blushing admission: yes, this is six months late.
It begins with the smoker. If you’ve ever questioned why boys love beekeeping, just think fire.
Big boys too. Cover yourself in smoke, bathe in it; it just may keep those bees from crawling in. Have no doubt, they will find the smallest hole, the tiny spot where you didn’t quite zip all the way up…
Next comes the fume board: take a harmless wooden box and fill it with the stinkiest, most horrid substance you can imagine. Our friends the Garlicks had to tie the board to the top of their car to avoid human fumigation on their drive from Logan to Salt Lake.
Pretty amazing friends who travel so far to help us with the harvest.
With luck, the stench will calm the bees as aliens invade the garden.
But we don’t take any chances, everyone suits up and tapes down.
First we check on Queen Deano– we’ll steal a few frames of honey from this overachiever.
Harvesting with Dean is sheer pleasure, he notes every interesting formation, compliments us on a thriving nursery and exclaims at frames heavy with rich golden honey as if we’d filled each cell ourselves. Unsurprisingly, the hive named after our favorite apiarian is thriving.
Next, to check on Queen Lisa’s progress. She’s been the weaker hive all season.
But Dean is effusive with compliments, Queen Lisa is thriving with baby bees, stored honey and happy workers. “Oh you’ve done so well!” Dean repeated over and over. But she doesn’t have enough honey to spare, so we’ll just admire her progress and leave the hive with winter food storage.
The stolen frames are carefully stored in a large plastic container until we can remove the honey. The container must be sealed tight or the bees will find it.
Next it was our turn to make the trek between Salt Lake and Logan– but the Garlicks always offer us the better end of the deal, lending use of their equipment, feeding us an incredible meal of honey smoked ribs, rolls with honey butter, salad with honey dressing.
First, you carefully scrape off the top layer of wax with the heat knife. Stefan uses an uncapping fork to loosen the wax.
Everyone wants to use the knife.
Next, place the frames in the spinner which uses centrifugal force to draw the honey out of the comb. Some spinners are cranked by hand but, lucky us, we used Dean’s supersonic electric turbo spinner.
The first drips of golden sweet honey.
And now it’s really pouring out.
The honey must be strained to remove little bee parts. Eww.
We can’t help but lick the spinner.
We ended up with nearly a gallon from our two hives. Dean assured us over and over, “You did really well. The first year is the hardest. Almost nobody had a good crop this year.” And yet Dean, managed to harvest eleven 11! gallons from a single new hive– the Honorable Kate Middleton.
Erik thinks our harvest looks best huddled all together,
but Mary disagrees. She scatters the bottles, adds flowers to the display, fusses over making things just right.
Phew, that was a long post. And I hope it inspires us to put together our three new hives. The boxes have sat on our front porch for the past week, no one quite willing to assemble ten boxes, one hundred frames from the more than 500 little wooden pieces in those lovely brown parcels. We’ll be placing them in an alfalfa field in Alpine this summer and maybe all the work this spring will seem sweeter if we look forward to the glorious September harvest.
Honey Butter Caramels with Sea Salt
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
Line the bottom and sides of an 8 or 9 in baking pan with foil or parchment paper. Let the sides of the foil or parchment hang over the sides of the pan; this will make it easier to remove the caramels.
In a large saucepan (use at least a 3 quart saucepan, as the boiling caramel will increase in volume), combine the corn syrup, honey, sugar, and sea salt, and bring to a boil. Let the mixture continue cooking until it reaches 305 degrees F.
Meanwhile, place the cream in a small saucepan and warm on the stove until it is just at a simmer. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan to keep the cream warm (you do not want to add cold cream to the hot caramel or it will seize up and harden.)
When the caramel is at the right temperature, take it off the heat and add in the butter, stirring until it is melted and combined.
Add in the cream slowly – when you pour it in it will bubble up violently, so don’t add the cream all at once or it might overflow. When you have added all the cream, stir the mixture until combined.
Return the saucepan to the stove and cook on medium heat until it reaches 250 degrees F.
Pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Let it set overnight before removing and cutting into individual pieces.