Busy as a bee for a sweet deal

An image of busy bees making honey

Bees contribute a lot more than you might think to our lives.

And an Adams County bee farm is doing its part to continue a sweet tradition.

"They're directly and indirectly responsible for 30 percent of the food we consume," Bernie Andrew, the owner of Andrew Honey Farm, said.

Andrew went into the bee business in 1972.

He's an expert when it comes to knowing how bees make their sweet honey.

"Bees will fly out to flowers gathering the nectar and the pollen from the bloom," Andrew said.

The bees then bring it back to their hive.

"They add enzymes of their own body into that nectar; place it into the wax cells. It is aged and dried out and then turns into honey, Andrew said.

Andrew said it can take a week to 10 days for nectar to turn into edible honey. It takes eight to 10 bees to make one teaspoon of honey. Andrew teaches all sorts of fun facts about bees, including how they survive the winter.

"So the bees on the outside that get cold move to the inside of the honeycomb and they get warmed up and then so none of them will like freeze," Suzanna Johnston, a Macomb area resident, said.

How Andrew extracts his honey is a pretty detailed endeavor.

First, he grabs a frame with a honeycomb inside it and puts it through an uncapper.

It removes the wax from the comb, which is then transported to a heated tank.

Next, he places the frame inside of a spinning machine that extracts the honey.

The honey is spun out of the frame and drained into a separate tank.

After that, the honey is pumped into a bulk tank.

Then it enters a low pressure filter.

Finally, it makes its way into a barrel.

"In a good year, we produce about 16 to 17 barrels, 55 gallons barrels, of honey," Andrew said.

It's hard work harvesting large quantities of honey, but Andrew couldn't imagine doing anything else for a living.

Sure I enjoy it, very much enjoy it," Andrew said.

Andrew said the cold winter created a bad year for his honey bees.

He said he expects to harvest only two barrels of honey this year.