People are constantly asking me if I have any honey. Once I'm sold out the question becomes "When will you have honey?"
Some people are more specific. "When will you have (spring, fall, or some with comb)? Everyone has their favorite. I usually remind them that I am not in charge of the bees and their schedule and that "I work for the queen." What I'm doing with the bees is a delicate supply and demand dance, one in which my first priority is to ensure their survival in the coming winter.
When the bees' personal space is full of honey I add a super. That's just a shallower box that goes on top of the other two bigger boxes where the bees actually live and where the queen lays eggs. The bottom two boxes which are larger are called deeps and that entire part of the hive is called the brood chamber or nest. Read my last update from earlier in the season.
The amount of honey I take from the bees is the honey that they can afford to lose. They don't know how much is enough for winter and never think, that's enough work, let's take a vacation. They eke out all the production they can as long as the weather is warm enough and there are nectar-filled plants available.
This season I had a lot of swarming so honey production was slow. The saying among beekeepers is that you can make bees or honey. If the colony swarms or splits in two, you get more bees YAY but less honey BOO.
I ended up with 5 gallons of spring honey when it was all said and done. The said and done includes harvesting (the hardest part), extracting, jarring, printing labels, and labeling and cleaning up the jars.
Right now the bees are working on creating a dark honey with a lot of complexity in the flavor. Spring honey taste like, well...spring. I always say it's taste like a bouquet of flowers.
It has all the nectar from those first apple, blackberry, clover, blueberry, and honeysuckle blossoms. And it's remarkably clear. I think it's my favorite.
Right now I'm selling the spring honey and waiting for the girls to wrap up the late summer foraging. Normally I harvest honey in October but last year I did it in September because I was trying to finish before my grandson was born.
Gratuitous baby photo:
Currently, the focus is on keeping the small hive beetles in check and letting the girls get their work done. I'll keep you posted on the fall honey sitch. You can read about my very first honey harvest every here!
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