|Honeybees are special in that they over winter as a colony unlike wasps and bumblebees (see Biology). The colony does not hibernate but staysactive and clusters together to stay warm. This requires a lot of foodstored from the summer before ...honey. Although a hive only needs 20-30lb. of honey to survive an average winter, the bees are capable, if giventhe space of collecting much more. This is what the beekeeper wants themto do.|
have been producing honey the same way for over one hundred and fifty million
Bees take nectar, which is a sweet sticky substance exuded by most flowers and some insects (Honey dew), and mix it with enzymes from glands in theirmouths. This nectar/enzyme mix is stored in hexagonal wax honeycomb until the water content has been reduced to around 17%. When this level is reached the cell is capped over with a thin layer of wax to seal it until the bees need it. This capping indicates to the beekeeper that the honeycan be harvested. Capped honey can keep almost indefinitely.
For the school swot:
Sucrose (nectar) + invertase (bee enzyme) = fructose
+ glucose = honey.
|The reason that a small scale producer can usually supply superior quality honey is primarily down to freshness. In addition to sugars, honey is a complex blend of many trace substances some of which are volatile and diminish relatively quickly after the bees have produced it. These are typically the elements that contribute to the subtle taste and pleasant floral aromatic qualities and are mostly lost in the mass produced product.|
|To obtain a consistent long life product the mass producer needs to flash heat-treat and mechanically thrash the honey. Then a blend is produced from several often geographically remote world sources to obtain a consistent but some would say bland result that could be two years or more from bee to toast.|
One hive can produce 60lb (27kg) or more in a good season, however an average hive would be around 25lb (11kg) surplus.
fly about 55,000 miles to make just one pound of honey, that’s 1½
times around the world !
queen bee is kept below the upper boxes in the hive (called ‘Supers’) by a wire or plastic grid that the queen is to large to fit
through (called a ‘Queen excluder’).
As the bees cannot raise brood above this queen excluder only honey is stored in the supers.
As the season progresses the beekeeper adds more supers until the time to
A special one way valve is then fitted in place of the queen excluder and gradually all the bees are forced into the lowest part of the hive, the beekeeper can simply lift off the ‘super’ boxes containing the honey comb.
The honey is removed from the comb using centrifugal force in a machine called
a extractor looking much like an old-fashioned
upright spin dryer.
used honey instead of gold to pay their taxes.
A strong colony can produce 2-3 times more honey than they need. If necessary the beekeeper can feed sugar syrup in the autumn to
supplement for the loss of honey.
type of honey made by the bees is dependent on the types of foliage and flowers available to the bees.
Crops such as oil seed rape (thebright yellow fields in the spring) produce large quantifies of
honey that sets very hard, so hard even the bees could not use it in the
winter, garden flowers tend to give a clear liquid honey.
If the beekeeper wantsto produce a mono honey i.e. clover, orange blossom etc. the
beehive is put out of range from other sources.
This can be difficult for the smallhobbyist and a blend of the season’s honey is usually the
result. In the autumn some beekeepers move their hives onto the moors to harvest
only the nectar from wild heather. Heather honey is thought to be the king
ofhoneys and has a clear jelly consistency.
Honey was found in the tombs of the Pharaohs, over three thousand years old
The only treatment is to filter to remove any wax debris produced during the extraction process.
youngest bees cluster in large numbers to raise their bodytemperature. Wax
producing glands under their abdomen slowly excrete slivers of wax about the size of a pinhead. Other worker bees ‘harvest’these wax scales and take them to the part of the hive requiring
the newwax. Bees use about 6lb of honey to produce 1lb of wax.
Bees normally stop making wax two or three days after the summer solstice
|Royal jelly is the food fed to queen bee larvae. It is a creamy white colour and is very rich in proteins and fatty acids. It is produced by the mouth glands in young bees. Each queen needs only a teaspoon of royal jelly, so as health product it is very expensive.||
Many magical propertiesare claimed of royal jelly however a sceptical view is probably the healthiest, especially as products sold in health shops can contain as little as 2% of the real thing. Pure royal jelly is almost tasteless.