On Sunday, I took a maple sugar tour at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. It started with a half-hour video indoors then continued with a 40 minute walk through the woods. We saw buckets collecting sap in the "sugar bush". Other maples were tapped with more modern collection methods: plastic bags hung on individual trees or plastic tubing connecting several trees to a container. One tree demonstrated pioneer technology, with a wooden spile directing sap into a wooden bucket. The tour then visited the sugar shack where the sap is boiled in an evaporator to make syrup. About 40 gallons of sap are needed to make a single gallon of syrup.
After the syrup is finished it's filtered and graded based on color.
Maple Sugar Tours at the Nature Center continue this weekend (Saturday 3/10/12 at 1 & 3 pm, Sunday 3/11/12 at 1 & 3 pm). The following weekend is the Nature Center's annual Maple Sugar Festival with tours throughout Saturday and Sunday, as well as a pancake breakfast and other activities.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.