Honey is produced by bees collecting nectar from flowers and flowering trees. My bees forage across a broad swath of central Washington, DC. Within one mile of the apiary (blue line) they find mature linden trees lining the streets, tulip poplars on the Capitol grounds, Japanese scholar trees in Stanton Park and mature climbing ivy in all kinds of nooks and crannies. Within two miles (green line) the bees forage the wilder areas of our capital city - the National Arboretum, the banks of the Anacostia River and the forested hills of Brentwood where black locust, redbud, cherry, service berry, henbit and other native plants thrive.
Second Story honeybees enjoy rich forage across a variety of plants and a blooming season that can start as early as March and stretch into late June. The wildflower honey they produce is rich, sweet, aromatic and a terroir all its own. Liquid gold!
I usually harvest the honey over the July 4th weekend. The process generally takes two to three days from start to finish. There are three phases to the harvest:
Day One: Pulling the frames from the hives Inspecting the hives and identifying which frames of honey to harvest. Pulling these frames out of the hive, sweeping the bees off the frames and getting the frames into the house for safekeeping. The bees generally aren't too happy to see their honey stores stolen so I try to work quickly, and usually enlist my friend Del to help me. Once we've pulled my frames we'll go over to Del's hives and get his frames of honey.
Day Two: Extracting the honey from the frames I'll get up early to clean my basement kitchen and set up the extracting equipment. Del and I have harvested together often enough that we've worked out an efficient set up and workflow that minimizes the amount of honey we drip on the floor. Del will come over with his frames of honey and we'll start extracting by 10am. We can spin 18 frames at a time which really makes the harvest go much more quickly. We'll break for lunch (thanks Charles!) before diving back down into the basement to work through the remainder of the frames. By late afternoon our wrists will be sore from uncapping frames, our arms will be tired from cranking the extractor, our backs will ache from lifting and shifting heavy equipment all day but some of the hardest work lies ahead = clean up. The last 90 minutes of our harvest is spent meticulously cleaning all of the equipment and the basement kitchen.
Day Three: Putting the wet frames back on the hives The frames we harvested are empty of their honey but still sticky and messy from the extraction process. We give those frames back to the bees to clean up. Within a few days the bees will have collected the residual honey and consolidated it into a few frames and stored it where they want it. The cleaned frames are perfectly dry and ready for the bees to store their another honey crop in the following year.
Thank you for supporting Second Story Honey and the bees!