Friday, July 15, 2011

The Honeybees of Treehog Farm

Our friends Janessa and Burleigh have this wonderful little farm near our house, and among may other things, they make the most amazingly delicious honey.  It tastes like exotic fruit and tropical flowers.  It is really unlike any other honey I have ever tasted.  And yesterday I had the great fortune of being invited on an up-close and personal tour of their beekeeping operation, big white bee suit and all!  I hope you are all suitably impressed by my bravery!
Above is the smoker, which has a small fire of newspaper and wood in the bottom and then a big wad of wet grass in the top to cool the smoke off so it doesn't burn the bees.  It is used to calm the bees as you mess with their hive, and to curb aggression.  Although Burleigh, who is a second generation beekeeper, told me that yesterday was a perfect day to work with the bees because the weather was so nice after a previous day of rain that the bees were all busy and content making lots of honey in ideal conditions.
The hives are surrounded by an electric fence to keep bears from knocking over the hives to get to the honey.  The fence is baited with pieces of bacon to tempt the bears to go for that instead, which then results in a nasty electric shock to the nose.  Without this bait bears will just barrel through the fence before they realize it is electric.  Pretty clever, and kinda gross. 

Below is the mouth of the hive, where the bees come and go.  The bees will range up to three miles to source their nectar, and their destination changes throughout the summer as new trees and wildflowers come into bloom.
Yes, that is me above in the bee suit.  Pretty cool, right?  

And below you can see a closeup of the bees at work.  The bright yellow section is where they are making more bees, called brood chambers, and the lighter yellow part is honeycomb.  Apparently the little female worker bees do pretty much all the work except the reproducing. They live about six weeks and do various different jobs throughout their short lifespan, starting with taking care of the brood and ending with going out into the world to search for nectar.
And here is the finished product.  Yum.  And here's a neat little side benefit to honey, aside from it being delicious.  Apparently eating unpasteurized local honey can help immensely with seasonal allergies by helping you build up an immunity to local allergens.  

Janessa and Burleigh's farm is called Treehog Farm, and it is in Rockingham, VT.  Besides the honey they also raise chickens and turkeys for meat and eggs, which are all also delicious, loads of gorgeous vegetables, and have just branched out and gotten two quite adorable pigs named Hummus and Tabouli.  I took so many pictures yesterday that I needed to split this post into two posts, so I'll be back on Monday with photos of the rest of the operation.  But if you are local and would like to get some information about how to get your hands on some of this honey click here to go through to their facebook page.  And become a fan while you are there, it's new!  Thanks so much Janessa and Burleigh for the very cool and informative morning!

Have a great weekend everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great post. I love to see people working with honeybees, as they are so rapidly diappearing. A great job to your friends for supporting the bees!