Fresh Beekeeper Honey ? Tasting Is Believing
If you have ever gone to a farmers market and gotten honey from one of the vendors, you have had homemade beekeeper honey; and you know it’s above and beyond the mass-produced grocery store honey. Why would that be? Aren’t the two produced in exactly the same way? Well, yes and no. The honey that you get from the store has had preservatives added to it, and gone through a massive assembly line that collects honey from huge bee farms that do nothing but make honey all day long. The local honey is made from the local crops, and is by definition unique to the area where the bees collected it. That is why it’s so different, and quite often better than mass produced honey.
The great thing about beekeeper honey is that it is very possible to start making your own. Beekeeping is a great hobby that can provide a lot of satisfaction to the beekeeper and of course give the keeper a lot of tasty honey for their efforts. There is quite a bit of risk involved in keeping bees, but the rewards are plentiful.
It used to be that people would have to go hiking through the forest in search of naturally occurring beehives to get the honey that they wanted. Most of the time they would follow bears that could sniff out the honey much more easily that the people could. This was a time-consuming process, and could be quite dangerous as they risked dealing with an angry bear whose honey had just been stolen. Eventually people realized they could build artificial hives that could be in a much more convenient place and they wouldn’t have to deal with the bears.
The necessary beekeeping equipment should be acquired prior to starting you beehive. You should never approach your beehive without the appropriate beekeeping suit and hat. A smoker is another necessity as it is used to calm he bees down enough to allow you to do your work. Too much smoke however, and the bees might think their hive is on fire and decide that they need to find a new home. Wait a few moments to let the smoke take effect before you try to remove the comb boards. You may want to use an escape board to assist with this process, but it isn’t required.
Now that the bees are gone, take a close look at the hive. If there is a waxy layer on top of all of the combs then the honey is ready to collect, as this is a sign the combs are full. These wax coverings are called cappings and are put in place by the bees to help preserve the honey for later consumption; they just didn’t realize it would be you doing the consuming.
To get the honey out of the combs you need to use a piece of equipment known as an extractor. You load the comb boards into the extractor that then spins around to get all of the honey out of the combs as quickly as possible while causing minimal damage.
Once the honey has been removed from the combs you need to filter it to remove the larger pieces of debris from the honey like pieces of bee wax that came off during the extraction process. You can use cheesecloth as a strainer; this will give you the best results. After the honey has been filtered it needs to sit for a few days in order to let all the bubbles come to the top where they can be skimmed off. The honey is now ready to be poured into jars and labeled. Finally, try to keep the honey out of direct sunlight. Exposure to the sun will cause the honey to spoil.
Chris Shireman is a beekeeping expert. For more information on making beekeeper honey, visit http://www.beekeepinginfocenter.com