First Taste of Honey

First Taste of Honey

It’s November 2018 as I take a second look at this post I wrote in 2010. It doesn’t make me cringe, but almost. I’m impressed by my enthusiasm and fascination for beekeeping, my attention to every little detail that I don’t understand. These days when I meet new beekeepers or people who want to get into beekeeping, I can usually tell what kind of beekeepers they’re going to grow up to be. Bad beekeepers don’t notice too much. Good beekeepers notice everything. You don’t have to tell them what to look out for because they’re already looking out for everything.

I got my first taste of honey from one of our hives this morning (5 minutes ago), and there is no doubt about it: It’s the best honey I’ve tasted in my life. This is what it looks like at the bottom of a Mason jar, a mouthful chunk of comb with honey in it.

I decided to inspect the hives this morning because it’s going to rain for the next few days and I knew I’d be too busy with my silly job next week to poke around with the bees. I wanted to look down at the frames to see how much comb has been drawn out, but I didn’t want to pull out the frames and disturb the bees too much.

Inner cover upside-down with broken comb attached in the middle. (July 30, 2010.)

I didn’t use a smoker on either of the hives because I don’t like the way smoke agitates the bees, even though it’s supposed to make the bees easier to handle. This is what I saw when I pulled off the inner cover from Hive #1. That’s broken attached to the middle. I didn’t plan on sampling any honey, but I knew I could scrape some off the top without bothering the bees too much.

Here you can see how thick the comb is on top of the frames — and it’s full of honey. I’m not sure if I should be concerned about this, if I should clean it up before it gets out of control — I don’t know. The last time I used the smoker on the bees, the whole hive lit up with a rumbling buzzing sound. Not using the smoker this time, they acted like I wasn’t even there.

Here’s a close-up of the broken comb. The bees were virtually silent during all this. Maybe they were wondering what happened to the roof and why there’s honey all over the place now. Most that were on the honey stayed on the honey, eating it up, I assume.

Bridge comb. (July 30, 2010.)

Many of the frames were connected together with comb. It’s going to be messy when I have to pull out the frames for a thorough inspection, which I have to do soon. I wonder, should I break up these connections now before it gets worse? It seems like it might be trouble.

And this is what I saw under the roof of Hive #2, a well-behaved and tidy little hive — and no honeycomb on top to sample. These bees haven’t drawn out as much comb as those in Hive #1, probably because I didn’t feed them anything for the first week. There are more bees in the hive now than there were two weeks ago, and more of the frames have been drawn out — in both hives. So the hives seem to be doing alright. I will have to give them a thorough inspection soon just so I can see exactly what’s going on — how much brood is being reared, if there are any swarm cells and so on. I’d like to find an experienced beekeeper to help me out with that, but if I have to I’ll keep doing what I’m doing: taking my best guess.

Anyway, the honey is delicious.

November 2018 postscript: That’s burr comb I had to scrape off because the inner cover was upside-down. The flat side of the inner cover is usually face down in the summer. It’s unlikely the honey I tasted from the burr comb was pure honey. It was most likely fake honey created from sugar syrup. Today I would not place empty frames between frames of brood so early in the live of a nuc colony. I would put the 4-5 frames of the nuc in the middle of the deep and probably let them build out to 7-8 frames before I’d start insert empty frames.

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