Editor: King of the End
The flower garden is covering one side of the forest that has been cleared out. There are small and cute white flowers sprouting on canes as tall as a person which are planted here. These are raspberries. Tina and I created this garden by planting the split root and crown of the wild raspberry canes from the forest.
“Wow, Kurt-sama. They are so pretty!”
Tina lets out a high pitched voice in excitement, admiring the garden in front of her. Turning around with a smile, Tina who has been assisting me in this garden looks pretty too.
“Indeed they are. The flowers are wonderful too, but soon we can harvest the raspberries. Exciting, isn’t it?”
“Yes! I love sweet and sour raspberries!”
We didn’t create this garden to admire flowers. The Arnold family’s governed land is poor. The new village I govern is even poorer. In such cases, there’s no time to raise ornamental flowers.
Then, why on earth would we grow these plants? The reason is obvious: to fulfill the dream of becoming the best pastry chef in the world. Raspberries can become sweets’ ingredient, but that’s not my only goal. Raspberries are a perennial plant that can be harvested twice a year, meaning they can be found growing wildly in this mountain, so they are strong against sickness and insects, and easy to handle.
In the corner of this garden, we’ve lined up ten wooden boxes around 50 cm tall. In the bottom part of the wooden boxes, there’s a passage used by bees, which are coming in and out busily.
“The bees are just as happy with the raspberries. They suck a lot of nectar.”
“Raspberry flower’s nectar is sweet. The honey produced from raspberries will be delicious and have a refined sweet taste.”
Tina and I have been working on beekeeping. Contrary to Japan, sweet flavors in this world are extremely precious. I can’t obtain the first indispensable ingredient in sweets: sugar. Other than sugar, sweetness can come from fruits, or honey. The first one is highly influenced by seasons, but honey is sustainable.
Unless I can get a stable source of honey, there’s nothing I can do. Luckily, there are wild honey bees in my fief. I made the best use of my beekeeping experience back in Japan. Since my parent’s home’s livelihood in Yamanashi were orchards and beekeeping, my knowledge was more than sufficient.
I’ve thought about collecting honey without working on beekeeping, but it’s difficult to find wild nests. We have to crush the nest every time we collect honey. The number decreases startlingly fast if we do it too often. Besides, there’s another problematic issue: we can only collect a small amount of honey from wild nests to begin with.
“Tina, are you ready?”
We put on hemp clothes that covers our whole bodies. They’re heavy enough to protect us from bee stings and they mask the scent that the bees hate. The honey bees have a calm temperament and won’t aggressively assault humans themselves, but they will come rushing to attack anyone who gets close to their hive.
We approach the wooden boxes carefully. Hundreds of bees come swarming around us. I ignore them and take off the lid of the wooden box. The bees were startled and vigorously flew out to the sky in an instant. I stretch my hand into the box to push through those bees.
Inside the box, there are ten wooden frames place in equal intervals. Each frame contains honeycombs. I take out one honey frame. There are countless numbers of hexagonal sacs just like in a natural bee nests. Inside them, there are pupae and larvae… as well as a great amount of accumulated honey, proven by how a honey color coats the wax.
With a brush, I remove the bees clinging to the comb.
“The honey is gathered at last.”
Tina gulps and purrs. She has been waiting for a very long time.
“It takes a very long time, doesn’t it?”
We started this beekeeping activity three years ago. The first year was a disaster. We did find a wild bee nest, then moved the queen bee and worker bees to our wooden box, but they were totally annihilated due to bad workmanship of the box.
Afterwards, we remade the wooden box over and over again without feeling discouraged. Through trial and error, somehow we reached the point of enabling honeycombs to form inside.
From then, the colony got larger. It was good that we succeeded in increasing the number of bees, but since the number of worker bees weren’t enough, the honey was used to breed. We couldn’t harvest it.
First, we devoted ourselves to increasing the number of bees by adding more hives. However, since we didn’t prepare the countermeasures against cold weather, once winter came, the bees were totally annihilated.
We started the second year by increasing the number of bees in the same method. The bees could get through winter somehow. Moreover, in order to reduce the food insufficiency from the increased number, we planted a flower garden near the boxes. If the bees had to look far for nectar, even the worker bees would end up feeding on it instead. By preparing plenty of food nearby, the amount of honey preserved in the hives would dramatically accumulate.
Then, today, we’ve finally reached this point.
