The second year at the Google Hiveplex was a busy one, and two weeks ago, we harvested a delicious bounty from our wildly productive hives. But the sweetest part about having the four hives on campus is the Googlers from all departments who have gotten into beekeeping or become more aware of honeybees because of their presence on campus.

During the honey harvest, guided by Bill and Debbie Tomaszewski of Marin Bee Company, Googlers from all walks joined in with the Google Beekeepers and local beekeeping friends from the San Francisco Chronicle on the harvesting activities. We pulled frames of honeycomb out of the honey supers (the boxes stacked on the very top of the hives in which the bees store the honey), uncapped comb, worked the extractor and filled jars bound for our cafes and beyond.

We also participated in a tasting featuring nine honeys from around the country, including entries from Google beekeepers’ personal hives, the San Francisco Chronicle’s urban rooftop hive, the Marin Bee Company’s suburban hive and more. The colors, consistencies and flavors varied as much as their origins, and everyone got a chance to note their own impressions of these honeys during a “Silent Tasting” where participants added their guesses about the honeys’ flavors and origins to tasting sheets. Afterward, we revealed the honeys’ “hometowns” (one came from as far away as Illinois) and nectar sources, which ranged from pine and fennel to eucalyptus and mustard flower.

It’s tough to say how our harvest this year compares to last year, as we still haven’t devised an ideal method for weighing the honey harvests, but we did end up with more honey supers on the hives at harvest time this year than we did last year. After the harvest, the supers and their empty frames were returned to the hives to allow the bees to pick every cell clean as they get ready to settle in for a cozy winter.

Everyone who participated in the harvest walked away with a sweet reward and, we hope, a new appreciation for the work our tens of thousands of busy gals put in to make it happen.