Adventures in Bee-keeping

“Ah, if men could and would listen to the lesson of the bees” reflected Pope Pius XII during an audience with Italian beekeepers in 1948, “how much better the world would be.”

The Sisters agree with the noble pontiff and began their own apiary, or collection of bee hives, in May at the new farm.  The bee community which specializes in quiet diligent work has always been a symbol of the Mystical Body of Christ.   Their contributions to the created world have also been immortalized in St. Peter’s Basilica, as the famous sculptor Bernini added them to the bases of the four columns of the baldacchino surrounding the high altar.

Tim Brady is graciously helping the Sisters in their bee endeavor.  He has helped the Sisters with everything from gathering materials to ordering the most disease resistant honey bee, to loaning the Sisters videos on the life cycle of the bee!  The Sisters are looking forward to this new adventure and to the new varied ways they can contemplate God’s creation.

We will keep you posted on the progress of our beehives; please check back!

Honey Harvest 2014

In June, 2012, the IHM Sisters purchased their 80 acres on Colwich Road; in addition to the buildings and beautiful landscape, the Sisters acquired a wild beehive.  This discovery would lead them down the exciting road of bee-keeping.  The following year, the Sisters (with much help) acquired two additional hives and moved the wild hive to a set of frames in what is now called "Our Lady's Apiary".  After much tending and care, the Sisters were able to benefit from their work.

This fall the IHM Sisters were blessed with a bountiful honey harvest.  Two of our four hives produced honey: thanks to the near-by alfalfa fields.

For those unfamiliar with the process of harvesting honey, here is some helpful information:

  • Bees build comb on frames; it is here that they store their honey (made from the pollen collected from flowers in the area).
  • The honey that is harvested is surplus honey; bees make more than enough honey to survive through the winter and to provide delicious honey for us.
  • At the time of harvest, the frames are removed from the hive; the capping (wax covering the honey) then has to be removed from the top with a heated knife.
  • The frames are placed in a spinner to extract the honey from the comb.  The honey is then run through a strainer; after which it is heated to 125 degrees F so that it won't crystalize. The honey is now ready to be bottled and enjoyed.

This sweet experience was fun but a little sticky.  IHM was joined by several helpers throughout the day.  We are so grateful to Tim Brady, our bee expert. Enjoy our photo album of the experience:

Wanted: Lost Bees!

 

The Sisters had their first experience of a bee swarm this past spring. It seems as if the hives were getting a little too crowded so the bees left in search of another home. Fortunately, this was discovered and the bees were recovered.  It was quite an experience to return the bees to their home but, with the help of Tim Brady, the bees were back to their hive in no time.