Friday, February 10, 2012

Sweet Failure

Last week, it was time for a bit of housekeeping, or hivekeeping. Our bees died a few weeks ago, and we needed to clean out the hive, tidy up, and try to figure out if we can reuse it for next spring's bees.  The assumption was that I, a novice beekeeper, underfed them, which means we assumed they ate all their stored honey before they perished.  This year’s bees, as my oldest likes to say, were a “big fail.”

We dismantled the hive and pulled out the frames in a hodgepodge manner, avoiding the angry lone ranger bee buzzing around us.  And then, in the midst of the destruction, Mowgli found a frame with a section of capped honey!  We’d been sad about the bees, and the fact of the remaining honey could be ominous in terms of what might have killed the bees.  But for that day, we just didn't care.  We had our own honey!  And as luck would have it, we had happened to stop at the bakery that morning for a fresh loaf of five-seed bread.

So we picnicked, of course.  We made some stuffed eggs, and took the eggs, bread, and honey down to the small patch of winter sun at the back of the garden.  And we ate honey until three out of four of us were unable to take another bite. (One of us never notices when he is full and had to be cut off by the holder of the jar.)  The eggs were from our own chickens, but eating the honey from our own bees, even bees that we failed to keep alive through the winter—that was something new for us, and the sweetness on our tongues was so alive with our knowledge that it was the plants around us, these exact plants, and the ones we grew in our gardens right here last summer, that provided the nectar which the bees made into this honey.  It was that kind of garden magic which just cannot be put into words.  But you can put it right in your mouth!  And we did, and it was good.  

1 comment:

  1. This post makes me happy. Happy for the glint of early spring sun, happy for the home-grown food, happy to imagine y'all sitting around together, & happy to imagine Mowgli's sticky & dirty face and hands enjoying the sweet abundance of 'the biggest acre in Sebastopol'. I hope that you do a hive again. It will bring more abundance I'm pretty sure.