We suited up in full beekeeper uniform, vaguely resembling those of astronauts. And as we approached the hives, the low grade hum of thousands of bees hard at work grew louder and more resonant with each step forward. Removing the first hive cover unveiled a rare glimpse into their world, instantly submersing us into an all out swarming buzzfest. I was nervous at first, but was quickly reassured we were safely protected by our suits and in good hands with my father-in-law (master beekeeper) by our sides, there to talk us through the collection process.
Bee colonies are incredible operations. Upwords of 50,000 worker bees per hive hard at work collecting nectar from the surrounding wildflower fields, flying their findings back to home base, and miraculously transforming it into the most precise series of hexagonal cells, a waxy honeycomb framework for their sweet honey. And all the while, the queen bee is busy laying eggs for next season.
The collection, extraction and bottling process of 5 hives or 15 gallons of honey was an all day event catalyzed by an electric honey extractor and the integral teamwork of 8 members of the Francois clan. What a wildly fun and educational day we had learning about bees, extracting honey, and indulging in our fair share of sweet, sticky goodness. I can’t wait for next year!