Tuesday, July 15, 2008

First extraction of the season

As we set out to extract honey this past weekend, it became abundantly clear that we have a certain workplace dialectic going on here. That is, CSB is strictly clean and hygienic and I am, shall we say, laissez-faire. I figure that if honey is used as an antibiotic to heal post–surgical wounds, it can certainly handle the insertion of my fingertip for a taste. But not CSB. He takes a clean jar and sterilizes it. He gets upset if I smudge a jar. And he gets especially upset if any stray bee bits get in the honey. And while I realize that not everyone recognizes the health benefits of actually ingesting pieces of wax and propolis and bee anatomy, I certainly do, and recommend it.
Whose workroom rules prevail? Silly question. CSB's of course. So far he hasn’t yet made me wear gloves when I bottle the honey but I fear we are moving in that direction.

I am filled with an almost atavistic serenity, an all's-right-with-world sense of abundance when I watch the golden honey pour out - richly, thickly golden, amber, forestal, champagnesque. As quart after quart sluices over the lip of the extractor, I can only wonder that each ounce of honey required a bee to travel about 1600 round trips to gather nectar. A pound of honey is the result of about 2 million flowers. Since a single bee visits somewhere between 50 and 1000 flowers a day, that means that it takes a single bee at the very least 2 days to make an ounce of honey.

Of course this is not about a single bee, but about the hive.

So the honey pours out, I fill one hexagonal jar after another, and then I bring down the stopcock and put on the lids (also washed and meticulously dried by CSB, lest any stray moisture get into the honey and promote crystallization.). Have I mentioned how much I like any activity that allows me to use, with impunity, words like stopcock?

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