Thursday, August 09, 2012

Off to the fair, honey!

Today I managed to bottle a little bit of honey. I need to buy more jars! Right now the honey I've extracted is sitting in two five-gallon pails (which weigh well over 50 lbs each) plus a smaller pail holding honey from cappings. The cappings are the wax bits covering each cell of honey. I scrape off the cappings before putting each frame of honey in the extractor. I will try to remember to get some pics of the extracting process when I harvest our next round of honey in a couple of weeks, but here are some from 2010 if you're interested!


Gordon helped me lift one of the buckets  of honey up onto an upturned mop bucked on my counter, so it would at the right height for me to slip a jar and scale under the honey gate (opening through which the honey flows.) This 750 mL jar holds a kilogram (2.2 lbs) of honey.


The air bubbles have to settle but it's beautiful and delicious. My bees make amazing stuff.



I had one little 500g jar so I filled it and took it off to enter in the Willamstown Fair, which is Canada's oldest fair. It's celebrating its 200th anniversary this year. I entered in the amateur category. We'll see how my honey does. I've wanted to enter my honey for a couple of years now so I'm glad I finally got my act together and did it!

I'm hoping to get another 200 lbs of honey before August ends, as well as some comb honey. We'll see how it goes. The rain we are finally getting (after a long drought) will slow everything down a bit. Bees can't forage in pouring rain.

Every year, I'm excited to taste our honey and every year, I am amazed at how these industrious little insects create something so wonderful. I never even liked honey until I started keeping bees and tasted raw honey from my own hive. Yummy!





24 comments:

  1. I remember chewing honeycomb when I was a kid. I'm wondering on what basis the honey would be judged at the fair and what the difference is between raw and pasteurized honey.

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    1. In the amateur category, I'm not sure what they're going by, but in the other categories, I think they take into account flavour, clarity, moisture level... it's a good question. I'll have to find out exactly that they're looking for.

      The sole reason they pasteurize honey is to stop it from granulating on the grocery store shelf. That's it! It's all about aesthetics. Honey is naturally sterile and doesn't need to be pasteurized. In fact, pasteurization destroys all the yummy little things that give raw honey its beautiful, delicate, complex flavours. And if there are any health benefits to honey (and I think there are), pasteurization destroys them, too!

      Big producers also use heat filtration on their honey, which further degrades the taste.

      Raw honey is pristine. It goes from extractor to jar without any straining or filtration. But I've been told that strained honey can also be called raw honey. I like to make sure there are no bee body parts in my honey! :) But I like to leave the pollen, minerals and enzymes that I think make it taste better.

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  2. As always an interesting account of the honey process.
    Good luck at the fair!

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    1. Thanks Red! Our beekeeping association kept sending out emails encouraging people to enter, because they haven't been getting enough entries. We'll see how much competition I have! :)

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  3. Yummy is right!!! I so want some of that yummy honey! love, love honey with wax in it!

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    1. I have a box on one of my hives right now to make comb honey. I've never tried it before so we'll see how it goes!

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  4. Fingers and toes crossed for a blue ribbon for you Natalie........
    It looks like liquid gold and I can imagine how wonderful it tastes.
    Bees are the most amazing little things and how they turn pollen into honey well..........

    Have a great weekend,

    Claire :}

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    1. Thanks Claire! I am just so amazed by all the things honeybees do. :)

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  5. Nature's most precious gift.... even though it's hard work getting it.

    They bring the hives in here about May, to pollinate the Chestnut trees. The resulting Chestnut Honey is dark and slightly bitter. Personally I like it, but many don't. Yours looks Gold Medal quality. Good luck!

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    1. Wow, I didn't know they needed to pollinate Chestnut trees like that. In Canada I think perhaps the biggest crop for commercial bee pollination is blueberries. I wonder if Chestnut honey is a bit like buckwheat honey, which is also dark and a little bitter?

      It was fun entering mine in the fair. We'll see what happens! I'm just glad to have it out there.

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  6. My beans think´s honey is jummy too !

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  7. Hope you win a blue ribbon!

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  8. I remember eating honey from the comb when I was a child. I know nothing about the process but wouldn't pasteurising honey remove all it's healing properties?
    Jane x

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    1. Exactly!!!! Kiss those useful enzymes good-bye! Plus the big commercial honey producers blend their honeys. They get honey from various sources and just mix it all together. That does not produce the best-tasting honey!

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  9. Once in New York State I was in heavy traffic on the Thruway, and near a bee carrier for miles. It was a long semi, stacked with bee hives. Most amazing, there were bees flying in the air all around the hives as they moved down the road, even at sixty miles an hour. It was fuzzy motion for all the time I could see them.

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    1. Wow!! I always feel a little sorry for those bees that get moved around for pollination purposes. It's amazing they can keep it together at all!

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  10. Good luck at the Williamstown Fair. Your honey should win something just for being so beautiful. I think honey presents a good example for why our society should re-consider how food is produced, distributed and sold. We need more small producers selling locally to their communities and a move away from food warehouses. The health benefits alone would make it worthwhile.

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  11. Thanks for all the information on honey! I've never been a huge fan of honey although I love in on ice cream. Now that I know more about what makes good honey, I'll have to find some of the good stuff!

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    1. I didn't like it until I had my own. Now I have it every day!

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  12. That is so pretty in the jar! BTW, I've been busy but tried to leave a comment about your adorable little ducklings a couple of days ago, was having some issues with my browser loading your blog. But back to the ducklings. To think not too long ago you were agonizing over how many should hatch. You big softie. : )

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    1. And now I can't control myself!

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Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!