Over the weekend Luke and I were able to finally pull the fall honey harvest off of two of our hives. Our Italian queen “Golden Girl” lived up to her name yet again as we pulled close to three gallons off of her hive. The “grumpy” hive only produced about half a gallon. I can’t give the grumpy hive to hard of a time though as they produced more honey than the other 11 hives. 2019 we will split our hives less and focus more on honey production.
This honey was made mostly of Marigold. You can tell by the smell as we cut open the capped frames. It has a slight smell of gym socks. I kid you not! But honestly, the taste is still sweet and floral but I did struggle a little as the house reeked.
After raking a fork over the wax caps and extracting all of the honey I went to cleaning the wax that was strained from the honey and melting it down into forms. I gifted some of the wax to a local wood crafter who uses it to finish his wine barrel pieces.
After all the honey was extracted into the bucket we let it sit for two weeks to allow all the air bubbles to escape. Not to mention I was a little tapped out to try and bottle it all the same weekend. We have been told by other local beekeepers that the longer you can allow the honey to sit the better so it was a win, win. Luke also wanted to buy a moisture tester to evaluate what quality of honey we were beginning to produce. Our supply and demand are currently at an equilibrium- we have been able to sell all of the honey we produce with little to none left over to keep for ourselves. The honey presale list fills within two days this batch was presold before it even touched bottles. This is promising for Luke and I. We really see the bees and the homestead becoming our full-time jobs in the long run.
Another fall checklist item once the honey was removed from the hives was to treat for mites as well as build a candy board for each hive. We made wood frames with wire mesh bottoms and then mixed the 2:1 sugar water in a bowl. Wax paper was placed over the mesh and the sugar mixture was laid on top to harden. To speed up the process we placed the boards by the wood stove for a few days. This was to ensure all moisture was out of the candy before placing on the hive. It is still a little early to place them on the hives but we wanted to be ready ahead of time. The mite treatment was a fairly easy process as well, Luke put on a respirator and went out with a special heating tool that goes into the entrance of the hive and burns wood bleach (a more affordable and effective treatment). The burned chemical needs to sit for 10-15 minutes before the hive is cleared. We saw almost immediate results of dying and dead mites at the bottom of each treated hive and no honey bees were harmed.
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Mmmm I can taste the mead right now that I’d make with all that honey!
When we have enough honey in excess I would love to give mead a try. Right now we sell out before it is even bottled with local family and friend purchases.
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