I love hanging out with these guys a ton, in their preponderance of flannel and magical innate ability to break barns. (We'd been at the house MAYBE twenty minutes before someone managed to pop a piece out of the barn wall in the loft and let it crash to the ground below. Twenty minutes! I'm surprised no one got themselves locked in the corn crib.) But in any case, it's a group full of homestead types, talking about fencing wire gauges and serviceberry/mushroom/skunk cabbage forage and different receptacles and lightning optimization for various kinds of fermentation. I almost applied to work for a vegetable brinery this summer (except I don't have a car, so I couldn't, alas), so understand how deeply relevant this is to my interests!!
One guy even brought a beelining box, the design of which was masterminded by bee guy extraordinaire, Tom Seeley (at Cornell). Beelining boxes are used to locate feral hives, in the event that you wanted, for instance, to try and collect and domesticate them. It's this ingenious mechanism that, you know, were anyone thinking, MAN HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO CASE!FIC SOME BEEKEEPING!WINCHESTERS. OR BORROW CAIN'S BEES, might be a helpful hunter's tool. Just sayin'. This particular beelining box had been made with wood recycled out of an old oak piano, so it was gorgeous.
We also put together a top bar hive and scented it with lemongrass, to entice a feral hive to come nest there. Fingers crossed!
And had a potluck with extremely good food. I just brought some loaves of bread I'd baked, because, um. Well, as I've been Big Banging these past three days that means I've also not gone shopping, and have been subsisting on cabbage and Girl Scout cookies. But I do have a lot of wheat flour and yeast, so bread it was. XD It was a hit, though, because people just dropped some honey onto it and it was all good! Anyway, this guy made vegan nacho cheese sauce--best thing ever. And so filling! Cashew, red bell papper, miso, and nutritional yeast. I need to figure out how to make some of this at home, omg.
First you need to uncap the comb:
which you can do with a giant serrated knife, if it's built out past the frame, which is much faster, or you can do with a "cat scratcher," as shown. You don't want to cut too deep, though, because otherwise you lose your honey with the wax you're uncapping. The plastic bin is designed to let the rogue honey drip down, but that's a pain in the ass.
Then you load your uncapped frames into the extractor, which is a fancy centrifuge:
And you crank, flipping the frames halfway through to get the honey out of the other side of the frame. You can also see here our hive (those boxes on the left).
There's a chamber at the bottom of the centrifuge where the honey leaks down, and you pour it out! Then you can strain it to get out the excess comb.
We had three sizes of strainer, and opted for the middle grade because having pollen and propolis in your fresh-from-the-hive honey is kind of cool. We ended up with about 30lbs!
And for posterity, here's the barn we broke:
Rest in piece, ladder-door-thing. But also rest in peace.
So there we have it, guys. My life goals. I want to live on the Strait of Juan de Fuca (either the US side or the Canadian side, I don't care) and keep bees and keep track of the local orca pods. Hopefully they need an English professor out there.