In truth it is not just the fall honey harvest, but the only honey harvest of the year. Because we already are stealing our honeybee’s hard work, we try to minimize our impact somewhat by harvesting around August/September and unless the bees make an excess of honey between now and when it starts to dip into the 40’s and 50’s then we leave the rest for them.
Bees need honey to get through the winter, but many beekeepers, small hobby beekeepers and most large scale beekeepers, will take as much honey as possible and then supplement the bees through the cooler months with sugar water. Here’s the problem with sugar water – well, it’s not honey. Most sugar water mixes are coming from cane sugar or corn sugar bases – when bees have nothing to do with either corn or sugar cane in the natural world. Sugar cane doesn’t flower and corn is not pollinated by bees, so it’s the most artificial way to sustain bees, especially considering the bees just worked all year long to make the healthiest food for themselves.
Be kind to the bees, leave them food for the winter.
Our harvest was not as large as last year, we believe mostly because we added a second brood box and so the bees spent a great deal of time filling up that brood box. We stopped using foundation in our hives after our very first harvest and some research about how foundation is made – leftover beeswax full of who knows what chemicals – not to mention the pesky wires that hold it in. Last season we put popsicle sticks in where the foundation would be to provide a guide at the top of the frames and the bees followed them wonderfully. This year, though, the bees clearly just did not care. Check out the way they built out their comb!
Entirely the opposite direction. In fact, so precisely in the wrong direction I think the bees might have actually been mocking us.
The form of honeycomb is just amazing to me.
Entirely perpendicular to their “guide lines.” Jerks. Then again, we stole their food.
Despite their funky lines, it’s great, clean comb and just made for a slightly messier harvest, cutting through the combs and then proceeding to our usual mash and drain harvest method that includes a lot of sticky mess to clean up after the fact. Nate did the math and figured that we got about 2.35 gallons compared to our 5.5-ish last year. We intend to split the hive into two though this coming Spring and hopefully we’ll get more next Fall, but we shall see. Most of the honey has already been purchased – in fact was purchased before it even came out of the hive – but we have a few jars that aren’t bought if anyone is interested. Our price is $1 per ounce, and all we have for sale right now are 8 oz. jars – so send us a message if you’re interested. They don’t tent to last long, and given the shortage this year, I expect the few we have will go especially quick. Cheers!
Pollen swirls in the honey! Like the milky way!