A few years ago my family started raising honey bees on our farm in Alabama. I remember thinking "seriously, guys.... we are going to add beekeeper to our list of odd things our family does together" (other things include alligator hunting and all night Rook tournaments while drinking Wild Hairy Buffalos... -if you know, then you know.... otherwise don't worry about it.) The more I learned about honey bees though the more fascinated I got with them and the more I started to fall in love with the idea of beekeeping. I will spare you the full biology lesson.... but do yourself a favor and read up on bees sometime. It will blow your mind.
The end of the summer marks the time each year when it is time to (quite literally) rob the bees. It is a really fun process that results in gallons of fresh honey that we bottle to hand out to friends and family. Last year I took my camera with me to try to get some shots of the process. You start by smoking the bees... which mainly puts them in a dreamy state and causes them to relax. Once the bee's are chilled out a little we will rob then of the top 2 boxes worth of trays.... you cant take everything they have because they need a supply for the winter. We will also replace a box with empty trays so that they can replenish some of their stash before the cold weather sets in.
The bees seal the comb structure with a layer of wax. So once we have removed the trays from the hive we use a type of heated spatula to remove the outer wax layer so that the honey will flow out. This is my favorite part of the whole process. I love to chew on the wax... its like candy. Then we put each tray in an extractor which spins them at a high speed and basically slings the honey out.
Next weekend we will be robbing our bees for the 2015 season and I am taking some friends to our farm this time to get in on the action. Its a lot of fun and) provided that you are allergic to bees) much less scary than you might imagine. I am hoping to take my camera along with me this year too and document the process... that is if I don't get sick from eating too much honey... its hard to resist!