A Honey Harvest | Living the Country Life
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A Honey Harvest

Beekeeper Val Jorgensen runs an organic herb, flower, and vegetable farm in Westerville, Ohio. “Our farm is very diversified, which gives the bees multiple crops to pollinate,” Val says. She tends an apiary of 11 hives to stock her farm stand with a number of bee products, including jars of raw honey, chunks of honeycomb, herb-infused honeys, and herbal balms. Join her as she extracts honey-laden frames from her hives in this award-winning story. Writer Teresa Woodard and photographer Bob Stefko both earned silver awards from the Garden Writer's Association for this gorgeous story of a honey harvest.
  • val jorrgensen, beekeeper

    Beekeeper Garb

    Sporting her veiled hat, Val Jorgensen is ready to harvest honey from the hives. She says she only takes a portion of the honey, so the bees have plenty of food to sustain themselves through the winter. 

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • beekeeping, honeybee, smoker, beekeeping

    Smoking the Hives

    Val smokes the hive to mask the bees alarm pheromone. She pulls on her veiled hat and lights the wood chips in her smoker, adding a handful of damp grass to encourage the smoke to billow. She slowly waves the smoker around the first hive to gently urge the bees out of the top. Val says she loves working around the bees and even welcomes occasional stings for their anti-inflammatory venom.

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • beekeeping, honeybee, honeycomb, beekeeping

    Honeycomb Frame

    Val Jorgensen removes a wax-capped frame of honeycomb ripe for harvesting from the hives she tends on her farm in Westerville, Ohio. 

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • honeycomb, hive, beekeeping

    Raw Honeycomb

    The honeycomb can be scooped or pressed into a bowl and then filtered through cheesecloth. Honey requires no heating, no additives, no processing of any kind. It is ready for packaging or eating right away, fresh out of the hive. Back at the barn, she scrapes the honeycombs’ wax caps to release the honey. She then places the frames in a spinning extractor. As the centrifugal force draws the honey from the frames, a thick golden syrup pours from the extractor’s spigot ready for bottling.

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • honey dishes, sunflowers, celebration, outdoor dining

    Honey-Theme Celebration

    Val treats her team to a celebration of the bounty of the hardworking bees with mead (honey wine) and other honey-infused dishes such as pumpkin tea loaf, cornmeal pancakes, and pulled pork. Cheery yellow is reflected in the centerpiece of sunflowers and hydrangea gathered on the farm.  

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • zinnia, honeybee

    Flowers for Pollinators

    Val Jorgensen grows a host of annual and perennial flowers to cut for the weddings and events hosted at the farm. Bees—both honeybees and native bees—play an important role in pollinating plants. Here, a European Honeybee feeds on a dainty yellow zinnia. In addition to flowers, Val also grows many types of herbs. Val allows some of her herbs to flower in order for the bees to gather nectar. She says the herbal nectar sources are “like a medicine chest for the hive.”  From spring to fall, the honeybees have a continuous supply of various nectar sources.

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • honeycomb, honeybees, frame, beekeeping

    Honeybees at Work

    One of the most remarkable aspects of honeybee behavior is their ability to communicate through dancing. In their dances, the bees transmit information by means of vibrations, sounds, and scents. 

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • Val Jorgensen, beekeeper, honeycomb

    Honeycomb Joy

    Even a wasp can't resist the sweet fragrance of fresh honey! Pop a piece of honeycomb in your mouth and the honey will release from the wax chambers as you chew. Continue chewing the remaining edible wax as you would chewing gum until it is gone. “I love honey fresh out of the hive,” Val says. “Either straight up by the chunk or spoonful.”    

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017
  • Subscribe to Country Gardens

    For more ideas on how to preserve the bounty of your garden and make your outdoor spaces glorious, subscribe to Country Gardens magazine!

    Date Published: August 10, 2017
    Date Updated: August 23, 2017

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