Old March 9, 2009, 06:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Drucilla's Sweet Tooth (Harvesting the Honey) [Oinos]

Summer was over and true to her word, Dagma showed up at Oinos' doorstep one day with Drucilla. She yelled out her greeting to Oinos while Drucilla went to the window ledge and peered into the cottage where Oinos slept when he was there.

"Oinos, we're here to teach ya how to harvest your honey. Get down Drucilla, you'll get some when we're done."

Dagma laughed her hearty laugh at her best friend Drucilla, and pointed to the sign, "Looks like ye're a part owner of the beekeeping business, but Oinos has ta learn to harvest it first."
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Old March 14, 2009, 12:14 AM   #2 (permalink)

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Oinos came out of the cottage and greeted the pair. "Serale, tis a good day to get some work done. I hope there's enough honey to get things started." He notice Drucilla's eagerness and was amused by how anxious she was for her favorite treat. He looked at the Skeps and was rather pleased to have that many. He realized that he had help in getting this done.

He nodded to Dagma and went on, "What all do I need to get so we are ready to start? There were a few things left behind, I hope that's what we need."

Looking over at Drucilla, Oinos said, "Not surprised to see you here for the first harvest. You deserve the first taste."
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Old March 15, 2009, 09:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"Well the first thing we need is a bucket of water, you furnish the bucket and I'll furnish the water." She walked into the spare cottage and looked around. "Here's one."

Spying a five gallon bucket she filled it with water. "Now clear away all this stuff and let's clean the place. It has to be pretty clean cause ye don't want a messy workplace.

"Then I'll refill the bucket, We'll need to wash out hands. Honey is sticky."
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Old March 15, 2009, 10:52 PM   #4 (permalink)

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She told him to furnish a bucket and then she went and got one herself. However, Oinos had no problem with Dagma, without her, he would still be starting all this. He thought the place was already clean, but throughout his life he learned that female perception of cleanliness was a lot fussier than those of males. So he went ahead and cleaned what he already considered to be a clean workplace. He figured that it must be important, else she would not have mentioned it. Oinos took care to dilligently follow the Druidess' instructions whatever they might be. Besides, he already knew that fermentation was more likely to mess up in a dirty place than in a clean one.

True enough that honey was sticky and they would be needing to wash their hands. Dagma would not likely consider licking the hands clean as a suitable substitute.




"Then I'll refill the bucket, We'll need to wash out hands. Honey is sticky."
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Old March 18, 2009, 12:35 AM   #5 (permalink)
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As the two cleaned up the place and got everything in order to harvest the honey, Dagma gave Oinos practical information. "Now smoke is the beekeeper's third line of defense after hat and gloves. Most beekeepers use a "smoker" — a device designed to generate smoke from the incomplete combustion of various fuels. We'll use some green grass mixed with straw.

Smoke calms bees; it gives 'um a feedin' response in case they have to abandon der hive due to fire. Smoke also masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees or when bees are squashed in an inspection. The ensuing confusion creates an opportunity for the beekeeper ta open the hive and work without triggering a defensive reaction. IAlso when da bee consumes honey the bee's belly distends, supposedly making it difficult to make the necessary flexes to sting.

So outside I have a smoker. I don't really need it and when you're a good druid you shouldn't need to use dem fer dat purpose, however, I want you ta use it today so ye don't lose yer hive or so they don' swarm.

I see you have some containers here. We need another bucket for the honey and a wooden comb if ye bought one, if not I have one."
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Old March 19, 2009, 11:04 PM   #6 (permalink)

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All along, Oinos thought that the place was plenty clean enough. In fact it was cleaner than he had been accustomed to. However, if Dagma thought that it needed to be cleaner, then it was so. He did his best to bring things up to the Druidess' standards. He did not want anything to go wrong especially over such a simple matter as cleanliness.

He had read about a smoker in the book left by the previous resident Beekeeper. Green grass and straw certainly did seem to be an effective way to make smoke. It ought to work eeal well. Then Dagma mentioned pheromones, he had never heard of them before. He spoke up, "I pretty well follow what you're saying but you've confused me a tad talking about pheromones. Tell me what they're about so's I can better follow what you're teaching me."

