I was curious about Beekeeping. So I reached out to the community and was invited to visit a number of apiaries and even a season end harvest party.
This was the first time I experienced the wild buzz of a hive or got to hold a frame filled with honey.
The bees and their humans work diligently to maintain a deliberate balance. Each beekeeper has their own style and each hive has its own personality.
Missy Bee adjusts her vail while working with the Bayside bees.
Missy Bee and her son Bodhi while checking on the Bayside bees.
Bodhi watching the Bayside bees.
Bodhi examines one of the hives while his mother Missy Bee searches for a queen in another.
These bees continue building comb despite being removed from the hive. Beekeepers will remove one frame to make room to examine the others on periodic checks to determine hive health after systematic checks the frames are replaced and the hive will resume normal functions.
Chelsea proudly displays a frame quickly filling with honey. This was her first season as a beekeeper and the hive has done very well.
A constant in beekeeping is to check the hive, being sure of your queens health is paramount in maintaining a strong hive.
As the comb fills, bees will cap it with a layer of wax in order to store it for the remainder of the season. This frame contains nearly 50% capped comb, an indicator of a healthy hive.
Monique, manages a number of hives on a small farm in McKinleyville. As part of her strategy to combat the destructive Varroa mites she freezes some frames containing mostly drone cells. Since drones are larger than worker bees and can support more mites, the idea is that by managing the number of drones it will be easier to control the mite population. The chickens are the real winners in this deal as they get to eat the frozen drone pupae.
After a a season of foraging and filling comb the bees relax while humans gather at Missy Bee's to take part in the annual honey harvest.
To extract honey end caps on each frame must be scraped or cut open before being hand spun in a centrifuge.
Prepped frames are placed into a rack within a stainless steel centrifuge. By spinning the frames centrifugal force draws the honey out of each individual cell where it is easily collected in the base of the tank and can be portioned out into buckets or jars after filtering.
After spinning, a frame is held and inspected to ensure the honey has been effectively spun from each cell.
After a successful first season, Chelsea's bees produced enough honey to harvest. Here Harrison collects the last drops into a mason jar at Missy Bee's harvest party.