Sunday, September 24, 2006


fourth place ribbonsIt appears that a foolish consistency sort of inhabits this beekeeper's brain, because both the Monastery and the Rooftop honey have won the same ranking, fourth place, at a nearby county fair. And yes, one of them was fourth place in a field of four! Now, if I had managed to keep the ANT out of my rooftop entry, there was a chance I could have tied for first or earned second...

Yes, there was an ant, floating right near the top of one of the jars (the rules as you to enter three one-pound jars in as close to perfect and duplicate condition as possible, in order to pretend to people that somehow their food comes from some non-human-hands kind of place).

honeyed ant under microscropeHere she is, the interloper. Like a true friend, MaryEllen maintains that the ant must have crawled in during the judging, but I know that honey extracting brought me a temporary scourge of the critters... I also, shortly thereafter, admitted to needing reading glasses. So, put 2 and 2 together, and you get...fourth.

We had fellow geeks as houseguests the night that I brought the honey back home from the fair, and we got to talking about my geeky USB microscope, and about the ant, so we took a look. You all might not agree from this picture (which is a shabby capture of the original image) but I found this ant beautiful in an other-worldy kind of way. Under the 'scope, you could look right into her eye (nearly took my breath away) and trace the graceful curves of her antenna. Somehow, in all her travels, she lost the tip of the lower one. Her body is bent in a rictus that probably resulted from the very dry nature of honey. It is less than 20% water (according to the judge, I achieved a noteworthy 15.4% moisture, a total surprise), and dehydration caused her contract along her midsection. I don't understand all I see here — there are gray areas that look, for all the world, like muscles to me — but they could be scrapes, crystals, or bubbles, or something else I don't recognize.

True confessions: I entered this fair in a dead rush, after saying I would not bother with any this year. The bee inspector from up that way came to our club meeting early in the month, and asked fervently for entries because some snafu had left his best contenders stuck with their entries off in another county. So I rushed these in, did not take as much care as I might, and STILL kinda hoped for more (and expected less).

The bee inspector was also the judge of the competition, and I kind of wonder whether he is going to give me some friction because of that ant. I am already preparing, and this is how: Here in the U.S. there is this honey called "Really Raw" that is marketed for WAY too much money, and the gimmick is that all the bee parts and wax and you-name-it that we beekeepers usually filter or skim off is all included for the bee-eating public. Well, I intend to tell the bee inspector that I was test-marketing "Really CRawLY" honey, with extra protein for the Adkins Diet crowd. "Perhaps country folk have not heard of it yet?" ...Or would that be bad? ;-)

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