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What’s that ‘buzz’? It’s locally raised bees at honey harvest time

BEES SWARM as Dr. Tony Kusek, left, and Karry Borer remove frames from one of the hives near Tammy Nolan’s residence.
HARVEST READY — This frame, with fully capped honey cells, is ready to be harvested.

By Twylla Crosby
The buzzing of the ‘’friendly’’ Italian bees grew louder and angrier as Dr. Tony Kusek, Karry Borer and Tammy Nolan, wearing full covering bee suits and hats, worked rapidly to remove frames filled with capped honey from the Kusek’s hives placed near the Nolan garden.
That was the setting for a recent honey harvest from bee hives near Albion.
Tammy, garbed in a fashionably pink bee suit, was armed with the smoker, a pitcher like vessel stuffed with a lighted square of burlap. She waved the pitcher wafting white smoke over the area where the men were removing frames covered with honey from a box taken from the top of the hive.
The smoke helps to calm and/or deter the bees from their mission of guarding their hive.
The upset for the bees began when Karry lifted the top lid off of the hive, handing it to Tony and then handing him the box filled with frames of honey. Each box or ‘souper’ contains eight to 10 specially sized frames installed at a specific distance apart.
Tony or Tammy gently brushed the bees off of the frames with a soft brush and checked to see if the honeycomb was fully filled and capped, making it easier to take the caps off with a serrated knife before extracting the honey.
Capped honey is preferred because, “it tells us that the bees have figured out it is at optimum moisture, which is between 18 percent and 15 percent,” Carol Kusek said. At that point, honey can be stored indefinitely.
Partially filled frames were returned to the box. Fully filled frames, hopefully without bees attached, were quickly tucked into a large cooler to be hauled to an extractor located in the garage.
Carol and Tony Kusek became beekeepers five or six years ago, a sideline to his medical practice and her quilting enterprises.
“It’s a very sticky business,” said Carol.

Read the complete story in the Aug. 22 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.