Running of the bees

While I was away in Australia for my usual year end escape, my adoptive bees left their hive for good. I’m not really sure what had happened, but there was a mass exodus following a few incidents of hearing loud sounds from the hive. The day I returned, I opened the cardboard box to get a glimpse of 7 months of hive building.

Along with some magnificent combs, was a small amount of honey left, so I saved what I could into three jars – one for Thomas Lim of Edible Garden City/Plan Bee, who loaned me the hive, one for my family, and a spare one, which my brother took. Harvesting the honey was such a messy affair, it dripped everywhere, and my chickens enjoyed a taste too. It even attracted a passing bee. I couldn’t help wondering if it was from the same hive.

On this day, I discovered that I am allergic to beeswax, which causes inflammation of my lips upon contact, and throat when swallowed. I’ve been experiencing inflammations when I use certain kinds of lipbalms, and have been trying to isolate if shea butter, cacao butter or beeswax was the allergen. Well, now I know. But fortunately, the inflammation dissipates quickly.

The corner which I’d left them now feels like a dead space, and I’d like to try my hand at baiting a swarm using one of the empty combs left behind and another cardboard box. In the meantime, I’ve been raising caterpillars that I’ve found on my mother’s lemon plant. A transference of emotions, perhaps.

This month’s Esquire Singapore features an article on beekeeping, there’s a slight mention of me. Big thanks to the magazine, and writer, Letitia Tan, for covering such an important topic. Read it if you have the chance!

photo (4)

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  • adriantan January 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I also have combs that I’m looking to harvest. Anything I should look out for?

    • Olivia January 28, 2016 at 1:22 am

      Is it a fully occupied hive in a conventional beehive? I didn’t have a hive tool, which would have been very helpful, instead I broke off parts of the comb, and used a ceramic knife, which caused much of the honey spill. Place the combs in a bowl (not metal) and run to your kitchen – close the windows and make sure no bees follow you 🙂 Because this “hive” was really just a cardboard box, it was quite difficult to harvest honey while it was occupied. If it was a conventional hive, I would have needed a smoker… which I don’t have, either!

      • adriantan January 28, 2016 at 8:56 am

        It’s an abandoned bee hive. I think they left due to overheating of the hive given its location and the killer weather.

        I’ll try to break off a few chunks.

        Would it need to be treated before consumption?

        • Olivia January 28, 2016 at 4:56 pm

          Ahh I see. What Thomas told me was that treatment is optional; if you’d like to err on the side of caution, you can boil it to pasteurise it. I didn’t do so.

          It’s important to note that honey is hygroscopic, and can ferment if the water content is high and has yeast. I think that’s what could have happened to my honey because it smells more like mead that honey!

          Ok please remember that it can be very messy! All the best Adrian! 🙂

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