Peace Comes Dropping Slow
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
~ W. B. Yeats, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”
Our own bee-loud glade has fallen silent, but we were able to harvest eight full combs of capped honey:
These five we had sitting out on the counter for some time, since dealing with sticky, messy honey in the midst of kitchen chaos would have been difficult. That’s not an ideal situation — without the bees using their wings to maintain the proper humidity, the honey thickens and will eventually crystalize.
But over the past several days we’ve been working to get the honey out of the comb (though you can see in the photo above that we’ve been cutting off pieces to use as needed, for a cup of tea or to drizzle in an apple pie, for example).
To deal with the honey properly, we finally cut the comb off the bars:
Ordinarily we’d just put these back in the hive and the bees would clean it up by eating the honey and drawing new comb. That will have to wait until next spring, though. We’ll probably wrap these up and store them in the basement until then — the bits of honey left behind will be valuable to new bees who will have to largely start from scratch.
We are keeping the comb in our big maple syrup buckets, since we can use the lids to try to keep the honey in the combs from drying out and getting too thick as we work our way through it all:
To get at the honey, we’ve been breaking off chunks of comb and placing them in a mesh sieve, which, in turn, is placed over a glass bowl:
The messy part is crushing the comb, which is most easily done by hand. It cracks, and then the honey can ooze out. It’s kind of an addictive tactile sensation — nature’s bubble wrap.
When it’s well and truly crushed, you just leave it to drain:
And this is where I am reminded of Yeats. Honey, like peace, comes dropping slow:
But it is golden and lovely and so worth the wait. In a distinctly violent year at large and one filled with losses close to home, the slow, steady dropping of honey eventually fills the bowl, and I’ll take my comfort where it comes.
Right now, it happens to be on the kitchen counter, where sweetness from the flowers requires nothing so much as patience and a moment’s gratitude for the miracle that brought it to that spot in the first place.
Peace comes dropping slow, but it comes.