Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tips for Gathering Honey

groundhog photo by Jacob DingelOne way to stretch a household budget is to gather your own honey. If you live outside a city, this is usually a matter of patience and common sense. Just keep an eye on what’s blooming in your garden, then follow the bees who visit to their hive. Wear heavy clothes and gloves, put netting over your hat, and near the hive entrance create a fire that is more smoke than flame. The smoke will drive the bees away or stun them, and then you can collect the honey.

Should you ever try to smoke bees out of a dead tree, first make sure there is no animal burrow at the base of the tree. Also – and this is especially important -- make sure that said burrow is not connected in some way to the tree’s hollow trunk. As the trunk fills with smoke, the bees will seek every exit they can find, and if such a connection exists they will swarm through it. This will cause whatever is living there – such as a groundhog -- to leave in a hurry. He will express his anger about it with anything nearby, including a human trying to collect honey.

In such situations, if the groundhog’s jaws happen to lock onto your boot, do not be alarmed. Just let him chew on the hide as you extract your foot. If he decides to chase you, don’t try to climb the tree from which you’ve been collecting honey, as this will only agitate the bees that have not been stunned. In cases like this, it is best simply to leave the honey for another day, and hope you can outrun both the groundhog and the bees while wearing just one shoe. Whatever you do, don't step in the fire with your bare foot.

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