Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spring Honey- Better than Ever

-Posted by Isaac

It's spring honey time!

But, you say, this stuff is cloudy... and it's got wax particles floating around.
I'll explain later.

We've been busy. Really busy. The last week has been a hot blur of honey.
All because, this spring, the bees got really busy also.

The supers are full! Well, not entirely, but most hives have at least a single medium super caked out with honey.
Full of delicious, gorgeous, awesome spring honey.

Ha. And just a few weeks ago I mentioned to Jayne that I thought it was going to be a good one. A big harvest. Always the optimist, she said, "Don't count your chickens."

Well lookie here...

Besides, Honey, I covered chickens in that last post.

We've moved on to honey.
Spring Honey. My favorite!

I explain it a thousand times every Saturday. Spring honey is awesome. Light, delicate, translucent.. and most years, not a lot of it. In fact, more years than not, we're sold out of spring honey before the next harvest rolls around. I guess that can be a good thing. A supply and demand issue. We charge more for it. We keep it for you market customers almost exclusively. Away from the strangling grasp of Whole Foods and Giant Eagle. There's just not enough of it.

Here's why:
Early in the bee year, we're making splits. Throughout much of the spring. Splitting the hives is hugely beneficial in many ways. We increase our hive count with new, young queens. We make up for winter loss. We prevent swarming. We go into apple pollination with smaller, easier to handle hives. We sell nucs.
Much good comes from splitting. But usually one thing we miss out on is a big crop of spring honey. The honeysuckle and locust bloom in May and most years the bees are still building up for summer. We'll pull a few frames of this beautiful honey but that's about all.

Not this year. Conditions were right. The bees were strong. And so was the honey flow!

About a week ago I finally decided it was time go get to work.

Baby says what have you been waiting for?

I hit it on Monday and we've had five great (hot!) days of pulling honey.

Well Baby, one thing I was waiting for was an extractor.

Some of you know we're upgrading. I bought a big commercial extractor some months ago. One small problem: it's in Oregon.
I had a deal with the guy to pick it up in South Dakota when he moves his bees to their summer home. This was supposed to happen in the early spring.
Well, typical commercial beekeeper, communication was extremely lacking. (And I can't claim my own communication skills are much better...)
It's still in Oregon.
And we're ready to extract. What to do, what to do?

Construction on the honey house addition came to a halt. We set up a temporary extraction system using a mishmash of old equipment.

For the last week it's worked just fine, albeit slow.

Kind of funny to look at... such a small setup in this cavernous space.

But it gets the job done.

Using most every handsome daylight hour, I've been able to get through about half the hives this week.
Most are loaded with a least one heavy super.

Some of the honey needs dried.

Most doesn't. Capped and gorgeous.
Just delightful.

Magnificent stuff.

And the buckets are filling. People call this a "bucket brigade." I've always stored the spring honey in buckets because there has never been enough to mess with barrels. This year I'm rethinking that.
We're only half done!

Magnificent stuff.

Did I say that already?

Oh, so that cloudy honey at the top of this page...
That happens to be the first bottle, filled right out of the extractor. I thought we would give it to some lucky market customer.
Jayne always likes a giveaway, so here's my attempt. First person to approach me (or Maggie) at the North Market. Save yourself $8 and mention you saw this little ad on the blog. It's yours for the taking!

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