The Story of DABBS OF GOODNESS
It started with Dabbs of Honey...
It all started in 2019 when my husband and my sons thought it would be a great idea to buy me a beehive for our backyard in Elbow Park. I have a B.Sc. in Zoology, have worked in business development my whole life, and love gardening. They were right, it was a wonderful idea...although a little intimidating at first. How do I take care of 60,000 little, industrious bees, who have sharp little stingers?
Setting Up the Hive
I was so fortunate to have my bee buddy, Dave Bedomme, from Worker and Hive, come and set up my hive for me. He helped me through my entire first season. And when I say help, I mean he did most of the work because I was still very tentative amongst those tiny little stingers. As you can see, he is very comfortable.
The First Year
The first year was fun, with Dave's help. I learned so much about bees. They are the most fascinating, industrious, and smart creatures I know. They are so calm and rarely have stung us and only when they have been caught in our clothes or we inadvertently swipe at them. Dave also helped me extract the honey. Again, he did most of the work and I helped as much as I could. We extracted 20 lbs of honey in 2019.
The Second Year
It was a long hard winter for bees and our bees did not survive. I moved the hive to a sunnier location in the yard and bought a nuc from Worker and Hive. Our nuc (a nucleus colony that comes with a queen and a cluster of bees) was 5 frames in a plastic, vented transport box, and was packed full of bees. We installed the new nuc on a rainy day, with limited time, on a break between meetings. As you can see in the photo, the bees were very curious about their new landlords. The bees loved their new location in the sun and amongst the flowers. I did hive inspections with my son, who is very zen and a natural beekeeper, and became very comfortable working with the beautiful and fascinating little bees. We also bought our own extractor and we extracted 37 lbs of honey in 2020.
The Third Year
The bees survived the winter and it was an early, beautiful spring. The nectar was flowing and they quickly filled two honey supers. I had to delay extraction, and prevent swarming, so I added a third super. The first extraction was in mid June - 37 lbs. I thought that if we had 37 lbs in the spring and could extract again in the fall we may double our 2020 extraction. Surprise! They bees were having so much fun flying around collecting nectar that we extracted 35 lbs at the beginning of July, 36 lbs at the end of July, 59 lbs mid August, and 12 lbs in the final extraction in September. A total of 179 lbs extracted in 2021.
Honey extraction is so gratifying that when I bought my extractor, I invited my friends over to help and they did all the work as I watch. We frequently have guest beekeepers and guest extractors.
Remove the frames from the hive. We only remove the frames that have capped honey and leave the uncapped honey for the bees to finish processing.
Scrap the cappings off. This opens up the honey cells to let the honey out when spinning.
Spin the honey. Start slow and then speed up because if you start fast the heavy honey comes out to fast and pushes the honeycomb so it's all at an angle. Then the bees have to fix it.
Strain the honey and let the bubbles rise to the top. Sometimes I get so excited I jar the honey before the bubbles rise to the top. Then they rise to the top in the jar and you have a whitish film on top. It's still super yummy.
Jar the honey. It is so gratifying seeing the tower of beautiful jarred honey.