July 2012

When Honeydew and I were weddin’ plannin’, July 25 was the date I had my heart set on, as this time of year is the only time of year in Montana when it is reliably fabulously temperate.  Yes, usually the rest of July is lovely, too, but I’ve yet to know a July 25th that wasn’t beyond gorgeous.

No, Honeydew told me, that is the busiest week of the year in beekeeping.

Oh, whatever, I replied in all my beekeeping ignorance, we’ll be fine.

So he let me have my way.

And I’m pretty sure it’s because he knew that we would, in fact, be entirely too busy to even remember our anniversary — as was the mutual fact yesterday — much less celebrate it.

Yesterday, Honeydew pulled thousands of pounds of honey, and I bottled hundreds of pounds of the same.  We wrapped endless gorgeous beeswax candles and ornaments, polished brass candlesticks, ironed tablecloths, and in general pulled a solid 16 hour work day.  At the end of it all, Nan — who’d kept Maggie Rose happy all day — appeared with veggie and pork sliders — and all of our friends convened to help us label the thousands of bottles of honey stacked all over the living room.

I hope they’re still our friends when the Red Ants Pants Music Festival is over with!  See y’all there.

And Honeydew, happy anniversary.  I love you so.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.


It’s the only time of year when I don’t go over my allotted internet data package: as of yesterday morning, honey extracting has begun, my friends!  And the first honey that poured into my bottling tank yesterday was crystal clear, water white, and certainly the best you’ve never tasted.

For everyone that has standing orders with us for the 2012 crop, no worries, we haven’t forgotten about you, and will get those orders out next week – for now, the crew is pulling honey out in the fields and I’m home frantically preparing for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs, Montana.  We’ll be leaving tomorrow to sell the best honey you’ve never tasted; golden beeswax candles, ornaments, and blocks; bee-autiful jewelry;  and pretty fabulous hats, hoodies, and tshirts, too.  Hope to see you there – I know I like dancing to Emmy Lou Harris and Corb Lund while the bees are out dancing with the flowers.

Go, bees, go!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

If you’re on the East/Best side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a stop at Sun Point is a must.  It’s just a few minutes of easy walking — I once did this walk in 3″ heels, when Emily and Jeff were married — from the parking lot out to these vistas:

Looking east, towards the St. Mary Valley and the Blackfeet Nation.

South, at Little Chief.

West, towards Mts. Fusillade, Reynolds, Heavy Runner, and Logan Pass.

Two Hot Buns, with two Baby Buns.

We were frolicking around Sun Point at just shy of 11am when these pictures were taken.  This guy, who was snoring at least as loud as a half respectable grizzly bear, was just waking up.  Yes, that’s a bottle of McCormick vodka next to him.  You never know just what kind of wildlife you’ll see in Glacier National Park …

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

The day after the 4th of July/Hillstock crew climbed up Napi, we decided to put our feet up and drink in the views from the Big Field.

Just kidding!

We loaded up all 16 or so of us, including Nan and Chuck — as my parents shall hereafter be known on this blog, in the post-Maggie Era — AND Maggie Rose, and proceeded to scramble up into the basin above Apikuni Falls, in Many Glacier.

Isn’t Many Glacier ridiculously beautiful?

I’ve been there more times than I can count, and the above picture still causes me to shake my head in happy wonder that this really is my backyard.  Seeing Sherburne Reservoir dead calm and glacial blue below Mts. Wynn, Cracker, Siyeh, and Allen (left – right) takes every bit of the sting out of March’s many disappointments.

Once we had passed all the tourists en route for the falls — including a crazy woman standing on the trail telling everyone who passed her about “the glacier you can touch!” just past the waterfall — we pulled ourselves up into the Apikuni Basin.  From there, some of us decided to pick our way up the cliff bands guarding the Natahki Lakes, on to the summit of Mt. Altyn, and down through the scree to the Many Glacier porch.

Others of us decided to pick our way up the streambed coming down from Apikuni Ridge and an unnamed peak, with no particular goal in mind but to soak up the perfect stillness of the day, and the easy companionship of each other.  As the one hauling the nearing-30-pounds baby, I figured I’d get a half hour in and be heading for the porch, myself.  But somehow, my lungs kept expanding and my quads kept their steady course up, up, and up, and without really thinking much about it, several hours later I found myself just shy of the top of the unnamed peak, drinking in phenomenal views of the Many Glacier Valley, my favorite part of the park.

