Wednesday, December 29, 2010

finally! produce! usefulness!...

...well okay the bees are useful year 'round to all the plants. But I like the kind of usefulness I can hold in my hand and/or eat.

We removed 3 frames (or how I still stubbornly refer to them as "panels" because thats what they look like) that were pretty full of honey and not much other stuff like pollen or "brood" (bee-grubs). I mean, who wants bee grub guts in their honey?, gross.

I was at the helm, gloveless and since that dayhad been pretty darn terrible already (long story, but quite horrendous) I was fully prepared to be stung, maybe even multiple times.

We got the frames out and tried to get the bees off them by bucket n' lid method, but after that proved ineffective, we just swept them off with a paintbrush and I scurried into the kitchen with them before the bees could give chase. Only a few had to be escorted out of the kitchen window back out into nature.
Then of course we had to get the honey out of the comb which involved a big knife and lots and lots of smooshing the comb. The smooshed wax and honey looks absolutely disgusting before it's filtered and separated. A dead ringer for barf, if not for the sweet/happy smell of honey.

Next that barfish-honey mixture sits in the mesh filter and bucket system that Kevin put together until it was all filtered and golden and supermarket worthy.

We scrounged up as many jars as we could, even one that I had saved with the intention of making a snow globe out of it (yeah, like that was gonna happen), and filled them up.

(that one jar had a label with NASA quality adhesive(!)

They were Christmas gifts, so we needed cute labels. And that's my speciality *flourish-and-curtsey*. So I modified my favorite bee logo and added some typography and well you can see in the pic what they look like.

Kevin is kinda obsessed with the crystallization of our honey. At what rate its crystalizing and to what degree. I am in turn obsessed with avoiding the universal stickiness that comes with honey. It's a supernatural force: the invisible hand of stickiness. Impossible to completely eradicate.

Well once the honey was all jarred we had the wax leftover, just as gross looking as you'd expect. It made me think of a certain mythbusters episode...*shudder*

Anyway, out I went to the Salvation Army store to buy a dedicated wax-pot (i.e., 'don't wanna boil spaghetti in any pot previously used for melting beeswax). And can I just tell you that the Salvation Army store on a wednesday night is like a scene from Cheers? I felt good about humanity after I left (and a nice grandma-lady told everyone I looked like Sandra Bullock, lol)

We melted it double-boiler style and then kinda-sorta filtered out all that extra heaven-knows-what-stuff (bee poop? bee parts? whatever it is, I don't even want it in my candle).

Then we poured it in a glass container with cotton strings weighted with steel washers.
It cooled, then we realized that there was water stuck at the bottom; squeezed that water out, and lit it.

Voila! Old timey candle. Biblical even! (although the ancient existence of washers is debatable).