A sticky situation

I once read only a crazy person would consider extracting honey inside their house.

I once read only a crazy person would consider extracting honey inside their house. Of course, the author is right. Extracting honey inside your home are the actions of a mad woman. How do I know? Because I have been extracting honey in my home for the past three summers.

For the small beekeeper with a couple hives in the garden, there aren’t a whole lot of options. I mean, where else are you supposed to extract your honey? You certainly can’t do it outside unless you want 100,000 bees descending on your unfortunate honey-thieving head and garages, barns and sheds are not always the cleanest, nor do they usually have access to things like hot running water. So the house it is.

If you ever want to do an experiment of how many things in your home you touch in a day, all you need is a honey extractor and a stack of supers. At day’s end you will be amazed to find honey on buttons, handles, railing and knobs. On walls, steps, floors and doors. On shoelaces, phones, computers and pets.

I am happy (and so are the pets) to report that things are a lot less sticky as I have become more experienced. The first year I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and spent a large part of my time rushing all over the house doing frantic Google searches, looking for books and hunting down various paraphernalia such as sieves, pans and knives. The honey health inspector would have been less than impressed.

Today the extraction operation runs like a clean well oiled machine…or an adequately greased one anyway. An added bonus is when I’m finished the entire house still carries the lingering scent of honey.

This is in stark contrast to the sauerkraut-making I recently completed. When sauerkraut starts to ferment there is nothing sweet about it. Woo wee! Now there’s a fragrance you won’t find on a perfume shelf. The instructions on making sauerkraut informed me if my house smelled like a wicked fart things were progressing as they should. Judging by the odour wafting from the crock, we could only conclude I was doing a stellar job. However, with only two ingredients (salt and cabbage) I would have had to work pretty hard to screw things up.

In hindsight, I am so glad I made the sauerkraut first and extracted honey second. It would have been so unfortunate to have to mask over all that beautiful honey smell with the scent of wicked fart.

The only downside was during the honey extraction I smelled like honey too. That might not seem like a bad thing, but given the recent bear-in-the-garden incident, it was a tad unsettling to go outside knowing I smelled like a bear’s favorite condiment.

I could just imagine the bear’s reaction. “Hey! Check out what we have in the garden aisle. Honey basted human! How convenient is that?”

One thing I don’t want to be is convenience food for a bear. I think I’ll stick with being fast food instead; food that runs fast; very, very, fast.

As I scuttle about gathering food for winter it occurs to me the only difference between me and a bear is she carries her pantry in her stomach while mine is off the kitchen. I almost feel sorry for her. It’s hard to admire your stores when they’re hidden in layers of fat. I love going into my pantry to admire the sparkling jars of apple juice, honey, pickles, sauerkraut, wannabe-jelly but-instead-syrup, dried apples and tomatoes. I revel in my shelf of beeswax and dried herbs; sometimes I spin off a lid just to inhale a tantalizing whiff of peppermint, lemon balm or sweet cicely. I think I get as much pleasure from admiring my winter provisions as I do consuming them. I doubt the bear contemplates her pudgy belly with the same delight. But who knows? I’m not a bear. Maybe bears do admire their bellies while slimmer bruins look on in envy; after all, the bigger the belly the better the odds of survival. Their wealth is in their fat. For a bear, having the biggest belly is like having a mansion with a BMW parked in front. Too bad we humans don’t view our bellies that way. As for me, I’m not so much worried about a beer belly as I am glad not to be a bear belly.


Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from Northern BC. You can catch up on past columns by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com