Wild Flower Honey Harvest
Our first harvest of wild flower honey
Bees forage in a wide area, up to five miles from the hive. So when it comes time to bottle and label your honey it’s difficult to tell what to call it. We know the bees went crazy this spring on the apple and cherry trees then started in on the abundance wild flowers and weeds in the area. So when we bottled our first harvest of honey we decided to call it wild flower honey.
Beekeepers run a gauntlet of issues to get a successful harvest. There are some nasty pests that can raise havoc with bee hives. Varroa mites attach themselves to the back of the bee and feed like ticks and introduce diseases. Then there is the small hive beetle, which also can cause problems with the bees. Add a dose of wax moths, American Foul Brood, and other maladies and you’ll find that beekeeping can be interesting in the least.
Most beekeepers use a variety of chemicals to keep these problems at bay. We practice what is known as Treatment Free beekeeping. It was a decision we made after reading and talking with many other beekeepers. This is not an easy path to walk due to the above problems one can experience in the hives. Thankfully we have not been plagued by any of these issues…yet. We believe nature knows best and will work with Her to keep our bees healthy.
Here are some facts about our honey, wild flower honey or any other we may harvest.
1) Our honey, or should I say the bee’s honey, is filtered only enough to remove all but the finest wax particles, and that’s so minimal as not to see, taste, or feel it.
2) All but the largest pollen grains in the pre-harvest honey are still there. Our strainer is a 400 micron filter. Pollen ranges in size from 50 to 1000 microns depending on the type of flower. This means that most of the pollen is still in the honey. You can’t see a 400 micron pollen particle with the naked eye but it’s there in our honey. This is a good thing.
3) We don’t heat the honey to help it flow better during bottling so all beneficial bacteria and antiseptic properties of the honey are intact. Temperatures above 115 degrees begins to kill beneficial microbes and the honey would loose some of it’s beneficial properties. Heating the honey would be almost the same as Pasteurizing it. We like our beneficial microbes and feel more people should like them also.
4) The bees are kept treatment free. This means we use no chemicals to treat for varroa mites and small hive beetles, which we have seen extremely little evidence of in two years. We do not use fumigants to move the bees off the honey frames. Instead we remove the frames and shake them off. Yes, we get stung a few times in the process.
5) We don’t “crush and strain” the honey comb, we use an extractor. Crush and strain destroys the comb and the bees need to totally rebuild it using valuable resources better left for the survival of the hive. Our method spins the honey from the frame using centrifugal force leaving the comb largely intact. We put the frames back into the hive and the bees clean it up and use it again with very little effort. It’s almost as if they opened the comb themselves. We believe it’s best not to stress the bees.
Finally, this honey is as close as one would get if one were to take honey from a wild hive. Any bee colony in the woods or fields around our apiary would be foraging on exactly the same sources our bees forage on. Our honey is as natural as honey from the wild.
How do you enjoy your honey?