The good news is that we ended up with about a gallon and a half of honey from the bees this year. Including the maple syrup, we’ve got quite a supply of all-natural sweeteners. Raw honey is still sugar, so nobody really recommends that you get carried away, but it does contain a lot not found in commercial, pasteurized honey, like vitamins, enzymes, and antioxidants, and is naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. Good stuff.
The bad news is that we have honey because the bees are dead. They were trucking along just fine until a few weeks ago, when their hive got knocked over. I suspect one of the dogs, but we also had pretty extreme winds for a while and the cinder block base was a little off-kilter from several freeze-thaw cycles. Alas, they served us well.
I took the frames from the top box, but left the bottom body, so when we get new bees, they’ll have plenty to eat. Extractors are expensive, so I tried the uncap and drain method, but after a night of draining, I literally had about four drops. Those bees are pretty smart, and everything is designed so that the honey doesn’t just drip out after they put it in the cells. So I ended up gently scraping the comb off the foundation, then straining everything through a mesh colander. Really, it worked pretty great, and I also now have a bunch of beeswax to use.
I never thought much of bees before (aside from the pollination thing), but they are really quite fascinating.