“How is it, Kurt-sama? Is it good enough?”
“It’s a success. The honeycombs are filled to the brim. Look, you can see right now how it’s dripping. It looks great.” I answer while taking out the tool to adjust the bee combs on the side of the hive.
The tool is called an extractor. It is shaped like a drum, with a metal fitting to enable the honeycombs to be fixed vertically inside. …The principle sounds simple, but it’s actually complicated. Still, we could build it somehow.
Inserting the honeycomb frame in a snug fit, I cut off the honey wax which clings to the cap first, with a knife. Honey turns into wax and naturally functions as a hard cap. After I cap off the honey, the golden-colored syrupy honey oozes out, piling up at the bottom of the extractor.
“Well then, I’ll start.”
There is a handwheel handle on top of the extractor. When I spin it, the inner part of the hardening honeycomb rotates, which causes honey to steadily flow from the centrifugal force.
It’s a primitive method. The hive gets air-compressed and the honey is thoroughly extracted. There certainly are other ways to take the honey. However, they would end up breaking the beehive. By using centrifugal force, I can take out the honey and reuse the hive.
After returning the honeycomb into the beehive, the bees come flying back too. We can harvest again next year this way. It’s a hard labor for bees to make a hive. If we let them rebuild it from scratch, they would need to allocate more time to breed worker bees. They won’t have time to stockpile honey and the amount of honey we could harvest next year would be greatly reduced.
Basically, after extracting the honey, I return the honeycomb into the hive and come back later with a new comb. I work on the whole hives. Tina switches with me when I get tired in the middle of the process.
“Whoa, there’s really a lot in there, Kurt-sama! It’s the first time I’ve seen this much honey!”
With sparkling eyes, Tina’s tail is swinging around. In this era, acquiring honey is a real treat. Even if we’re scouring the forest all day long without rest, there’s no guarantee that we’ll find a wild bee nest. And even if we do, there’s only a small amount of honey preserved inside the nest.
“Yes. Finally, we get the result of our hard work. Honestly, I thought that it was impossible so many times.”
For two full years we couldn’t harvest any honey. Tina had been a great help all along. We change places to collect the honey oozing out from a single wooden box and throw off the stuffy clothes.
“Can I lick it?!”
“Wait for a while. I’ll finish up real soon.”
I went and return with a huge bucket. Then, I put on a coarse fabric as a filter. Honey that has just been poured out from the hives contains rubbish, larvae, carcasses, husks, fragments of combs and other stuff mixed inside. I clean the honey in one go this way. If I don’t do this, the honey won’t be edible. Then, finally, the honey is collected. There’s about 13 liters of honey from a single wooden box. This feels great.
“Now, let’s give it a taste.”
Tina and I dip our fingers into the honey. The honey stickily coats our fingers. Then, we lick it off.
Sweet. So sweet that my cheeks are loosening up. I can taste a hint of sourness, is it because this is the honey made from raspberries? Tina holds both of her cheeks, making high-pitched sounds that doesn’t sound like a human’s voice, then shows the best smile she has. Seems like she really likes it.
“We should collect from the rest of the boxes tomorrow. Let’s go home now. I want to make sweets with this honey right after we get back.”
“Whoa, Kurt-sama’s sweets! I’m excited!”
Tina’s eyes sparkle, with her tail swinging happily.
“I’m going to make amazing sweets, sweeter than anything you’ve tasted before. Look forward to it.”
“That… I’m so happy I can die now.”
Geez, Tina sure likes to exaggerate. The sweets I’ve been making for Tina only use wild grapes or akebi fruits from this mountain. Although they carry a hint of sweetness, I think they are still not enough to be called as sweets. However, I’ve obtained honey now. First-rate quality honey at that, even.
I haven’t shown off my skills in a long while.
I can make real sweets!
Now, as the first step to make my dream in this world come true, let’s bake the best sweets I can do.
Red honey photo from Keez Beez.
Second chapter! I’m loving the technical details when I’m the one reading. Translating them, on the other hand, is a monster. Not to mention that I think the character count of this chapter is longer than the previous one. Sobs.
The natural resource is abundant, but the fief and villages are poor? Well, they just need MC to become rich, it seems!
Anyway, if you find typos or other mistakes, feel free to comment it out. I’m revising my translated chapters in silence from time to time. And now you can comment on pages! Ain’t that nice?
Feedback is appreciated~