Updated: Aug 30, 2019
A lesson in beekeeping passed through the generations, a small town Italian local offers a lesson on how he collects and processes his bees' honey, the same way his grandfather did decades before him.
While visiting my family in the town of Vazzano, located in the province of Vibo Valenta, I had the opportunity to witness my cousins' beekeeping process first-hand, from start to finish. My great-great grandfather was a beekeeper over half a century before in the same town, carefully caring for his bees and making fresh honey throughout the years. In his retirement, my grandmother's cousin began beekeeping as his grandfather once did, recruiting the help of his family in this timeless endeavour.
One begins with the harvesting to honeycombs in the giardino — literally meaning "garden," this is actually a large acreage where they keep animals, fruit trees, and a variety of fresh produce growing nearly year-round. The 'hives' (a box filled with wooden slats where the bees make their honey) containing the the filled honeycomb are vacant upon collection; the honeybees leave one 'hive' for the next, once the honeycomb has completely filled with honey and has been sealed off with wax. These are the boxes that are then collected and brought home for processing.
Once in the house, the slats of honeycomb are paced in a large metal tub, where the wax seal is chipped off with a tool similar to a plaster putty trowel or sliced away with a long and sharp knife. While the wax is separated for later use — for wax-based products like beeswax candles — cleaned combs of similar weight (kept even due to weight distribution) are placed in a circular drum of an electric honey extractor, which spins the honeycomb at speeds swift enough to draw the honey from the comb. It then drips out of the bottom of the machine, into an empty pail.
Before bottling and serving, the honey makes its way through a filtration system to remove any impurities collected during the process. Meanwhile, the empty 'hives' are filled with clean, new wooden slats to be placed back in the giardino, where the process will begin all over again.
Anyone ready to try some homemade honey?
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