Honey Bees

Starter Hives: Peaches and Cream

Both hives were set up and bees installed from nucs on 5/1/2010.  As of 10/1/10, the peach hive is on its third queen and recovering from a midsummer swarming episode.  Obviously, I’ve got a lot to learn about beekeeping.  According to my Bee Mentor, Bobby, I’ll be feeding the ladies all fall and winter and onwards until the first nectar flow of 2011.  Still, of all my livestock, the bees are the least expensive to start and maintain.  And when I actually make the time to do it, they are relatively easy to care for. (If I don’t count the time I really pissed them off and got stung 20 times in one outing.  I’m sure I had it coming.)

November 2011 Update

Like everything else on the farm, the bees are a work in process on a steep learning curve.  Each time I visit my hives I learn something new.  I am not a great beekeeper.  I wouldn’t even call myself a good one.  But I continue to learn and in May and June of 2011 I had my first honey harvest.  I pulled about 60 pounds of honey from two hives.  It wasn’t a great harvest considering this was the best year for honey in over a decade.  But it was my harvest and I am very proud of it.

2011 Apriori honey is light colored and comes primarily from spring clover with a bit of honey locust.  I do filter my honey to remove dirt and bee parts.  Beyond that, I give my honey no other treatment.  It is not pasteurized, homogenized, sanitized or adulterated with corn syrup.  It is simply honey as the bees made it right here in Deatonville, Virginia. We think it’s the best honey around.

Many have asked me how to store honey after containers have been opened.  The answer is keep a moisture proof lid on it and store it where you are most likely to use it.  Honey does not require refrigeration.  It will draw moisture from the air and may ferment, hence the moisture proof lid.  If exposed to temperatures above 98 degrees it will begin to deteriorate. Raw honey is also more prone to crystallizing than processed honey.  If this happens to you, simply place your honey pot in a dish of warm water.  Otherwise, consider honey a window to the everlasting.  Perfectly edible honey has been pulled from 3000 year old tombs in Egypt!

Honey is a largely sterile medium because of its low water content, high sugar content and low Ph.  It will not foster bacterial growth.  Before modern antibiotics, honey was often used to treat wounds and preserve the dead because of its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  Honey may or may not contain dormant spores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.  This bacteria can be fatal to infants and you should not give honey to children under 1 year of age.