Category Archives: honey

Buyer Beware

This article from Food Safety News have been making the rounds over the past few days, and has some concerning information for folks buying honey. Nearly 75% of honey sold in stores have been heated and filtered to a point where all the pollen has been removed. In fact, if the bottle says it has been ultra-filtered, the USDA doesn’t even consider it to be honey anymore.

Pollen in honey is like a human fingerprint. It allows analysis to determine the region where the honey was produced which is an important tool used to help stop the import of foreign honey produced using questionable practices.

So make friends with your friendly neighborhood beekeeper or buy locally produced honey at a farmer’s market. What you’ll be tasting is a honey unique to your city or town.

2 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, education, honey

Fall Blooms

Knives’ hive has really been packing it away for winter. She now has two 8-frame supers full of the stuff and has started working on the third.

I had a really hard time getting the top most super off during this morning’s inspection. Not only does it weigh 50+ pounds, but the girls had also built a lot of comb filled with honey in between the two honey supers.

After a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center last weekend, I thought I would collect as many photos as I could of bees collecting nectar and pollen.

Antique roses are a great source of pollen. Here is a Perle D’Or Rose:

This is a Louis Phillipe antique rose with a hoverfly:

Rock Rose isn’t a true rose, but it is in full bloom right now.

Prostrate Rosemary grows like a weed in Austin, and has very small blue blooms:

Fall Aster, crazily enough, blooms in the fall and the bees love it:

Kidney Wood is a native tree and the blooms actually smell like honey. I can see why the bees love it.

Even the hoverflies are getting in on the action.

The great thing about Central Texas is the prolific number of trees and flowers that bloom in the fall. Even after a terrible summer of drought, the number of fall blooms available gives the bees a chance to catch up and get ready for the winter.

3 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, honey, pollination

Tale of Two Honeys

My wife and I spent a lovely few days in Albuquerque, NM last week where we had the pleasure of meeting Chantal Foster and her husband Alex for dinner. Chantal is a local beekeeper in the Duke City, and her blog is chock full of good information, and is one I used extensively when I first started out.

In addition to talking shop, we exchanged honey from our hives. Now that we are back in Austin, Gitanjali and I decided to make a lunch of delicious meats, cheeses, and fruit paired with honey.

Tale of Two Honeys

Just from the picture alone, you can see the two honeys are very different in color. Chantal’s honey is also much thicker than ours most likely due to the arid climate in New Mexico. We feel her honey has a more fruity and floral taste, and we even get a hint of pineapple in the finish. It paired very nicely with a La Tur from Alta Langa, Italy.

Our honey on the other hand has a bolder deeper flavor that paired well with blue cheese particularly a Rogue River Blue from Rogue Creamery in Oregon.

Both honeys are completely different in taste which just goes to show how the local environment and native flora influence the final product. We had a great time in Albuquerque and were happy to bring a taste of New Mexico back to Texas with us.

2 Comments

Filed under honey

Blueberry Corn Pancakes

In my mind, nothing goes better with honey than corn bread, but to me this isn’t a very breakfasty type food. Luckily, I found this recipe for delicious blueberry cornmeal pancakes.

Recipe:
Combine 1 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine 2 TBS honey, 2 TBS oil, 2 cups buttermilk, and 1 egg. Stir well and then quickly mix into the dry ingredients. Let stand for 10 minutes to soften the cornmeal. Preheat griddle or large heavy skillet. Lightly grease the hot griddle and pour on the batter about 1/4 cup per pancake. Then sprinkle the top with blueberries and cook until the tops are bubbly. Turn and cook into golden on the other side. Cover with honey and put them in your craw!

Blueberry Corn Pancakes

1 Comment

Filed under food, honey

Worker Bee Honey Label

So I finally got my labels printed for my honey jars. I ordered 1000 of these suckers mainly because the difference between 250 and 1000 is like 20 bucks.

Worker Bee Honey Jar

Thanks again to Essi Zimm for the awesome label and t-shirt design.

6 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, honey

Honey Harvest and Scotch Dinner

Even with this drought, Marge’s hive has still been managing to pack on the honey. One of the advantages of having a hive in an urban setting is that people have a variety of flowers in their gardens and often have watering systems to keep them blooming. Still, with no rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future, this will be the last time I take any honey off until at least the late fall, and only if we see a considerable nectar flow sometime between now and then.

This being my fourth harvest, I think I’m finally getting it down to a science. The bee escape is the best invention ever and even with this hot weather, it is still very effective with only a few bees left in the honey super. Here are some shots of the frames of honey.

Honey Frame

Honey Frame

I’m still using the crush and strain method for extraction. One of these days I’ll get an extractor, but for now this works well and I do get a lot of beeswax for other projects.

Harvesting Honey

While we were waiting for the honey to settle through all the filters, we had a wonderful dinner and scotch tasting at Brenna’s house where we keep the hives.

Honey and Scotch Dinner

We pulled right around 25 pounds off this 8 frame super, and it is the same color and consistency of our previous honey harvest.

1 Comment

Filed under beekeeping, honey

BeeSweet Lemonade

A friend of mine sent me this article from the the Westlake Picayune. Mikala Ulmer, a first-grader at Trinity Episcopal School in West Lake Hills, will be selling her special, award-winning lemonade Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at a stand on the corner of Sixth Street and Lamar Boulevard.

Mikaila will donate 20 percent of the profits from her lemonade sales that day to the Texas Beekeeper’s Association to help save the honey bees. I’m going to try my best to get downtown to buy a cup.

1 Comment

Filed under Fun, honey

Large Marge takes her honey dark…like her men.

I pulled 8 full frames of honey off the hive today. The bee escape worked great, and there were only a handful of girls left in the super that were easily removed. I still don’t have an extractor so I harvested the honey using the crush and strain method. One of these days I would like to get a small extractor, but right now this method isn’t too time consuming plus I like the added benefit of having beeswax for projects.

Overall, I pulled off just shy of 25 pounds of honey which was very dark compared to last year’s fall harvest which in turn was darker than the initial 2010 spring harvest. I think I’m going to break down and send a sample off for pollen analysis because I’m very curious about the pollen counts. Here is a side by side shot of last year’s fall honey on the left and the recent harvest on the right.

2011 First Honey Harvest

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I reveal the not so sweet side of honey harvesting.

2 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, honey

Pre-Honey Harvest Prep

I’ll be taking a full super of honey off the hive Sunday, so I went out today to put the bee escape on the hive to make tomorrow’s activities much easier. I did my first and last harvest last fall without using a bee escape, and I’ll never do it again. It took forever to get all the bees off the frames, and I ended up with a yard full of pissed off bees.

Another advantage of the harvest is reducing the size of the hive to a more manageable level. Right now, I’m resorting to a step stool to get the height I need to inspect the top most supers.

Tall Hive, Little Man

2 Comments

Filed under beekeeping, honey