The Seductive Taste and Smell of Honey

Author: Meera, November 25, 2012


Super or hive with one of the ten frames removed


The sweet, seductive scent of honey permeates the rear of my property where the honeybee traffic has picked up now that we have had a few warm days. My neighbor Peter told me on Saturday that we would open the hives today. I enjoy helping him with bees, and my organic yogurt wouldn’t taste the same without that sweet honey drizzled on top.



Peter says it’s coming on winter now and the bees need food. Sources of pollen diminish during fall and winter. Our inspection will determine whether or not the bees and their hives are in good shape. Most likely, if there is honey, we won’t harvest it but rather leave it for the bees. Still . . . if there’s an abundance, we might take a frame or two.


When he was just a boy, Peter received his training as a beekeeper from his father. His father’s honeybees kept their Lebanese village supplied with honey. Our purpose in opening the hives today is to inspect the physical structures of the hives for mold, mites, ants, or any foul smell that might suggest a problem.


Tin of Apiguard for Varroa mite; also
medication in powdered sugar and hanging strips


We last medicated the bees during the first week of October. This morning, the bees were so docile, Peter didn’t even suit up. But I did. Even so, the last time I put on the head-to-toe bee suit and the elbow length leather gloves, I still got stung as I was removing the suit.



Smoking the bees to calm them


At approximately 9:30 a.m. , we started to open the hives,  smoking each one, in turn and closely checking each frame. The hives all looked healthy and robust. We removed spent containers of Apigard and the hanging sticks of antibiotic.


After inspecting each frame in each hive, we re-medicated the bees to ward off mites and anything that might attack or weaken the immune systems of the bees. The goal is to keep them healthy and strong so that the honeybees survive with their babies through the winter to swarm in the spring (swarms are the way the bees expand their populations).


Golden honey draining from a frame
into a glass dish



The last three hives were particularly strong. The bees were busily working. Each super (styrofoam box or hive that holds ten frames) was heavy. We reduced the sizes of the hives to two supers instead of a stack of three on top of each other. Smaller hives during the winter means less work for the bees to stay warm and make babies.



Peter handed me three frames of honey to take to my kitchen. He also took a frame or two. Tomorrow, I’ll make a honey cake . . . if I can stop myself from constantly sampling the gorgeous colored, sweet tasting honey that slowly drips from the frames into large glass dishes in my kitchen.

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