Saturday, September 26, 2015

2015 Philadelphia Honey Festival

The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild held the first Philadelphia Honey Festival in 2010. It was to celebrate the placing of a historic marker honoring Lorenzo L. Langstroth, who was born in Philadelphia. Langstroth is famous for inventing the first movable frame bee hive based on the principle of “bee space.” According to their website, the mission of the Philadelphia Honey Festival is “to raise awareness about the importance of honey bees to our environment, our food supply and our economy, and to promote urban beekeeping and gardening.” I had never been to the honey fest before, so decided to check it out this year and see what it was all about.

The honey festival runs for three days at three different locations: Wagner Free Institute of Science, Wyck Historic House/Garden/Farm, and historic Bartram’s Garden. I attended the events at Bartram’s Garden. Here are some fun highlights.

The events included a fall native plant sale, honey related vendors, children’s costume making and bee parade, free Schuylkill River kayak paddling, a honey cooking contest, a bee-bearding demo, open hive talks, and a demonstration of honey extraction.

The open hive demo was in the meadow at Bartram’s Garden, where they have community bee hives. These hives are attended to by various people who live in the area. This is an example of a Langstroth bee hive. This is the most widely used hive design today. (These aren’t the greatest photos because they were taken zoomed in using my phone.)

Another type of bee hive is a top-bar hive. Some members of the Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild showed us what this style of hive looks like. Unfortunately, this particular hive had not been properly taken care of and was falling apart when they tried to pull out the frames.

There is a really great view of center city Philadelphia from the meadow at Bartram’s Garden.

I always wondered how you get honey out of bee hive frames. Now I know after attending the honey extraction demo! The frame is removed from the bee hive and the outer layer of wax that the bees made is scraped off the honeycombs with a knife.

After the wax is removed, you see glorious, liquid honey.

The frames are then placed in a honey extractor, which is basically a stainless steel tank with a spigot valve at the bottom and a crank at the top.

You crank the handle as fast as you can and it rotates the bee hive frames so that the honey comes out of the honeycombs.

When you turn the valve open, out pours magical, golden honey.

Next time you get honey, think about what an amazing thing it is and the many bees that worked hard to make it.

The Philadelphia Honey Festival happens in September every year. Check it out next year!

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