After that was covered, Oinos said, "I sure do want to use that smoker. I don't have so many hives that I can afford to lose one. I don't think I'll ever have that many." He listened attentively as she went on and got another bucket. He said, "I used all my wooden combs so its good that you got one."
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Old March 23, 2009, 08:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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A lesson on bees and hives

"Now get yer book out and let's go over the basics of bee life and the structure of the hive."

 

Honey is a thick liquid produced by certain types of bees from the nectar of flowers. While many species of insects consume nectar, honeybees refine and concentrate nectar to make honey. Indeed, they make lots of honey so they will have plenty of food for times when flower nectar is unavailable, such as winter. Unlike most insects, honeybees remain active through the winter, consuming and metabolizing honey in order to keep from freezing to death. Early humans probably watched bears and other mammals raid bee hives for honey and then tried it themselves. Once people found out what honey was, next they had to learn how to get it from the bees safely!

Honeybees have a bright color pattern to warn potential predators (or honey thieves!) that they have a weapon to defend themselves. Their weapon is a modified ovipositor (egg-laying tube). This is combined with a venom gland to create a stinger (formally known as an aculeus) located at the end of the abdomen. Because the stinger is modified from a structure found only in females, male bees cannot sting. When the hive is threatened, honeybees will swarm out and attack with their stingers to drive the enemy away.

Honeybees, like most insects, look at the world through compound eyes. These are made of hundreds of small simple eyes called ommatidia. The images received by all the ommatidia are put together in the insect's brain to give it a very different way of seeing the world.

Honeybees are social insects. In the wild, they create elaborate nests called hives containing up to 20,000 individuals during the summer months. (Domestic hives may have over 80,000 bees.) They work together in a highly structured social order. Each bee belongs to one of three specialized groups called castes. The different castes are: queens, drones and workers.

There is only one queen in a hive and her main purpose in life is to make more bees. She can lay over 1,500 eggs per day and will live two to eight years. She is larger (up to 20mm) and has a longer abdomen than the workers or drones. She has chewing mouthparts. Her stinger is curved with no barbs on it and she can use it many times.

Drones, since they are males, have no stinger. They live about eight weeks. Only a few hundred - at most - are ever present in the hive. Their sole function is to mate with a new queen, if one is produced in a given year. A drone's eyes are noticeably bigger than those of the other castes. This helps them to spot the queens when they are on their nuptial flight. Any drones left at the end of the season are considered non-essential and will be driven out of the hive to die.

Worker bees do all the different tasks needed to maintain and operate the hive. They make up the vast majority of the hive's occupants and they are all sterile females. When young, they are called house bees and work in the hive doing comb construction, brood rearing, tending the queen and drones, cleaning, temperature regulation and defending the hive. Older workers are called field bees. They forage outside the hive to gather nectar, pollen, water and certain sticky plant resins used in hive construction. Workers born early in the season will live about 6 weeks while those born in the fall will live until the following spring. Workers are about 12 mm long and highly specialized for what they do, with a structure called a pollen basket (or corbiculum) on each hind leg, an extra stomach for storing and transporting nectar or honey and four pairs of special glands that secrete beeswax on the underside of their abdomen. They have a straight, barbed stinger which can only be used once. It rips out of their abdomen after use, which kills the bee.

The central feature of the bee hive is the honeycomb. This marvel of insect engineering consists of flat vertical panels of six-sided cells made of beeswax. Beeswax is produced from glands on the underside of the abdomens of worker bees when they are between 12 and 15 days old. House bees take the beeswax and form it with their mouths into the honeycomb. The cells within the comb are used to raise young and to store honey and pollen.

The comb is two-sided, with cells on both sides. As you can see, the cells are perfectly uniform in shape. Not only that, but the combs are built a precise distance apart depending on whether they are meant to contain food or young bees. The nursery area of the hive is called the brood comb, and that is where the queen lays her eggs.

Flower nectar is one of two food sources used by honeybees. The other is pollen. Both are gathered by the field bees as they fly about on their daily foraging flights.



