Fall is upon us! Though the bees are slowing down, I’m already plotting and scheming for Spring 2014. We have equipment that needs painting, frames that need foundation, and still awaiting a half dozen or so more colonies that we’re obtaining soon. This will put our apiary at or above 30 colonies for this Winter.
If we don’t have too many Winter losses and start more colonies in the Spring, we will be managing over 4 times as many hives as we did this past Fall. That’s a big difference! I want to be ready to make the most of next season. I want 2014 to be bigger and better, in hopes that we will actually have enough honey to meet our demand and have some to sell throughout the year.
Part of my preparation for Spring 2014 is that I’m currently reading a book called Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: From Passion to Profits, by Grant F.C. Gillard. The book is the 2nd title I own from this author, and was a gift from a friend. It is, in my opinion, one of the most helpful books on beekeeping in my small library thus far.
What I like about it is that’s not written as a bland how-to manual. In it Grant shares with you his experience growing his apiary. You read of his highs and lows and ups and downs. He shared mistakes he’s made and points out things you need to consider when growing from a hobbyist to a side-line beekeeper. It’s rather “pastoral,” which makes sense because the writer’s vocation is pastoral ministry.
At 472 pages, there’s quite a bit of information to digest. I’m nearing the half way point now. By now, it’s almost as if Mr. Gillard is a 2nd mentor to me. I’m very happy that he’s taken the time to write this and I heartily commend it to all beekeepers who desire to grow their apiaries to the size of 25 colonies or more.
I’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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Because our honey is raw and unfiltered, it will not be as clear as commercially produced honey sold in most grocery stores.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 pulled 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.