February 19, 2015
We were buzzing with excitement when it was time to check on our hive over the long holiday weekend. The girls and I robed-up — following behind the incredible Paul Cronshaw, the bee man of Santa Barbara to help him out.
OK, help is a stretch. It was more of a watching intently and cheering words of encouragement. We were cheerleaders, just with protective gear instead of short skirts. The bees were on the feisty side leading to a few moments of mom panic, but Paul kept it under control — you don’t get the title of TBM (The Bee Man) for nothing. We may have to divide the hive sometime soon to avoid a swarming situation — sort of a Bachelor rose ceremony, bee style.
Paul taught us about culling the hive to keep it healthy. All of us had a chance to hold drones, which are male bees minus the stingers. The drones don’t do any work in the hive; they’re just there to mate. No comment.
The best, best part of this visit is we were able to have honey from the Casa Rice hive for the first time — we’ve been waiting over two years. Paul handed us a semi-processed rack that was about 70% filled and capped. We had fun extracting the honey, with this crush and strain method it was easy-peasy. No fancy equipment is needed, just a colander and some good mashers.
Crush and Strain Honey Method:
You will need:
Cookie sheets (2)
Clean jam jars and lids
We cut the comb off the rack leaving about ½ inch border where it was attached – Paul said to do this so the bees will add to the newly empty rack with ease. We laid the rack on a large cookie sheet and cut about 2 inch square pieces off. We worked to keep the wire intact so we don’t have to add new wire.
In just cutting the pieces off we were able to extract about 8 ounces of honey. The squares went directly into the colander fitted over a cookie sheet. Then we mashed it with a spoon, but you can also use a potato masher. Mash it until you think your extracted all the honey. Pour the honey into clean jars. If you have any bigger bits of wax, strain the honey over a mesh strainer into your jars.
A bonus about the crush and strain method is mashing the pollen-rich comb with the honey making it a hay fever helper and it’s loaded with zinc. It’s the best honey we’ve ever tasted, fresh and pure, but most of all — it tastes like home.
If you like to support the bees in your neighborhood or have a hive of your own reach out to Paul Cronshaw and other Santa Barbara bee lovers. Paul is Chairman and President of the Santa Barbara Beekeepers Association, a non-profit dedicated to bee awareness education and outreach in our area.