Honeybee (source)

Beekeepers encourage overproduction of honey within the hive so that the excess can be taken without endangering the bees. When sources of food for the bees are short, beekeepers may have to give the bees supplementary nutrition. Supplementary nutrition usually comes in the form of sugar (sucrose) mixed with water at proper ratios.

 


"Now first we're gonna smoke the hive to make the bees sluggish. That's cause we don' want ta kill yer bees, and of course not swarm." She lit the fire in the smoker and when it began smoking she handed it to Oinos. "Now take that and I'll pull out the honey combs. Run it up and down so da bees fall off before we get it out."

Last edited by Firebird; March 23, 2009 at 08:11 PM.
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Old March 23, 2009, 09:23 PM   #8 (permalink)

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He read the parts of the book Dagma wanted them to go over. He read carefully so all that would stick with him. It had been read previously by him, but Oinos understood that the Druidness considered it sufficiently important to read again. If he was to be a successful Beekeeper, Oinos needed to know all this without going back to the book. Once that was done, it was time to get to work and gather honey. He realized the importance of getting the bees sluggish. One could not gather honey in the company of agressive bees.

He took the smoker that Dagma had just lit and held it so it was not smoking him and the Druidess. He watched with care as she pulled out the honey combs. He was going to be doing this himself and he had better get it right.

He ran the smoker up and down, back and forth to get the bees off the honey combs. Using the smoker and watching what Dagma was doing took all of his attention.
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Old March 24, 2009, 07:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Dagma brushed the bees off the comb gently. "Ye need ta make sure ye get the honey comb, not the brood comb. Yeah, this 'un here has good wax caps on it. Now I take my wooden fork (that haircomb like thing) and as I take it out, put the lid on."

Moving the comb inside, she made sure Oinos followed with the bucket which was positioned under the comb so they would not lose honey. When that was done she stood in front of of the big bucket and started popp off the wax caps covering the cells in the comb. "Ye need to get some of the cheese cloth and cover the bucket. The honey'll flow slow, so take dis other fork and pick out the debris as the honey flows through the cloth. " Just then the caps were off, and she took a long knife and cut the honeycomb. When that was done the honey started flowing out. It flowed slowly and pieces of small debris, bodies of dead bees and wax flowed into the cheesecloth then the bucket.
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Old March 24, 2009, 09:29 PM   #10 (permalink)

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He watched Dagma brush the bees off the comb gently. Nice and easy, but forceful enough to knock them off and keep them in the hive. Oinos also looked at the comb carefully, he sure did not want to mess with the brood comb. That would mean less honey in the future. Getting the lid on promptly was good too, no need in having bees come out of top after the honey comb or after him.

He took care to keep the bucket under the comb. If any honey dripped, he did not want to lose it. For a beekeeper, honey was money. Oinos got some cheesecloth and spread it over the bucket opening. Just as the Druidess had said, various sorts of debris accumulated on the cheesecloth, mostly bodies of dead bees and bits of wax. Enough was there slowing down the filtration of the honey for Oinos to carefully rake it out and allow the honey to seep through quicker. He sure did not want that stuff in the honey. As they were doing this, Oinos made sure he saw how Dagma was popping off was caps to get the flow started.
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Old March 25, 2009, 09:25 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The harvesting of the honey was messy to say the least but after two or three hives they called it a day. "What does yer book tell ye about after ye get the honey harvested?" Dagma want Oinos to look up the information so that he would know where it was, as a ready reference. "I ain't gonna be able to help you after tomorrow, so ye need to find out how to prepare the honey for sale."
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Old March 25, 2009, 11:15 PM   #12 (permalink)

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It was a messy job and after doing a couple more hive, they called it a day. When she was ready to depart, Dagma said that the next brightenting would be her last time to assist with honey gathering. Thus he needed to do what the Druidess just demonstrated as well as whatever other preparation was needed.

