While I have yet to receive the formal report, I did get an e-mail from Dr. Vaughn Bryant confirming my suspicion that the thick woody smelling honey I pulled off two of my hives was in fact honeydew honey.
Here is the text from his e-mail:
I did complete the pollen study. It does not contain any pollen but it does contain lots of honeydew elements and thus, it is what you suspected….a honeydew sample. I was going to take some pictures of the fungal spores in the honeydew and send them to you. However, I was at West Point Military Academy lecturing last week and just returned.
I’ll post a follow up when I get the official results, but it is at least nice to know the girls aren’t dumpster diving for food.
I’ve bad been about updating since our return from Seattle, so a synopsis post is in order.
We did another honey harvest this past weekend with a super from Sunshine Community Gardens and a super from Rue in Baab-Brock Farms. I was pleased to see that the Sunshine honey was just that. Nothing weird about it although the light floral honey from early spring has now given way to the darker late summer honey.
Rue had 4 frames of good honey and 4 frames of the mystery honey. I finally got to the post office and mailed off a sample to A&M for analysis today so perhaps an answer is just a week or two away.
I am also planning on requeening Rue this weekend. This hive has gotten aggressive as of late, and one of the neighbors got stung (on her birthday no less). I don’t want another Large Marge experience so I’m taking the steps now to try and nip this problem in the bud. I’m anticipating a fun Saturday trying to find the old queen.
I was super excited to pull 8 frames of honey off my hive at the Sunshine Community Gardens on Sunday. I had high hopes for some delicious honey produced in a pesticide free environment teeming with flowers and vegetables. What I got instead was a super thick almost goo like substance that has a sweet taste but doesn’t smell like honey.
After almost 36 hours, it is still sitting in the first 5 gallon filtering bucket laughing at gravity.
The “honey” that actually made it through the first coarse filter is barely even going through the nylon strainer bag. I brought it to the Austin Urban Beekeeping Meetup Group this evening and the general consensus is that it is dumpster honey.
For those unfamiliar with this particular variety of honey, it is when your girls decide to ignore all the beautiful flowering plants around town, and go straight to a dumpster of a restaurant or other business where high fructose corn syrup is plentiful. You may recall the Brooklyn hive whose honey turned red after hitting up the local maraschino cherry factory.
So this batch of honey is going in the garbage. I plan on sending a sample to A&M to do an analysis just try and get some clue on what happened, but it certainly not how I wanted my inaugural harvest from the gardens to turn out.
Here is the menu for this Saturday’s breakfast and lunch at the Dai Due booth.
Kimchi Hot Dog with mayonnaise.
Shrimp and Grits with a fried egg.
Chicharrones in Tomatillo Sauce Taco with cortido.
Braised Lamb with Peppers on garlic naan bread with 200 yr. yogurt and Kuri squash chutney.
Wheat Crepes with pears, goat cheese and Worker Bee honey.
Cactus Fruit and Lime Agua Fresca.
Iced Cafe a la Olla. Boiled Mexican coffee with sorghum syrup, brown sugar, anise seed and cinnamon, served over ice.
I recommend getting there early if you want any of these items. I missed out on the fried rabbit with Worker Bee honey last weekend as it sold out super quick.
I’m convinced that Baab-Brock farms is ideally situated for creating massive honey producing machines. Even during the drought last year, the two hives I had were able to gather enough honey for their own winter stores.
I always tell folks not to expect honey their first year as a beekeeper as a general rule of thumb. Rue has decided to break all those rules and pack away honey like it is going out of style. She has seriously filled up three supers worth of the stuff.
Here’s a frame of honey.
Oh look, here is another one.
Not to be outdone, Knives 2.0 has refilled her honey super that I harvested less than 3 weeks ago.
I’m planning on a massive honey harvest this upcoming weekend because these hives are about to be taller than I am. Rue is already at 6 supers, and I’ll need a ladder soon if she keeps on growing. I can’t believe this hive started in April.
After our visit with Matt Moore earlier in the week, we stopped by Nani Moon Mead today and met with owner Stephanie Krieger for a 5 flight mead tasting.
Stephanie produces small batches of mead using honey and fruit produced on Kauai and the other islands of Hawaii. Matt Moore is one of her suppliers of honey which made the visit to Nani Moon a nice bookend to our beekeeping adventure on Kauai.
After the tasting, we decided to go with the Winter Sun which is made with Kauai wildflower honey, starfruit, and passionfruit. Here is a picture of the mead with a bottle of Matt’s BeeWise Honey.
Here is a video of Stephanie talking about her mead and all five varieties she produces.
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.
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.
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.
Now that we have quite a bit of honey stored up for the winter, we needed a practical dispenser for every day use. My brother gave me a really beautiful sterling silver honey jar shaped like a beehive, but it doesn’t hold a lot of honey, and it is really too nice for just everyday use in the kitchen.
My wife did some research on the interwebs, and found this article about various dispensers. She ended up getting me the WFM Satin Steel and Glass Honey Dispenser as a Christmas gift. Not only does it have a nice streamlined design, we have already put it to the test, and it passed with flying colors. It didn’t drip at all after pouring and holds about 1 cup of honey.