Like honey in the bank
If you opened the door to my fridge today, thirty-five pounds of chanterelles would avalanche to the floor. They’re in boxes and bags, stashed in every conceivable cranny. I acquired this overwhelming supply of ‘shrooms in exchange for a few squares of comb honey. I’ve also traded honey for concord grapes, line-caught salmon, new potatoes, and organic berries. In fact, you can buy just about anything with honey.
Since I don’t sell honey, people often ask what I do with it all. I began to think about this and realized that I use it like money—sort of, except I don’t attach a dollar value to it.
This all started when I began giving it away. I adore comb honey and most people have no idea that such a thing even exists. I wanted people who have never tried it to experience it first hand, so I began giving it to folks along with printed instructions on how to eat it. (Please eat it with something, not in a big choking wad that you eventually spit out. Gross.)
Anyway, it turns out that when you give things to people, they often give you something back—things you never even asked for. So, this being the Pacific Northwest, I’ve garnered wild mushrooms of every conceivable variety, all kinds of produce from greens to beans to peaches, and various types of edible marine creatures. I’ve also received home-canned salsa and soup and even birch syrup, and I’m about to trade comb honey for doggy daycare.
When I first started beekeeping I wanted comb honey, and because I wanted it so fervently, I didn’t get much the first few years. But then I totally fell in love with the bees and I stopped thinking about the honey. I bought some at the farmer’s market and raised bees for the sake of raising bees.
Once my attention shifted focus, once I started caring about the bees instead of their product, everything fell into place. I have never worried about honey since—gallons and gallons of it appear out of nowhere. When I take good care of my bees, honey happens. Now my only worries are how to lift it, how to store it, and where to put it.
There’s a lesson or two in here I think: Take care of your bees, and they will take care of you. Take care of your friends, and they will take care of you, too.
But now I’m done being philosophical, at least for today. I’ve got bigger problems, like what to do with thirty-five pounds of ‘shrooms.