First you have to get into the suit. No easy task! It's a tangle of zips and velcro!
Then you have to light the smoker. Pine needles go into the main chamber. This design must be a hundred years old. I guess if it's not broken, why fix it?! The smoke calms the bees down. Well, it's supposed to.
Give the bellows a few presses, and out puffs the smoke.
Ready for action!
Let's hope the bees are afraid!
The best thing an audience can do when the 'bee man' gets going is to stand far away. The best way to get pictures is to have a friend over with a powerful zoom lens! Thanks John! And then lastly, the main aim is to avoid being stung. The sting tally was as follows:
Frans aka Bee Man: Two. One on the hand, right through the leather gloves, and one on the arm through the suit. Cheeky buggers!
Sara: One on her left cheek. Ouch.
John aka Cameraman: One. On the arm. One was enough!
Nala the dog: Two. Poor puppy! She didn't know what hit her!
Ami: Nil. Great achievement.
Then starts the long task of capping each frame (slicing off the outer layer of wax) and then gathering the honey and putting it on a double sieve. We tried this method for a while but found the honey needed to be warmed. So we switched from a bucket to a big pot and put it into the oven.
This gloopy mess is honey mixed with wax. Left long enough the honey seeps through the double layer of the sieve into the bucket or pot below. An easier method of extracting the honey would be to use a centrifuge. Yes we can get one on eBay, but they are pricey. So we'll see if we can borrow one from the bee club next time.
Our first jar! Otway Fields Farm Honey.
Did I mention that this is a sticky business? I think we used almost every bowl and container in the kitchen!
This is the leftover wax. Some day soon we'll melt it down and make a bunch of candles. Or some furniture wax. Any more ideas?
And here is our final result. 31 jars of pure honey. No additives or preservatives. No flavour enhancers. Perfect. The sad thing is that we cannot sell it. Too many rules and regulations. We can only consume the honey ourselves or give it away. So if you come and visit us on the farm, you'll probably be sent home with a jar of this golden liquid.