Sweet buzziness

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by Regina Cozzi

When you think of the Fall harvest you probably think apples, pumpkins, squash, and various other fruits and vegetables, but there are plenty of other common foods that get harvested during this time of year as well.

Last September, we were fortunate to visit one of the three local farms that participated in the ‘Open Farm Day-Meet Your Farmer‘ event:

The Swinkels Bee Farm

The farm, operating since 2012, is owned by Sandra and Mario Swinkels. The couple gave us a tour, including the bee hives, the honey house, and they also taught us about the honey extraction process.

The honeybees first collect the nectar from flowers, then return to the beehives.

Once at the beehive, they deposit the nectar into pre-existing hexagonal cells in the wooden frames containing the honeycombs.

The worker bees have a life expectancy of six weeks in the summer, so they need to work quickly in order to make honey. Once the bottom of the cells get filled with nectar, the bees continue to build the cells upwards, as they accumulate more nectar throughout the summer months. The bees fan their wings to dry the nectar. This process is also facilitated by the warm air in the beehive, which helps evaporates the water from the nectar, thus turning it into honey. The bees then seal the top of each cell with beeswax.

When the honeycombs are full, then it’s time for the honey to be harvested.

The honeycombs are removed carefully.

The beeswax formed at the top of each frame is removed. Sandra renders the beeswax to make an assortment of handmade products.

The frames are then added to the honey extractor, which will be spun until the all of the honey is forced out of the honeycomb cells.

The honey is heated at 80°F in a settling tank. Once the tank is full, the honey is ready to be poured into containers.

This was our first time visiting a honey farm. We were really surprised to see how tame the honeybees are.

Such a fun and educational experience for the whole family.

And the honey… DELICIOUS!!

More than just honey…

Besides honey, the Swinkels have created a wide range of beeswax products; candles, hand soaps, creams, cosmetics, and much more. You can purchase Sandra’s homemade  products online and the Antigonish Farmers Market.

Don’t miss Open Farm Day on Sunday, Sept. 17, 10:00am-3:00pm.

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