From the Experts
After reading the last post I’m sure your interest is probably piqued, wondering how in the world we harvest so much organic honey without being stung! First off, I said that I haven’t gotten stung…but that doesn’t mean our beekeeper friend, Derek Abello hasn’t! As I mentioned before, Derek owns and operates a Bee Removal Phoenix AZ company. Living in Arizona, he is around aggressive, africanized bee frequently and he does get stung. Even using the best bee suits on the market are no match for these vicious little guys! They are out to kill! Bee suits, even the best of them, are sting resistant — not sting proof! So stings can and do happen. Typically if you bend the right way and the material gets pulled tight against the skin. Or if the veil gets pressed against the face for some reason. So you do have to be careful. I think we are lucky in that we live in a cooler climate where the winters get extremely cold and the Africanized bees just can’t survive as much. So we really don’t have to worry about them. My bees are Italian and quite docile. But I still wear a suit as a precaution!
When to Harvest
We harvest honey from April-September. As long as there is forage out and the bees are able to get to flowers it is safe to harvest. If it is too cold we must wait. It is more important for the bees to have what they need. This must be a self sustaining operation. In warmer parts of the county, such as where Derek is from, he will harvest honey from Feb-October. Mainly because the weather is warmer. As long as there is enough rainfall (to produce forage) he can harvest even into October.
The how to…
The first step in harvesting honey is to get a bucket with a lid to collect the comb. We practice the method of crush and strain so we take the comb and all the honey. We leave plenty of honey comb for the bees. The lid is important because you don’t want the bees stealing back their honey! And they quickly will. Or other robber bees will. Then once the honey comb is harvested we take it back to the house.
Inside we begin the process of crushing the comb. This just releases it from the cells so it can flow freely. It is then placed in the strainer inside the filter bucket. We got our filter bucket system here We set the bucket system outside, and during the harvest months the weather is plenty warm enough to filter the honey in just a matter of a few days! On a hot summer day it might even filter in just 1 day! And that is it. Simple as that. Totally raw, organic, filtered honey.
Here at Shine Hollow we grow all different kinds of trees and produce on our 70+ acre farm. We specialize in pears, strawberries, and almonds. But the food that I’m most proud of (that has a certain amount of danger to it) but comes to us the easiest is…honey! Honey and bees only made sense with all we had to pollinate. It was way to much work to hand pollinate so it was time to hire some 20,000 little workers to get the job done for us!
So in come the bees! We called up Bee Removal Phoenix, owned by Derek Abello, a native Arizonan beekeeper, to come help us start our apiary. It was no small task! We had to ship in 5 hives and all the equipment. We could have started on our own from swarms, but we really needed to get our trees pollinated so it was worth the expense. And we trusted Derek and were glad to have him help us!
So once the hives were set up we just had to provide water! The trees already have all the food! It was simple to hook up an automatic waterer. That way the bees wouldn’t be bothering our pool. And we had honey almost immediately! Those bees are hard workers. They got right to work and started building comb. The queen was laying eggs and making her brood and our hives were growing very fast. Our summers do get warm so we made sure to put them under the shade of our healthiest almond trees.
And it is as simple as that! From zero experience of being a beekeeper, overnight we became experts! Or rather the bees are experts for us! We just stood back and let them do their thing. We use the crush and strain method which enables us to sell the wax as well.
The initial reason we got bees was to increase production on our tree crops and it definitely worked! Our pear production went up 56% and our almond production went up 85%! We didn’t really track the strawberries but it was for sure their best year yet. It is such a happy feeling to be out in the garden or in the trees and see our 20,000 workers happily buzzing about! I used to be afraid of bees but now I just see such a sense of beauty in them. And besides, my fear was unfounded, because when they are pollinating they have no interest in stinging me. Their only job is to pollinate. They are way to busy to be bothered with me. Now don’t go near the hive though! That would be a totally different situation!
When we harvest honey (which I’ll post more about tomorrow) we always wear bee suits for protection. We got ours from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm. The bees are very dangerous when it comes to defending their hive, protecting their queen, and guarding their precious honey. So we take care and use smokers (smoking only organic fuel such as wood chips we chip ourselves from our organic trees) and we try to disturb the as very little as possible. I haven’t gotten stung yet so it must be working!
I look forward to chatting with you again! Share in the comment below if you would ever want to keep bees or if you are too afraid! I’d love to hear from you!
Can I go Solar?
Of course you can! It is not as complicated as it was a few years ago. There are companies that will purchase solar panels for you and take percentages of your payment back from the energy companies. Then there are the full fledged Do it yourself “DIY” solar set ups that are quite simple to build. They can be time consuming but for the most part are straight forward. For information on an interesting solar generator click here. Or of course go to Google, or Youtube. What ever way you go, you will find that solar is quite the way of the future. I personally think coal, and nuclear power is just a fine way to produce power, especially since there are so many loops that these facilities need to go through in order to maintain safety for the employees all the way to the environment.
Windmills are a great creation, and I just love seeing pictures of the old Dutch windmills that line the bays of Holland. The next best thing is seeing windmills dot the country landscape. These incredible contraptions should be on everyone’s homestead. Of course there is the sprawling city and most governments don’t want this to be the norm since it tends to mean a independence from their grip. Either way it is awesome, and a great way to have clean energy.
There are many water sources. Currently in the news as there tends to be every year, there is a new drought somewhere in the world that everyone needs to freak out about. Well since the world is about 75% water, and it’s not exactly going anywhere but through cycles, then I think it’s safe to say a drought may be a local problem like a hurricane or tornado or Tsunami is that local area’s problem. But droughts are a little easier to handle since there is rain water to be harvested, wells to be dug, and even sea water to be desalinated. The answer is all around us, the question is why we are limiting out water resources.
I discuss in another page here, the importance of taking care of the earth. This is another answer that most people just simply have to buy into. There are ways God has created this Earth to work and we can really be good stewards of this great resource he has given us. Soil loses by erosion, being uncovered, being over-farmed and even being poisoned! The Bible has a solution for over farming…God simply says give the land rest. Israelites were even commanded to have a 7th year, where certain things happened and one of those was giving rest to the land. It is interesting how important the soil of the earth is to us. Now it is up to us, not our next door neighbor, not the government, but us to do what we can in order to truly help preserve this great earth.