on the old homestead, we found ourselves bringing back some of the original things of Grandpa's farm. We had cows for a time, then got sheep and goats, which my Grandfather also had. And then I decided I wanted to bring back the bees. We tried to lure a new swarm the way Grandpa did, but it didn't work for us. Then a friend gave us a hive and we were set.
We are still learning, but so far so good, and we harvested our first honey a few weeks ago. As I said, I've always loved bees and have never been afraid. But the suit is a different matter. Once I was encased in that suit, I suddenly had trouble breathing, and found my vision obstructed by the vale. And with a swarm of angry bees swirling about your head, matters only get worse. A hive can hold up to 60,000 bees, and when they are upset, it seems like double the amount! So, Greg, who is not bothered by anything in life, waded in and calmly took the honey, gently brushing angry bees back into the hive.
Once you have removed the honey frames, you have to take them to a secure location or the bees will follow you and try to take it back. Luckily, the wonderful people who bought our land across the road where I was raised are good friends and they said we could use the old milk barn to extract the honey in. Somehow, that only made things more perfect for me, using a building built by my father's own hands.
We borrowed a honey extractor from a friend, and spun the frames out into a food grade bucket. ( It was a very sticky job, and I didn't take my camera, so the photo above is a stock photo of the type of extractor we used.) Then we took the bucket home and drained the honey out into glass jars. By the time we were done I had 3 ½ gallons of honey! Quite a nice haul. And Granny was right, it is the best honey around, even if I do say so myself.
Honey is one of the purest foods known to man. It was a gift to us from the very beginning of time, and there are so many biblical references to it. Honey can be used to treat wounds if nothing else is on hand. It actually contains trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal. Not enough to be toxic, but enough to temporarily treat a wound until the proper medical supplies are provided. Honey and lemon are also excellent for coughs and sore throats.
So, maybe Granny did know what she was talking about. At any rate, I am following her advice and have that tablespoon of honey in my tea every morning, and occasionally on toast as well. Just one of the sweet rewards of living on Old Home Farm.
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