"It is interesting to consider that the bees preparing for winter have never been through the cold season, nor will the summer foragers be alive when the stores are consumed." –Jason Grace, Napa Valley Bee Co.
And like that, with a casual observation left in the notes from our beekeeper’s “Fall Summary”, my mind was blown wide open. Working the bees has been a true pleasure. For me, working is a pretty loose term. The way it works: the beekeepers come over and open up the hive, assess each frame, search for pests, and larvae, and keep notes of the findings. I generally stand there, ask questions, hold a thing or two, take a sting for the team, and so on.
It’s true magic.
It’s only been half a year since the bees first came to our land, and we had not anticipated tasting any of their honey until the flush of this coming spring. Unlike the hustle bustle of commercial beekeeping, we do not see the harvesting of honey and replacement with high fructose corn syrup as a fair trade for the bees. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone could think that with even a moment’s consideration, let alone that be the commercial norm.
Due to the elevation and isolation of our site, and the abundant garden and multiple hundred foot long rosemary hedges which surround the bees, our two colonies are both presently extremely healthy, and most importantly, well "set up" for winter. As plain of a thing as that may sound, in present day bee world the ability to prepare and survive a winter is anything but guaranteed.
And then it happened. Knowing that the bees had healthy stores of honey, and that we would not be causing them much stress, we heated up a knife and sliced a small square out of one of the frames.
The scorched knife cuts easily through the bee-made wax, with its’ lightly capped honey cells ensconced within. Pierced, now, and honey bleeds down like a tear of blood--a small bit of attention is drawn to the scene. Before a moment’s time, it is over, and the hive is closed, our sacred square of wax and dripping honey safely inside the glass jar. It feels like quartz crystal in my freshly stung hands, throbbing like the cosmos throb. golden divinity.
And so each day, for as many as it lasts, her and I have taken minute little tastes of both wax and honey as a morning ritual. Ecstatic. Loving. Eternal. Magical. Approaching orgasmic. These are the adjectives of it’s flavor. It is truly supreme. Like nothing I’ve tasted.
The seasons, and the flow of the sun, the rhythm of the rain—the bloom of the forest. These things and more are processed through the unique perspective of the bee and the result is god’s honey. I have said magic a few times throughout this entry, but when it comes to mother honey, I’m not sure what else is even at play.
happy Terra Madre Day