New Hampshire Nature Notes
by Eric Orff
This week has been rather warm and sunny kind of savoring the days and trying to put things in order before winter.
One of my main tasks has been wrapping up my honeybee work. A couple weeks ago, my neighbor Phil, who has kept a number of hives at his place just up the road from me, that I often admired as I frequently drove by, offered to help me prepare my two honeybee hives for winter. In so doing his experienced eyes said for the first time in two years I could harvest some honey. My very own honey! And we did leaving me with just over a dozen honey frames to extract the honey from.
Fast forward to last Sunday and my daughter Amy and granddaughter Erin came down, after we all had Sunday dinner at their place, to help me spin out the honey from the frames in an extractor. This machine with some vigorous arm action whips the honey out from the individual cells and collects in the bottom of the machine for filtering and storing. Despite our total lack of experience, well if you can count watching You Tube videos as experience, I had that. Erin took the long knife to cut the caps off the honey cells and Amy and I spun it out in just over an hour's time. Collecting it all filtered in a food grade five gallon bucket. A lot of honey in my book.
I spent some days this week jarring the honey, but needed another couple dozen honey jars to complete, which came in just a couple days. I completed emptying the filtered bucket of honey Wednesday. Thursday, I decided to complete the process by extracting the last of the honey, turns out five pounds, from the bee'swax/honey mixture from when Erin cut off the caps. I'd say a quarter to a third of a bucket full.
I placed the empty honey bucket on the counter placed the filter in it and dumped in the whole ball of wax, sort of speak. And placed a small electric heater pointing at it to hopefully speed up the process. You do need a good dose of patience to filter honey, I can tell you that.
That process went pretty smoothly and yes added another five pounds of honey for me to jar which I quickly did.
This left me with a ball of mostly wax. Turning to my YT experience I put the wax once drained into an old crockpot to melt the wax. I cranked the crockpot on high to get it going with plans to check it often.
It was so warm outside I opened the deck slider and sat down in the comfortable chair on the deck. And fell asleep. I had been thinking, before I dozed, that I would check the pot in fifteen minutes or so.
And I dozed a bit longer than I had planned say a half our, and some would say more based on later evidence. My wife was off in Concord and wasn't home yet.
I awoke from my little nap and headed right into the kitchen to check the honeypot/wax. And what a surprise i had that would fit right in with this week's annual celebration Halloween. For to my horror as I stepped into the kitchen turning right to see the pot, there hovered a swarm of honeybees. Some number I'll say! Luckily many were up against the window kitchen window over the sink, so I opened the top to let them out. I took the now boiling caldron of honey/wax outside on the deck in front of the window. More bees streamed out. Then I moved it further away on the deck railing. My wife arrived just as I shut the deck slider and the kitchen window leaving what I considered a manageable number of bees to contend with. My wife had a different opinion at that point. The number still buzzing in the kitchen were catchable as I used the damp cloth, I had used to wipe down the jars, to catch the stragglers and tossed them outside. My wife did, let's just say, announce, that there was still a swarm now hanging, or buzzing, about the living room. Far fewer in the living room luckily. Wouldn't you know it. In the windows where the bees were on the top the screen was up there. And where the bees were on the bottom the screen was there too. I put that same wet sticky cloth to work swiping them up and releasing them out the windows.
While this did take some time what I found next was pretty amazing. Back out on the deck didn't the bees still challenge the glass on the now closed slider. Imagine back at the hive some bee, while I was not looking, sniffed out the potpourri of boiling honey found it way into my kitchen and out. Then went back to it's hive and did a song and dance to give all the other bees the directions to my kitchen counter. Geeze. Bees are good at giving directions.
My wife was first down to let the dog out this morning. Her comment when she came back to bed was that the kitchen was now pretty sticky. So now we have a wonderfully smelling, remember the boiling honey for some time, and likely even would tastes pretty good to, say, Winni the Pooh. And I'm literally stuck with a Velcro kitchen.
Oh, I've managed far worse over the years. I have a way of bringing Halloween scenes home. There was the bucket of slithering baby eels I brought home one night, within the first year of marriage, and introduced them into my then apartment aquarium. Who knew they would slither out while I headed out before daybreak to use some as bait for fishing leaving my wife to wake up into a Twilight Zone scene with baby eels slithering about everywhere in our lovely apartment. And the bats. Yes, i brought numbers of hibernating bats home to keep them safe for the winter when I had to evict them from a Manchester fire station. Let's just say, bats can become restless some winter days.
I think I may have some recounts of those events as videos on my You Tube channel New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife. Please subscribe to my channel. Or go to my web site: http://www.nhfishandwildlife.com
and click the link.
Looking like another sweet day out there today. Bee Happy.
Summer Has Returned, oh wait, there was no summer.
read the note
read the note
First Frost in Epsom this fall.