The Raw Truth about our Honey

24 oz honeyI’m happy to announce that on June 17th,  we harvested and extracted 300 lbs. of honey from a handful of our mature, productive hives! Though only a small amount of honey when compared to large commercial operations, we count this harvest as a great blessing when compared to last year.

At this time, we’re getting ready to make labels and to start bottling. We will start having honey for shipping after we receive our flat rate and regional rate boxes from USPS.

Before we start selling or shipping, I want to let everyone know some important facts about our honey and why it’s different -and much better for you- than the honey sold in most grocery stores:

  1. Our honey is RAW. It’s neither heated, nor pasteurized. Thus, our honey retains all of its pro-biotic properties, natural vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.
  2. Our honey is strained, but not filtered. We have to strain the honey to get out bits of wax, propolis, and the occasional bee who made her into our 9 frame radial extractor, but we don’t do anything that will remove the beneficial pollen that is in the honey. Honey bought at the grocery store normally has all the pollen filtered out so it is crystal clear and won’t crystallize over time.  It’s also done at times to hide the fact it’s illegally sourced honey of Chinese origin smuggled in via other countries.
  3. Because our honey is raw and unfiltered, it will not be as clear as commercially produced honey sold in most grocery stores.
  4. We only use pesticide-free treatments for hive pests and we do not medicate the bees with antibiotics or other chemical medications. When we do supplement the bees in the off-season, it’s with a feeding stimulant made with essential oils in order to boost their overall health.
  5. We do not feed our bees any sugar or corn syrup during the nectar flow as some beekeepers do. Any hives that are weak and require supplemental feedings during the nectar flow are not harvested during the season. We want the honey we harvest to be 100% floral in nature and collected by our bees from natural sources.
  6. Our honey is properly called “wildflower honey,” but the nectar our bees use to make it come from a variety of flowering trees: including tupelo, poplar, and wild persimmons. They also gather nectar from wild grapes, blackberries, and everything else that flowers around the Ohoopee River and Jack’s Creek here in eastern Emanuel County, GA.

We hope this give you a better idea of what you are getting when you choose to buy our raw honey. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask using the contact form below.

For more on the benefits of RAW HONEY, click here to read and article about it at Natural News.

For more on what’s missing from regular grocery store honey, read about it on Food Safety News.

Honey forecast looking good so far!

Over the weekend I popped the tops off of a few hives to see how much honey we have. One of our best hives has 3 full, capped 9 frame medium supers of honey with 2 more supers above the bottom brood box that has a mix of honey and brood. (We’re not running queen excluders this year, so brood is up higher this year.).

Best I can tell, we’re looking at around 8-10 full medium supers of honey between all of our mature colonies. This is about 3 times the amount of honey we Imagepulled off the hives all last year.

The nectar flow is still going here. One way you can tell is that the bees in the weaker hives I’m feeding are hardly taking any sugar syrup now. Bees prefer real nectar over the stuff I feed them. When real nectar is scarce during the Summer dearth, they’ll drink up the sugar syrup like crazy and even go after things like old Coke cans or anything with a sweet residue on it.

The wild persimmons are starting to bloom. I always look forward to this because the bees love it and I love to hear the soft buzz of the bees working the persimmon trees at my grandfathers house when I stop over for a visit.

So far, things are really looking up.


We’re Still Swarming

I don’t know how much honey we’ll make this season, but I know we’re making new colonies left and right. Seems like my hives are issuing swarms everyday. I don’t know about other beekeepers, but other than rotating the hive bodies, I don’t really do too much to try and prevent swarming. I’ve read that swarming reduces the honey harvest, but I just don’t have time to be going through every hive removing swarm cells all the time.

We’re now up to 13 ten-frame hives and 1 five frame nuc. After we harvest honey, I plan to make some Summer splits as Kim Flottum recommends in his book Better Beekeeping. I figure we could have well over 20 hives for 2014 if the splits make it through Winter.

