Monday, May 17, 2010
"Lovely honey combs" - say my friends coming to visit the house, once they see the line up on the kitchen table. The smell is honey-heavenly, but these are not honey combs but empty combs from my dead topbar hives. (you would not place combs full of honey on your table... some is bound to leak!) -
I assume some contained honey that bees ate trying to survive hungry winter; some were housing for their larvae, some cells are full of pollen. There is a thick layer of dead bees in the bottom of the hives, strange sight. They are dead and and the spring is quiet, one can just pull the hive apart and there is nobody there. Tiny native bees are working the flowers, and orchards are full of fruit, so life goes on - but the our little honey collectors are not involved in the spring chores. I hear, the US lost nearly 80% of honey bees in 2009.
I collected the combs to melt them for wax, to make candles. Broken combs are placed in cookie sheets in the sun, covered with a single layer of glass - slowly melting, with impurities that color the combs in darker hues rising and clean yellow wax on the lower end - or so it will be once they warm up. So far the melting process is very slow and I am not observing any separation of impurities. As always, the ways of living on the land and off the land sound oh-so-simple, anyone-can-do-this-without-trouble, and in reality there more questions than answers; and for sure I have not made a single candle yet! Not to mention honey harvest by the gallon.
Sometimes I wonder if people "out there" think that they can always change gears, plant a garden, grow their own food, meet their own needs - easy - while in reality the learning curve is steep and long and I definitely suggest if you are thinking about starting, start now - see you along the way!