Yes I have had my first honey harvest!
The plan was that I would leave them with all of their stores and take what was left over when they started foraging next spring. The welfare of the bees comes before my desire for honey.
However the last inspection revealed a mass of capped honey and so when I did the last inspection of the season today and saw they had even more stores, I treated myself to one bar of capped honey.
I am lucky to have a very calm colony and today as I took the bar and brushed the bees off of the comb, it was the first time that I hear the soft hum of the colony of bees turn into more of a roar.
But even though that happened, they still remained very calm and all I got was a few bumps from flying bees and my ungloved hands got bumped but no stings!
Yep, I have so far got through this season without being stung!
Harvesting honey from a Top Bar hive isn’t the same as from the types of hives that commercial beekeepers use. They uncap the comb and spin the bars but I had to cut up the comb and crush it using a sieve to catch any bits of comb.
I was very surprised as early on in the season a tiny piece of comb broke off, I of course took the opportunity to try the honey and it was very light in colour and light in flavour that was floral.
Now the honey is darker and that is down to what the girls have been foraging on and I used this opportunity to fill two sample tubes with comb and honey to be sent away to the Honey Monitoring Scheme.
What does the Honey Monitoring Scheme do?
With the help of beekeepers we would like to collect honey samples from across the UK and continue to do this for many years. These samples will analysed using advanced DNA barcoding techniques to identify the species of plant pollen present. This will tell us what bees are feeding on in different parts of the country and at different times of year. This information will help us identify possible threats to the floral resources of pollinating insects.
All of the honey samples you send use will be carefully archived to enable future investigations of other threats to bees, including pesticide residues and the presence of certain bee diseases.https://honey-monitoring.ac.uk/about
So I will next year get the data back that will tell me what the bees have been foraging on and can’t wait as it fascinates me!
The honey is now darker and the flavour is stronger and this is a world apart from the honey that we buy from the supermarket.
This reminds of when I would go sea fishing and would be sat on the sea wall eating a Bass that I had caught minutes before. This is the freshest honey I have ever tried and it is raw.
It hasn’t been pasteurised or filtered multiple times to further remove impurities and even air bubbles which creates a clearer honey.
This is straight from the hive with all of the beneficial properties intact, it doesn’t need to be pasteurised because it wont last very long around me.
Out of one bar of comb that was about three quarters of capped honey, I got a jar for myself and half a jar each for my mum, my mother in law and Donna’s step dad and my father in law and his wife.
I have no doubt that there will be left over bars of honey next spring and I will then take some more.
I am so chuffed to have been able to take some honey from the hive.
Getting honey is not the reason I started beekeeping, I am very happy and honoured to be able to get up so close to a colony of bees in my own garden and the honey is a bonus.
The question before I started this season as a beekeeper was ‘Could I manage it as a wheelchair user and also with my health problems?’
The answer is yes it is possible by using a Top Bar hive and it would also be possible using a horizontal hive that uses frames. I have needed help to achieve this and I have been lucky to have the help of our eldest daughter.
I can’t wait for next spring to see what the next season brings!