I have been fascinated with honeybees since I was in college. I owe that fascination to an amazing professor, Michael Burgett at Oregon State University, whom taught an introductory entomology course that I enrolled in my senior year. Had I taken that course earlier in my college days, I likely would have minored in entomology. Anyway …
Visit with an Apiculturalist
For a while now, I have wanted to introduce the kids to the science of bee-keeping. I have even hinted to my husband that I would love a hive of our own; that bees would make me happier than diamonds. A girl can dream, right?
We recently discovered that a family we know here in Northern California are apiculturists. When I made this discovery, I was full of questions. It was thereby no surprise when they invited us out to help them to extract the honey from their hives.
The frames had been removed from the hives a few days prior and brought into the garage. This helped to provide a peaceful atmosphere in which to extract the honey for the bees gradually returned to the hive when the threat had moved on. The frame boxes were stored in the attic of the garage for it was very warm up there and the honey was thereby less viscous.
The frames were removed from the box, the wax caps (if any) were sliced off with a flat, knife-like tool which was heated with electricity, and the frames were set into a large kettle like device. We all took turns spinning the frames around … the honey would literally fly out of the hexagonal cells onto the wall of the extractor (presently muscle-powered but plans to motorize it spoken of). The honey then drips down the sides and through a hole in the bottom which then leads to a double filter to remove any wax or insect remnants that may be present. The honey is then funneled into jars for consumption.
This year, the family has 13 hives but sadly, the dry weather through the summer and an area grasshopper infestation in July caused the nectar source to be rather dismal. As a result, they pulled only 81 frames in 9 supers with honey which will yield about 230 pounds of honey. The previous year, they family had a small fraction of the hives they do now and yet had a similar yield.
When we had spun out 18 frames, we took turns donning the bee-keeper attire and visiting the hives. The female worker bees, the drones (males lacking stingers), and of course the queen were identified. We also had the opportunity to hold a drone in our bare hands much as we would have held a small frog. This was such a strange feeling!
The Nature Book Club
Welcome to the Nature Book Club Monthly Link Up. Devoted to connecting children to nature, the monthly link up will begin on the 20th day of each month. We welcome your nature book and activity related links. Read on for more details.
Today, I would like to share with you an amazing book that delights readers of all ages. Using the book jacket and enclosed paper sheets, this book becomes a house for mason bees, which are non-aggressive, non-stinging super-pollinators. Mason bees pollinate far more than honeybees and their nest will give kids a chance to observe the insects more closely.
Turn this Book into a Beehive is written by Lynn Brunelle, author of Pop Bottle Science. Rich text teaches kids about the world of bees and numerous exercises, activities, and illustrations engage one’s imagination. Best of all, with just a few simple steps readers can transform the book into an actual living home for backyard bees.
The Nature Book Club is brought to you by these nature loving bloggers which are your co-hosts. Are you following them? If you don’t want to miss anything, be sure to follow each one. Here are the co-hosts, their choices of books, and activities for July 2019:
- Pollinator Observation from Thaleia at Something 2 Offer
- The Bee Tree Notebooking Pages from Jenny at Faith & Good Works
- Flapping Butterfly Craft from Karyn at Teach Beside Me
- Little Bee Online Book Club from Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate
- Visit with an Apiculturalist from ME here at Eva Varga
- All About Honey Bee Unit Study Resources from Jenny at Homeschool Educational Free Market
Choose an engaging nature book, do a craft or activity, and add your post to our monthly link up.
The link up party goes live at 9:00 a.m. EST on the 20th of each month and stays open until 11:59 p.m. EST on the last day of the month. Hurry to add your links!
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September 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm
What an experience!
My father in law used to keep bees, he often talks about it. It was before “my time” in the family though!
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