On a separate note, the Ogeechee Area Beekeeper’s Association will be meeting again on May 30 at the Botanical Gardens at Georgia Southern University. Our guest speaker will be Clay “Bear” Kelley who serves at the Vice President of the Georgia Beekeeper’s Association.

Follow us on Facebook for regular updates of what’s going on!

Catching Swarms while Supers are Filling

The title of this post pretty much describes what all has been going on since my last post. So far I’ve caught 5 swarms and the hives are getting heavier as the bees are collecting nectar. Only one of the swarms I’ve caught was actually hanging from a limb, so the bee vac I built last year is seeing lots of use.

The craziest swarm capture we did so far was a small cluster that landed on top of a service truck of Pineland Telephone in Metter.

As always, if you live near Metter, GA and have a swarm that needs to be removed. Let us know and either myself or another beekeeper I know will be happy to help.

2013 Season Begins!

Yesterday evening I was grilling some chicken wings when something caught my eye in the oak tree above me. It was a large swarm that issued from a colony in my backyard.

I sprang into action, backing my truck under the tree so I could reach the limb with the clippers. During the process of trimming some limbs around the swarm, a small wad of clustered bees fell onto my unprotected left wrist and hand. Naturally, several of the excited bees plunged their stingers into my wrist.

It hurt, but because I was so focused on getting the swarm, I just allowed those stingers to continue to inject venom as I got ready to cut the final supporting limb. After I cut the limb, the main mass of the swarm landed in the hive awaiting them below. It was a successful capture.

What I didn’t expect was my body’s reaction to the comparatively large amount of venom I received from these stings! Instead of the localized pain and swelling, I started having a systemic reaction. I began to itch all over, I developed hives all over, and I began to have a sense of panic. I took Benadryl at the instruction of my wife and my brother-in-law (a paramedic) told me to increase the dose to 100mg. A short time later I was much improved, though very drowsy.

The only thing I can think of is that whereas I normally scrape off a bee stinger almost as quickly as I am stung, in this case I received a full dose of venom from several bees and my immune system reacted (or overreacted) accordingly. I just hope this was a unique incident and not signs of worse reactions to come.

I guess the 2013 season is now underway. I’ve been looking forward to this year as we have 11 hives now in their 2nd or 3rd seasons. We’re really looking forward to the harvest this year.

Bee Removal @ Fivebraids Custom Woodworking Inc.

Here are some photos of a removal we did last week at Fivebraids Custom Woodworking in Metter, GA.. This colony was established several weeks ago when a swarm took up under the back of the workshop.

Photo credit: Denise Walsh

Swarm Capture at Lowe’s in Vidalia

Today we got a call about a large swarm hanging from a tree in the parking lot of Lowe’s in Vidalia, GA. My son Cordell and I hurried down to Vidalia to catch the swarm.

When we arrived, it was the perfect situation: Large swarm and hanging low to the ground. While Cordell snapped some photos, I sprayed the swarm with sugar water and shook them off into a couple of medium hive bodies below. I am guessing there were 6 to 8 lbs of bees in this swarm.

After we captured the swarm, talked about bees with Lowe’s associates and management, and came on back to the farm. We really appreciate Orkin of Vidalia for the referral and the folks at Lowe’s for allowing us to capture the bees.

The bees are now safe and sound here at the Kelley Honeybee Farm and we look forward to seeing the hive get established and start producing honey.

We are happy to capture swarms within reasonable driving distance of our apiary. If you have a bee problem or find a swarm, give us a call at 912-682-3806. We would be happy to try and relocate the bees.

Kelley Mutt Queens!

While we’ve had colonies raise their own queens after a swarm, the queens in these pictures are the first “mutt queens” we’ve reared that will be placed in nucs for requeening hives later this year.

We certainly aren’t expert queen producers, but I have a plan to try and produce a line of queens that will be genetically diverse, as well as productive, gentle, and resistant to mites and disease.

At this time we won’t be offering any of our queens for sale, but after we have gained some experience and developed a line of mutt queens with desirable traits, we might begin selling our extras.