Apologies for missing a Quick Meal Friday last week. I had an important date with a beekeeper.
We had a honeybee hive under the floorboards of our playhouse-in-progress. The photo above shows the long strip of floorboard lifted up, revealing a substantial honey production facility underneath.
Geoff Kipps-Bolton, a local beekeeper, spent the morning at our house last Friday harvesting several honeycombs, coaxing thousands of honeybees into his bee box, and providing the hubs and I a honeybee education. This was truly fascinating, and I was sorely disappointed I didn't let the kids stay home from school for this biology lesson.
He laid the honeycomb in frames between pieces of screen. These screens slid vertically into a bee box (my technical term). You can see a little "ramp" at the bottom of the box above, just under the handle.
Geoff used smoke from burning wood to coax the bees into the bee box, right up that little ramp.
As you can see above, once the gang caught on to the plan, many of the honeybees faced backward on the ramp, releasing an attractive pheromone providing direction to the rest of the group. This was just incredible, all a gentle manipulation of natural processes.
Geoff even managed to attract the queen bee (seen poorly above in the dark photo of the bee box underside). We saved several pieces of comb, filled with immature (but still sweet) honey and a few honeybee larvae for the kids to inspect. Thanks to a neighbor's magnifying glass they had a great up-close view.
So, there was no lavender honey to jar up after this exciting backyard science adventure, but we all have a first-hand appreciation for where our honey comes from!