Thanks to Candace and Mary, we started the day with a field trip to Hewett's Honey Farm in Duncanville, Alabama.
I created an information sheet about how bees live and make honey which also includes a few interview questions to ask on your field trip. Feel free to print a copy and go find your local beekeepers during this beautiful spring weather!
We were lucky enough to have Mr. Hewett for our guide into the beekeeping process. He was proud to explain that Hewett's Honey is 100% organic and direct from the hive to the table, Mr. Hewett does not pasteurize his honey to prevent from granulating as most honey will over a period of time. When honey granulates simply place the container in hot water-110-120 degrees- and it will return to it’s natural state with all the health benefits still in tact.
He also refuses to "blend" his honey to develop a certain flavor or color. Instead, the color and flavor of his honey depends on the source of nectar the bees gather to make the honey. Each season has its own shade.
First we observed the bee "hives"- a stack of simple wood boxes hiding the kernel of mystery within. See that stack of boxes on the table? That's the magic source of the honey we took home. Mr. Hewett warned us not to get in the path of the bees as we scooted closer- bees don't like to be bothered when their legs are carrying heavy loads of pollen to the hive.
Mr. Hewett took quite a bit of time to explain the inner workings of hive civilization to us- it was fascinating and spiked with the sounds of little ones frolicking and chasing each other around.
We learned that the yellow goldenrod is the last plant from which the bees extract their food before the winter sets in. Because pollen is scarce in the winter, the female worked bees send the male worker bees packing. Mr. Hewett said this is because the male bees "eat a lot". I laughed out loud.
Mr. Hewett told Max that beekeeping is a full-time job in this season- and this job has its own workshop and equipment. Then we ventured inside the honey-extraction hut with a little bee blazed on the front door. The first thing to greet us was a set of three large metal tanks holding sweet, sticky honey.
Mr. Hewett explained how the bees use these planes to build elevated beeswax tubes. Max listenend as if rapt.
As Mr. Hewett explains, there is an interesting dynamic between the little people. D. stares down from his mommy's arms with all eyes on Milla, while Milla keeps her eyes on little Sadie across the way.
Mr. Hewett told us that you can measure the queen bee's health by how fills and builds the honeycombs- a half-moon pattern means she is very healthy while scattered, haphazard fillings means the queen is ready to retire.
Mary bought some beeswax, which is what the bees use to make the honeycomb cells.
Mr. Hewett even had flavored honey straws. Each one of the munckins picked their own flavor- and the fought over which one was the yummiest.
Max took some time to interview Mr. Hewett at in the last honey hut while all the little people were busy slurping honey from spoons. He learned that bee stings can help with rheumatoid arthritis in some cases- and that the sting is not something a beekeeper can completely avoid.
You can always pick up your own stash of local Hewett's Honey in Tuscaloosa from Manna Grocery or the River Market. You can also order online at the Hewett Honey website. We are so grateful to Mr. Hewett for taking the time and energy to share this marvelous process with us.