My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

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rockfarmer
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My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:13 pm

I have been a piddling beekeeper for 6-7 years now with just one Langstroth hive. It provides more honey than my family and I and a few close friends can consume each year, and varies only slightly with the amount of rainfall received. The honey produced by our bees is extraordinary in taste, color and consistency. The fall honey that is.

I have only pulled one spring excess, 2012, following a wet spring. It was light in color, and really, really sweet. Similar to what you find in the grocery store's.

However, the fall honey is a different story. Our fall honey is always dark, like maple syrup, with a hint of mint or spiciness. The first year I pulled it, I thought I over smoked the hive and ruined the honey. Gave it all away. Then after hearing all the accolades, decided to keep next years harvest and limit the gifts. Same feedback, "best honey we ever tasted...may we have some more?" Now, stingy stingy!

According the the honey flow calendar in central Texas, broom weed and horse mint are the major contributors of nectar during the late summer and early fall (yes, wildflowers are still blooming in November down here). I see both plants around in abundance, horse mint is a small purple flowering grass/weed grows everywhere. Broom weed is almost like kudzu in the southeast, farmers hate it and you cant hardly kill it. I'm glad they don't kill the broom weed because I think it makes some of the best honey in the world.

This was one of 9 frames pulled on Thanksgiving day, last year.

Honey Fall 2016.jpg


Thinking about putting in another hive this spring to see if we can double our bounty, but we do not want to disrupt our current feed stock's quality.

Any beekeepers out there gone thru the same delema?

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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Eugene » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:42 pm

In this part of the Ozarks, folks sell honey at the farmer's market and annual "food fests".

Guess it depends on the amount of excess honey and the labeling and bottling expense, and time at the farmer's market.

I give away my excess produce. Not worth my time to sell at the farmers market.
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rockfarmer
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Tue Sep 19, 2017 4:03 pm

Not interested in selling, just giving. Plenty of people that will take it. It makes great gifts, just like your jams, I'm sure.

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Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Tue Sep 19, 2017 9:58 pm

This has been a good year for my two hives, here in the mountains of western Maryland. Pulled two supers off in late Spring and just pulled three this past week. Hope I can get them through the winter again this year.
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:43 am

Don McCombs wrote:This has been a good year for my two hives, here in the mountains of western Maryland. Pulled two supers off in late Spring and just pulled three this past week. Hope I can get them through the winter again this year.


How many supers do you leave on for the winter?

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Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Tue Sep 26, 2017 3:10 pm

One on each. But, I also feed sugar water until freezing weather. Then I feed raw cane sugar during the winter.
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:23 pm

When do you stop feeding? I haven't fed my bees since the first year, perhaps that is why I never get any spring honey.

I heard some buzzing on Sunday afternoon, looked up and a swarm was flying by. I hope they weren't mine!

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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:19 pm

In theory, you should feed any time that nectar is not being produced by the available plants in your area. Of course, your local conditions are quite different from mine up here in the North. We have no plants producing nectar and pollen from the first frost (usually early to mid-October until late April or early May. So, to answer your question, probably about May 15th. As long as we don't steal it from them, the bees would typically be able to store enough honey and pollen (given the space available) to last them throughout the winter. Since we do steal from them, we need to make up the difference by feeding.
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:19 pm

Makes sense to me. I left an extra super on last winter. Looked exactly the same this spring. So either they replenished or did not use it. I may take them both this year and feed them sugar water til March. Then, maybe we will get some spring nectar.

Is there a big difference in taste with your spring vs fall honey?

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Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Wed Sep 27, 2017 6:35 pm

Yes. Spring honey is lighter in color, milder and tends to be dandelion, black locust and tulip poplar. Fall honey is darker, stronger and tends to be goldenrod, aster and clover.

Any problem with Africanized bees down there?
Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby rockfarmer » Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:19 pm

Not yet! I lived here for 2 years before establishing a hive because I was afraid that an Africanized queen would find it. Did not want to deal with the potential liability, especially with my kids bringing over their friends for camp outs, bonfires, kids being kids, etc. After doing lots of research, I discovered the best way to prevent it from happening, is to establish more domestic (non-africanized) bees.

The first time I visited the hive during bad weather, a low pressure with light sprinkles, I thought they had become Africanized. Got stung 4 different places at the same time and thought "don't swat, walk away slowly...wait, carefully put the frame back in the hive, then another sting, why am I doing this?...inner cover back on..." the whole time they were buzzing around like never before. A couple dozen followed me home, 200 yards.

I almost had the local apiarist come out and take samples and decided to grow a set and went out on a calm, blue sky, high pressure day at noon, no problems...calm as can bee!

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Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Wed Sep 27, 2017 10:31 pm

Yep. When it's cloudy, windy or rainy, leave them alone.
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby outdoors4evr » Thu Sep 28, 2017 7:52 am

I had no idea they were "fair weather friends" (and foul weather foes)
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Don McCombs
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby Don McCombs » Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:31 pm

When the weather is good, the field bees are out foraging. When the weather is bad, they stay at home and get grumpy.
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Re: My son, eat thou honey, for it is good!

Postby v w » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:23 am

My father started with bees during WWII because sugar was scarce and kept bees for most of the rest of his life. May I go the other way on early verses late honey? I prefer honey from sweet clover. This is not the honey generally marketed as clover which is June and/or red clover. Dad grew about three acres for the honey and would sell the seed. Sweet clover is good for nothing but plowing under as green cover and too hard to kill so seldom used. Late honey here is also darker. Did you ever try the darkest I have ever seen which is buckwheat? Yuck! If there was buckwheat anywhere near the honey being saved would be taken early and the dark left for the bees. Bees were not fed during most of the winter as they seldom left the hive during the winter so enough honey had to be left for them. Honey sits on our table all the time just like salt and pepper. Vern


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