I found a cozy rock and shared a leftover hot dog with Maggie Rose, and sat in silence for a few moments, reflecting on Maggie’s unusual delivery and my subsequent hospitalization for salmonella, and the resulting despair I felt last July, when I wasn’t entirely certain I’d ever be able to even do another Hot Buns Hike, much less climb a mountain.  And yet there I was, on top of the mountain with the Hot Buns, my parents, and the baby herself.

Hot Buns: JC, Claire, Michy, Nan, LJ, me, Maggie Rose, Pseudo Sista

When Layla and Claire returned from summitting the unnamed peak, the Hot Buns posed, including Maggie Rose, for whom we waived the 20 mile hike requirement for membership.  Perhaps the mountains in the background, with Mt. Gould at slightly right of center, can give you an idea of just how far up this gorgeous ridge we walked.

Claire’s surprise visit was a highlight of Hillstock for all of us.  Come back soon, honey.

Brother Dear’s panoramic i-Phone app is providing us with all sorts of entertainment this summer.

After the Hot Buns got their photo shoot on, a quiet reverence again settled over our group, and I know I wasn’t the only one whose thoughts turned to the young men we’ve lost entirely too soon, and some of the reasons we keep hiking, through arthritis and asthma and heartbreak.  Those men are always with us, in the mountains.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  Some photo credits to Sanford Stone and Layla Dunlap.  All Rights Reserved.

The Glacier County Honey Co. hive is buzzing with activity – Honeydew and Neil have the extracting plant set up, Keith and I got all the comb honey supers put together and out in the fields, we mocked up our vendor tent for the Red Ants Pants Music Festival, wholesale orders are ringing the phone off the hook (thank you, Montana tourism!), and all trucks have new brakes, fresh oil, and are running, thanks to Darling Brother-in-Law.  Or at least they were yesterday!

Yesterday, Honeydew went out to the northern end of Glacier County to check on the hives and see if the honey is ready for pulling:

Those bees sure have a nice summer home, huh?  Each box above the bottom two is called a honey super, i.e. where the bees store superfluous honey.  I love that ours are so colorful and cheery.

See the bees all over the new white wax at the top of the frame?  They’ve made fresh honey, stored it in individual slightly-upward-tilting hexagon shaped beeswax cells (they made those, too), and when the cell became full, the bees produced more white wax to cap over the cell and store the honey.  When we extract the honey, we’ll use what’s called an uncapping machine to take off that top layer of gorgeous white wax so that the honey can flow freely.  Later, we’ll render the wax for beeswax projects and sales.

That frame isn’t mostly capped over, so it’s not quite ready for extracting, but the weather forecast is looking hot and dry … that honey is going to flow, y’all.  We should be extracting by Monday at the latest!

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

These two.

Many summers worked in the shadows of Glacier National Park.

Many mountains climbed.

And eventually, promises made for many, many years to come.

July 16, 2005, Sun Point, Glacier National Park, Montana.

June 28, 2012, Sun Point, Glacier National Park, Montana.

Happy one-day-belated anniversary to my 2nd favorite* Glacier National Park love story, Emily Deer and Jeff Vick!

*the favorite, of course, being my own with Honeydew – no offense, y’all!

May all the seasons ahead be as wonderful as those stolen summers working near Glacier.

2012. Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

Summer near Babb brings with it endless opportunities for frivolity, and for us beekeepers, endless work, too.  But one of my favorite things about summer is the opportunity to go to someone else’s kitchen for a delicious meal that I don’t have to make up or clean up after.  Most of the eating establishments around here close their doors shortly after  Labor Day, and although I love to cook, I’ve never argued with Honeydew when he offers to take me out.

In June, dear friends Emily, Jeff, and Ella visited, and took me out to the Park Cafe for lunch.  Park Cafe is renowned for homemade pies, though I happen to think their veggie burgers and the gallinaceous green salad are also praise worthy.  Jeff rode his bike up to Logan Pass and back that morning, and so he was very deserving of pie.

Not just one piece, but two.

Chocolate cream and banana cream pie, smashed together.  Heavenly.  That’s my new recommendation if you’re near Park Cafe.  This has been your occasional public service announcement from Glacier County Honey Co.!

Pie for strength, y’all.  Mmmmmm.

2012.  Glacier County Honey Co.  All Rights Reserved.

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