The honey is thick, sweet, and warm. "The bees keep the hive at 95 degrees," explains MacKimmie. "They need warmth to incubate the baby bees."
Each of MacKimmie's hives produces 100 to 200 pounds of honey every year. He sells more than a ton of "City Bees" honey annually. Each neighborhood has a slightly different climate and different plants, so each neighborhood's honey has its own flavor. The beehive we're looking at is in Cow Hollow, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge. In the 1860s, this was a pasture. Now bees "graze" on Cow Hollow's flowers, giving the honey a lovely floral taste.
Bees make honey by gathering sweet, sticky nectar from flowers. They mix the nectar with a chemical they make in their bodies. The bees store the mix in a honeycomb cell. After the mix dries a bit, the cell is capped with honeycomb wax. Bees make wax from glands in their abdomens.
MacKimmie harvests honey in the summer and fall. He puts honey-filled frames into his spinner at home. The honey spinner works like a salad spinner, drawing honey out of the frames. The honey is poured into jars, labeled, and sold.
Most people buy MacKimmie's honey because they love the flavor. "Store-bought honey is heated and filtered, which takes out the pollen and minerals," says MacKimmie. "It is refined sugar water," in his opinion. The heating and filtering are to make the honey look better.
Do the bees miss the harvested honey? "Bees make honey to eat during the winter when they are less active," MacKimmie says. "A healthy hive can make two or three times as much honey as they need. I make sure my bees have plenty to eat."