Monday, July 12, 2010

B-z-z-z....Honey Harvesting at Cabot Farm

It was hot. It was the middle of a heatwave kind of hot, when even the beach was too sweltering. My colleague and beekeeper friend, Rich Girard called and invited my son, Zac and I for an afternoon of honey harvesting. We, in spite of the temperature, said the devil with the heat! After a short drive to his home, Cabot Farm, we arrived to a kitchen full of eager honey harvesters. His neighbor and visiting relatives were joining us and I've rarely met a nicer and cuter family. Rich, Zac and I donned our beekeeper's suits and made the short walk out to the hives. In this heat, the suits were either our personal saunas or fainting suits...I wasn't sure which! The others were picking raspberries among the honey colored roses as they watched us in our other-worldly garb. Uncovering a hive, Rich introduced us to his bees, and their origins. Layer by layer, their habitat was unveiled. He warned me they are attracted to dark moving a camera! I expected it to be totally covered with swarming bees as I took photos but, thank goodness, there was just some gentle buzzing. Taking pictures with propolis covered gloves in 100 degree heat was challenging enough! Our interest in the life and habits of the bees as told by Rich, made us soon forget about our drips of perspiration. I've always been fascinated by the Queen Bee, her worker's and the way nature's plan is played out in the hives. In Medieval times the beehive was considered a symbol of industry. Bees instincts are complicated and intelligent. Once you see this balanced life force in action, you want to help ensure their eternal longevity. Their tasty honey is also a pretty good immediate incentive. The magic of the bees was revealed with each frame of the hive we pulled out. Rich pulled them out one by one, explaining the dynamic of how the honeycombs are formed. I wanted to bow before these hardworking creatures :-) Before bringing the frames inside we needed to brush the bees off. Rich doesn't like to use smoke to discourage bees as he feels it gives the honey an unwanted flavor. Since his honey won first place at the Topsfield Fair last year, I'll trust him.He uses a feather which is gentler and doesn't anger them as they are coerced from the frame of honeycomb. Zac helped....I took pictures. We brought the bee-free frames into the basement where extraction of the honey, the next phase of magic, began. Rich brought out a honeycomb he had found earlier that had a free form. I thought it was bee shaped, no? Then we looked and talked about the frames before beginning to remove the top waxy layer to reveal the dripping honey. Zac started and then we were each able to get the feel of how deep and at what angle to take the tool as we scraped. Once the honey was free to flow, the frames were placed vertically into the extractor to spin. After several straining processes, we were ready to turn the tap and fill our jar with the sweet nectar. We filled 6 jars while munching on some waxy honeycomb that Rich pulled out of a bag for us to taste. He said chewing it was a little reminiscent of Nik-L Nips, those little wax filled candy soda bottles we ate as kids. Yes, but better. We each proudly held our reward of the day as we went upstairs and had a mini honey tasting before we left. Some jars of different types of honey were pulled out.We then dipped in a wooden stick and we tasted them side by side. Some were from the Parisian shop, Les Abeilles, a few from other sources and and some were local. Each one was unique. His award winning honey has a delicate floral taste that is delicious. Even Sequoia, the family chocolate lab, likes honey. We said good-bye to Rich and the bees holding our jar of honey with awe. Somehow it will taste just a little sweeter knowing how hard the girls and their gang have worked.

Read about Rich and his bees here.

If you would like a jar of Rich's award winning honey, please email him directly at:
The prices are:
$5 for an 8oz. jar
$10 for a 1 pound jar
$20 for a 2 pound jar

Recipes using honey on 2 Stews:
Baked Brie with Sweetened Almonds and Honey
Lavender Honey Grilled Chicken
Cherry Almond Lowfat Granola

Thanks to the Graphics Fairy for the bee clip art.

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