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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Lesson #11: Honey From Your Own Beehive Is the Best Honey in the World

Last week we took a sample of honey from a frame. We opened the hive and scraped a 4 or 5 inch chunk of capped honey from the honey super in hive #1-aka the good hive. As you can see from the pictures its a very pale yellow. Not the typical gold color of honey you get at the grocery store. Greg and I shared the sample with my parents and the consensus was that it was delicious honey. It was sweet, a little flowery-just like honey is supposed to taste. My dad (shown in the pic) really liked it. He took one bite and immediately took off in the house saying he needed to make some toast to go with it. Even though we all together agreed that it was damn good honey, I secretly believe it might be the best honey I've ever tasted. Most likely my pride is influencing my taste buds but Wikipedia says that the paler yellow honey is considered "supreme" quality-yea!

So now that I know that our bees are expert honey makers, my expectations keep getting higher and higher. I bought a special honey straining bucket( its on its way via ups) so that we can strain all the honey from the comb we scrape off the frames. I also keep wanting to buy cases of jars to fill with our buckets and buckets of honey we collect later this summer. I have recycled lib balm tubes and organic sweet almond oil also on the way so that I can make my own lip balm from the wax. I might be getting a little ahead of myself but its fun. We really don't know how much honey we will end up with. Its still the first year and we still have to leave a good chunk of honey in the hive for the bees to eat over winter. Its really their honey after all and they don't intentionally make extra for people to steal. We will have to be conservative as far as how much we harvest this year. Better safe than sorry. I don't think there will be enough to sell but plenty to give as gifts to family members and friends.

As of right now the hives are in pretty good shape. Hive #1 (the good hive) is slowly but surely filling up the honey super we put on a month or so ago. I would love to have to put another one on before the end of the season. Last week Greg put the first honey super on #2 (the bad hive) which has now moved to good hive status. The bees are still angrier, louder, and still more agressive but there are a lot more bees and they are finally starting to store surplus honey. It still amazes me that both hives are Italian bees, they are 50 feet apart from each other, yet their personalities are so different. Maybe the second hive has been crossed with africanized bees. The first hive always seems so calm and quiet when we open the hive. The second always gets pissed and bunches of them end up flying around our heads looking to sting us in the eyeballs I'm sure. We are 3 months in, both hives are doing what they are supposed to be doing, no infestations of mites, mothes or beetles, no chemical treatments, no storm damage, no more rogue queens. We're finally getting the hang of it and really the work left to do is harves honey later this summer or early fall.

I am already planning on adding hives next year. Maybe two or three. I want to put one at my Grandparents. My Grandfather is in his late 80s and still has a massive garden every year. He had a few beehives in the olden days and although he wouldn't be able to manage a hive himself at his age, he said he'd like to have one to help pollenate the garden. I think he would enjoy just going out and watching them every now and then. And he LOVES honey. I took him some of the sample honey to try. I figured as much he loves the stuff, he would be the one to tell me if it tasted off. Like most old people, he is not afraid to be honest either. I gave him a jelly jar about half full with a few chunks of comb. See the big jar in the picture. I assumed he would take a spoonfull and let me know. He had the jar cleaned out, comb and all, in less than five minutes.