I stole some comb honey from my bees for the first time in about three years.
The bees quickly drew out and filled the comb soon after local fireweed came into bloom, which makes me think it’s mostly fireweed honey. Pure fireweed honey is virtually colourless. It almost looks like it’s made from sugar syrup. I’ve only tasted it once in Newfoundland from hives set up in Logy Bay. I’ve tasted other honey in Newfoundland that claims to be fireweed, but the colour and taste of it makes me think it’s a mix. A pure varietal honey in Newfoundland, with wild flowers growing everywhere, seems unlikely.
Something To Keep In Mind: Plastic buckets from the hardware store contain BFA, a substance that is generally not good for humans. I doubt much BFA would get into the honey in this process because the honey isn’t stored in the plastic. It mostly just passes through the plastic funnels and sits in the plastic bucket for less than a day. But still, stainless steel or food-grade plastic buckets are preferable. Honey meant for public consumption should not come in contact with non-food-grade plastic.
I recently crushed and strained about 6 litres of liquid honey (about 1.6 US gallons) from a medium honey super. I followed what some called the 3-bucket method (a method I stole from the Backwards Beekeepers), which I’ve demonstrated before, except I didn’t do it properly the first time. This time I did it right and it worked perfectly. The process is explained with labelled photos below. Basically you pour the crushed comb honey into a bucket with holes it, which drains into a bucket with a paint strainer on it. Then you bottle your honey.
Honey with crushed comb dripping from top bucket (bucket #1) into a bucket with holes (bucket #2), then straining into a bottom bucket (bucket#3). (Oct. 07, 2014.)
This probably isn’t a bad method for hobbyist beekeepers with a small number of hives. Comb honey is the best, but for liquid honey, crush-and-strained in my experience tastes and feels better than extracted honey. The fact that the honey strains through the beeswax, much of flavour of the wax — which is a huge component of natural honey — isn’t lost like it would be with extracted honey.
I decided to pull a frame of honey yesterday from a monster hive that’s out of control.
Partially capped honey (July 01, 2012.)
The honey has a hint of maple and a distinct wild flower aroma compared to the more delicately balanced honey I harvested in the city last year. I’ve tasted some wild flower honeys that were almost pungent, not particularly pleasant or elegant. I’m glad that’s not the case here.
JULY 24, 2019: The video in this post was recently re-edited, re-packaged and posted on the Cheddar Gadgets Facebook channel without my permission. That’s a copyright violation. Whoever owns Cheddar Gadgets is now profiting from content I created. I have yet to earn a dime from any of my videos. While I think they did a fine job on the edit, it was done without my consent, without my approval, without any consultations with me whatsoever. That’s illegal. It’s what some people refer to as theft. I’m taking action to have the video taken down.
In the meantime, if you like the video and you want to show your appreciation for it, please leave a comment on the Cheddar Gadgets Facebook post with my video and call them out. Tell them that re-editing a video and posting it to their channel without the consent of the person who owns the video is a sleazy move. Tell them to take it down. I’d appreciate it. Thanks.
— Phillip Cairns
Please note that this is the poor man’s version of crush and strained honey. Plastic buckets from the hardware store contain BFA, a substance that is generally not good for humans. I doubt much BFA would get into the honey in this process because the honey isn’t stored in the plastic. It mostly just passes through the plastic funnels and sits in the plastic bucket for less than a day. But still, stainless steel or food-grade plastic buckets are preferable. Honey meant for public consumption should not come in contact with non-food-grade plastic.
Here’s a narrated video of me harvesting the last five foundationless frames from my hives this year. I cut out 28 small squares of honey comb from a little over 1 and a half frames. I crushed and strained the rest of it and bottled it the next day.
I meant to strain the crushed comb using “the 3-bucket system” that requires a paint strainer, but I put the paint strainer on the wrong bucket (the paint strainer goes on the bottom bucket), so I had to improvise a bit. That mistake cost me some honey, but it wasn’t too drastic. Continue reading →