Field Trip: The Neumann’s Apiary

We have been trying to visit an apiary, or honey bee farm for a while, and were playing broken telephone with one up north. But then I shamefully remembered my good friend David’s dad, Adolf Neumann is a beekeeper, and his honey is highly regarded in his area.

We easily co-ordinated a visit and Adolf took me through the steps. But first, a little beehive 101. You can reference the image below at any time.
The bottom section of a hive is called the Brood Chamber. It’s where the queen lives. The bees usually enter at the bottom and fill wooden frames with honey combs for her to lay her eggs in. Then on top of the brood chamber is a wire grid called the Queen Excluder, which, you guessed it, excludes the queen, but allows the worker bees to get up to the rest of the boxes which are called “Honey Supers”. These boxes contain frames full of honey, and no eggs with of the absence of the queen.

So here’s a big question: What is honey? I’ve been dying to tell you. It’s bee puke. You know when bees are drinking the sweet nectar from flowers everywhere? They’re not carrying it about in cute little metal buckets, they’re… drinking it. And it has to get out somehow.
But this turns out to be a good thing. Since honey has essentially already been digested by a bee, it’s a very easy sugar for your body to digest.

As I watched Adolf scrape the beeswax cap off each frame with a heated knife, and place them in the centrifugal extractor, I asked him why some honey we bought recently was called “raw honey.” Thinking along the lines of milk, I asked him if it’s dangerous to eat raw honey. He explained that honey is alive with enzymes (flashbacks to our dairy post) and that it’s pasteurized for one reason: So that doesn’t cloud up on the shelf of a supermarket. How pathetic are we that we have to screw with the most stable food on the planet? They’ve found perfectly edible honey in the tombs of ancient Egyptians, yet we still put it through unnecessary processing simply for aesthetic.
So next time you’re buying honey, don’t buy it at a supermarket. Many are labeled Canadian Honey, but are in fact, if you check the ingredients, a mixture of Canadian and Argentinian honey. Buy it from a small, local producer like Adolf, and buy it raw. It’s not hard to find if you look, and since it might be a special trip, just buy a larger quantity.
It’s not going to spoil any time soon.

Here’s another video. Do you like them?

[vimeo 14787577 w=649 h=365]

3 comments

  • Great post, thanks. We started keeping bees last year and I love it. Pasteurization is so unnecessary for honey, in my humble opinion.

    Beautiful photography! I'm really enjoying your blog.

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