Harvesting Honey and Making Jam

Last week my bee friend, Lorraine, came over to help me with my hives.  We looked into the ‘nuc’ or baby hive and she went holy moly.  I guess those blighters had been working like mad and were already getting crowded and in need of a new home.

Fortunately I’d bought a whole new hive at Buckerfields earlier, so we took all of the frames from the small hive and moved them into a new home.  We then went over to the old hive, and Lorraine said “I can hear them buzzing from here” as we came toward it.

Here was another bunch of hard-working bees, and Lorraine just went berserk when she saw the amount of capped honey in the frames in the top hive box.  She said that’s about the amount of honey she used to get after a whole season, and this is just July, and I removed four frames of honey in early June.

But I didn’t have any more blank frames, and Lorraine said I had remove the ones filled with honey ASAP as the bees could swarm if it gets too full in there.  So today I did that, and man were those bees ever angry.  The kid at Buckerfields, the bee expert, said they just get madder as each week goes by into fall.

So now I have five heavy frames of honey to spin, and that’s a heart-sinking thought: The mess of the hot honeycomb knife, the wax on the counter, the physical hell of the spinning, and the mess of getting the honey out of the extractor.

When I say things like that to Lorraine she says brightly you have to think of it as a labour of love.  And I reply I feel more and more like accepting my mom’s offer of $10 to go and buy myself a jar of honey.

And then as these bee excursions always end, I got stung right on the bottom of my chin.  It was so hot with the bee suit on I had sweat blinding me, I was desperate for a moment of air and took off the hood when I thought I was far enough away from the bees.  I wasn’t, as one vindictive maniac decided to follow me and finish me off.

After Lorraine and I looked at the hives, I went to Osoyoos and came home with about 40 pounds of ripe apricots.  Mom loves apricot jam and eats at least 60 jars of it a year, so I have to make an awful lot, which is fine.

But if anyone reading this has tried to make apricot jam, you know it’s got to be one of the trickiest jams in the world to set.  I’ve eaten some jam that would best be called apricot soup, and that’s really nasty.  At least when mine fails, it’s been boiled like hell, so I call it apricot syrup.

And apricot syrup is great for yogurt, on pancakes or waffles, or poured on a roast ham, but mom doesn’t want apricot syrup, the woman wants apricot jam.  She wants it to remain on her piece of bread until she’s eaten it, not dripping over the sides.

So imagine my annoyance at just having made about eight jars of syrup.  Now I have to re-boil these with more pectin, and then surely to God this is going to gel.  Between honey extraction and jam making I’m likely going to have a nervous breakdown.

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