Before leaving, Dagma asked Oinos what instructions the book gives for after the honey is harvested. Oinos replied, "I've been studying that and have it pretty well memorized". He went on, " The Honey that was just extracted through a cloth is the first or “run” Honey, which is the best quality. The second comes from wringing the cloth, while the meth is obtained by washing the cloth in warm water. The meth is used for making mead. The Raw Honey is not considered as fit as that heated for ½ hour with a little water and egg white to remove impurities. One needs to take not to boil the honey, just heat it. After that it gets poured into jars and proper labels affixed. Then its either sold or used for other purposes like Honey Wines or candy."
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Old March 27, 2009, 05:05 AM   #13 (permalink)
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"Good job, Oinos. I'd take that honey there and prepare and package it before ye get any more. It'd be better to take all night doing that, and catch a few hours sleep. That way I cain see how ye do tomorrow. Then I'll help ye some more tomorrow. It wouldn't hurt to have someone else helping ye until ye get it all harvested. It should take no more'n a cycle if ye have help. I'll send over a friend of mine, Jakie Goodspoon. He's a halflin'. Good worker, fine youngun'. Lives in Harding and does odd jobs. Shouldn't cost ye more'n a few crowns a day fer his help."

She started to walk off, then turned around and pulled something out of her copious pockets. "Here's a half dozen eggs, just happened to have some on me." she laughed, then turned to go. Conjuring eggs was easy.
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Old March 28, 2009, 02:28 PM   #14 (permalink)

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Seemed like a good idea to finish with had been started already. He did not have a good feel for how long this would take. When the Halfling was mentioned, Oinos became concerned about the cost. Then the mention of just a few crowns a day for no more than a cycle put him at ease. Then before she left, Demda gave him some eggs. He had forgot about needing eggs. He took them and simply said, "Thanks".

Then he got to work. First he did the tricky part, separating the eggwhite and yolks. He did it very slowly and very carefully. The stove was hot enough so he poured honey into a large pan, added water and eggwhite, then set it on the hot stove. He stirred the honey slowly but constantly for 1/2 hour. According to the book this would remove impurities. Once that was done, he set it aside to let it cool and did the same with a another pan of honey, water and egg whites. He then poured off the honey into jars from the first batch and discarded the sediment. Oinos continued until all the honey was in jars. He cleaned the pans after each use. He remembered the admonition about cleanliness.

Once that was done, he soaked the used cheese cloth in warm water, washed them in the same water and poured the resulting Meth into jars for later use in making Mead.

Then he washed everything and went to bed, sleeping very soundly until the first sun cast a bit of light upon him.
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Old March 28, 2009, 10:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Oinos slept soundly for several hours until the lights of the suns shined in his eyes and woke him up. Though he was groggy he was tough so he was able to get up and get some coffee and food in him before Dagma appeared. When she appeared she was followed by a young halfling, who had a big grin on his face. A few crowns would help his mother and he was old enough to be a good worker like his da' used to be.

Dagma introduced him, "Oinos this is Jakie, he's the young'un I was telling ye about. I want to show him what to help you with today and then he'll come by each day until the honey's harvested. So how far did ye get on getting yer honey ready."

She had expected him to do no more than one batch. When she saw he had done the three hives, she was impressed. "Seems to me ye'll be needin' a "picker up" spell, and just happen ta have one." After she cast the spell Oinos felt good, good enough to tackle the hives again. "Don' recommend ye skippin' another night's sleep. Ye're gonna be awful tired when that one wears off in about 10 candlemarks. Besides ye got Jakie here who'll be here next brightening at first light. Won't ye, Jakie?"

Jakie nodded. He was an adolescent male with long dirty blond hair, but was dressed neatly in old clothing, which looked like his working duds. His large feet were covered with light brown fuzzy down. He seemed eager to help.

The three went off to the hives and started the process over of smoking, and harvesting the hives. When three were done, Dagma was ready to leave. "Get a good night's sleep, this darkening, Oinos. Jakie, I'll walk ye back to Harding. Got to go there and see yer mom about her preserves. I promised I'd sample some when she finished them." She looked at Oinos, "See ye later, Oinos. I'll be around these parts in a couple of cycles. When are ye getting yer grapevines?"
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