How sweet it is . . . the honey harvest!
It is one of those annual fall surprises - what will our honey taste like this year? Three years ago, it tasted sweet yet not overly floral or cloyingly sweet like clover honey. Everyone loved it and we should have entered it into a contest. I suspect that the fantastic taste was due to the Joe Pie Weed field the bees spent so much time in that summer. Last year, our honey tasted just like maple syrup. Could it have been the potato blossoms just outside their front door? Who knows.
This year's honey is a perfect balance of sweetness, flowers and hmmm . . . vegetables? I don't know, but it is good! It's a small harvest (approx. 25 lbs) but many hobby beekeepers didn't get any this year. We feel fortunate to have the little honey we do because of all the rain, diseases, and the fact that the hive swarmed in May and had to rebuild its population over the summer.
After we spun the honey out with the extractor, we set it outside so the bees could do the final cleanup. I wish they did windows! By the end of the day, the equipment was spotless.
We hope to add another hive or two next year so we can compare them and become more proficient in beekeeping. As one veteran beekeeper told me, "It's not how long you've kept bees, it's how many hives you have that makes you experienced."
The USDA (for what they're worth) considers bees as livestock. This strikes me as so funny because I imagine miniature corrals, fencing, trailers and such. Bees are, by far, the easiest "livestock" to care for considering time, initial investment and ongoing expenses. If you don't mind the occasional sting and aren't unnerved by the buzzing, it's a fascinating hobby that doesn't require a lot of land. In fact, it doesn't require any land. Some city dwellers keep bees on their roof decks and they don't have to worry about bears like we do.
Here's a link to a local bee supply company. We took a bee class from the owner, Rick Reault, through the Middlesex Beekeepers Association. These classes are very inexpensive and are a great way to learn about all the aspects of beekeeping. You will also meet experienced beekeepers who are usually very friendly and willing to mentor new beekeepers.
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Posted by Mary Ellen at October 19, 2008 6:30 AM