Metabolic Studio Public Salon
Kirk Anderson & Amy Seidenwurm
Friday, August 28, 2009 @ Noon
Free Admission

Let the Bees Be Bees!

About the Salon

Convinced that the current decline in bee numbers is the result of their ‘enslavement’ to industrial processes, Kirk and Amy will discuss the pleasures of beekeeping and ways to encourage the native feral bee population.

Bees make honey to survive, and they’ve been doing it a long time. In its natural state, honey contains sugars, yeast and enzymes. It can also contain pollen and propolis (the resinous substance made by bees to seal cracks and small gaps in their hive). Humans discovered this wonderful honey, and eventually figured out a way to make the bees work for them.

In the early days, beekeepers used an inverted straw basket called a ‘skep’ to house the bees. Later, a man named Langstroth invented the current square wooden box with removable wood frames. This made it much easier for beekeepers to look at their bees and to get the honey out.

Honey can be extracted two ways: the frames can be put in a centrifugal extractor and the honey spun out of the comb or the comb can be cut out of the frame, crushed and the honey strained from it. Commercial beekeepers store the extracted honey in 55 gallon drums until it’s needed. Honey left alone will crystallize. It has to be liquefied to get it out of the drum. If the temperature used to melt the honey is less than 120E it can still be called “raw”. Honey can also be pasteurized (at temperatures up to 280E) to stabilize it and improve shelf life by killing the natural yeast and enzymes.

Humans like to control their environment and the living creatures in it, so beekeepers figured out ways for their bees to make more honey. However, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” really applies to bees. When bees and their hive are messed with, all sorts of problems can arise. If bees are allowed to go about their business as they always have, they’ll create strong hives and delicious, beneficial honey.

About the Salon Presenters

Kirk Anderson is an urban beekeeper and the founder of an LA collective of small-scale organic beekeepers. His goal is to do right by the bees so that the bees can return the favor. Amy Seidenwurm is a fan of bees, food, dogs, wine, music, typography, technology and basketball. In her professional life, she is a digital marketing geek.

Above: Bees settle into a front porch hive cut out of a wood-and-masonry dollhouse, Los Angeles 2009. Courtesy Kirk Anderson

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