Category Archives: Honey

Which Frames?

There is a lot of bewilderment over which frames to use but there shouldn’t be.  Once you understand what the different types are designed to do, the confusion is gone.

In this part of the world we tend to use either National or Commercial hives. Either way, the same principles apply – the only difference being the length of the lugs – that’s the bit you get hold of.

Basically there are two types of frame: Manley or Hoffman. Both are defined by their side bars.

You will sometimes see straight, narrow side bars which are neither Hoffman nor Manley – avoid them because you will need to consider how to space them and it’s not worth it in my opinion. Trust me – I’ve been there.

Here’s a picture of some parts – click it for a better view Continue reading Which Frames?

How to take a crop of heather honey

Ling heather (Calluna vulgaris) honey is out there on its own for flavour and character. It is rich, reddish amber in colour with a musky flavour; open the jar and the scent of the hills will fill the room. Turn the jar upside down and it won’t budge – this is because it is thixotropic – in other words it forms a viscous gel and will not flow which means it cannot be spun out of the frames like other honeys but has to be pressed from the comb or sold in the comb either as sections or cut-comb.

Heather honey is much sought-after (lovely heather honey recipe here) and commands a great price but to get a crop is not easy so the beekeeper needs to know about the Known Unknowns and Known Knowns. Not to mention the Unknown Unknowns. Continue reading How to take a crop of heather honey

November Ivy

It’s amazing that the ivy came into bloom in early August this year and it is still flowering and the bees are working it 3 months later!

Admittedly the earliest flowering ivy was a few miles downhill from here and we are on up on the north face of a chilly hill where most things are late, however – it’s still quite a spread you must admit.

Every warm day now, the bees are all over it gathering pollen and whatever nectar there may be. Spot the bee – click on the photo below for a better view.

Honey bee working the ivy (Hedera helix) in November
Honey bee working the ivy (Hedera helix) in November

Some of the flowers in this picture were pollinated some time ago and you can see the berries developing, russet now but black later. Some are still in full bloom and others are only buds. These last will almost certainly not open at all.

How to take a crop of Ivy honey

‘Why would you want to?’ says you. Well the news on the streets is that it’s only a matter of time before it will be announced that research into the health benefits of ivy honey has discovered it to be the best thing since Manuka – I’m serious. Click here for more about ivy honey.

Ivy flow
Strong ivy flow (23.10.14) note the yellow pollen loads. Click photo for full size image

However, taking a crop of ivy honey is problematic for several reasons:

  1. It sets in the comb even more quickly than rape honey so is difficult to extract;
  2. It is the last honey flow of the season and the bees build up on it and rely on it for their winter stores;
  3. By the time you take it off it could be too late to feed before winter sets in.

So, here’s what you do:

Continue reading How to take a crop of Ivy honey

Hawthorn Honey

There was a great flow this May (2014) and there is a heavy crop of hawthorn honey on board – a once in 5 year occurrence in these parts. Hawthorn pollen is a pale cream colour but you’ll know if you’ve got hawthorn honey because you will smell it!

Click here for ‘Bee Trees – Hawthorn

Here’s a photo of a hawthorn bee with pollen, click it for a better view

Hawthorn bee with pollenWhen there is this much honey from an early flow it’s best to take at least some of it off if only to spare the beekeeper’s back. Take only the sealed honey if possible, that way you’ll leave some for the bees in the June gap.

If, however, you suspect there may be rape in amongst it – you have no choice – you will have to take the lot off. If they have no feed below you should rapid feed a gallon or so of strong syrup but take the supers off first or they’ll put it in there.

Alternatively you could place a lump of fondant or better still Ambrosia (special bee fondant made with inverted sugar) over the feed hole. They won’t put this in the supers but if they need it – it’s there and it will also pull the bees straight up in to the supers which might help prevent overcrowding → swarming etc.

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Bees and Honey with a Scale Hive

A scale hive (or hive scale)  is a beehive set on a weighing scales so you can observe the daily change in weight.

Usually this means constructing a special stand which will accommodate the scales upside-down over a series of mirrors set like a periscope so the daily change of weight can be read from above. If you are manually inept or technologically minded or both, it is possible to buy a special solar-powered, digital scale hive which will allow you to monitor your bees from a distance – probably via a satellite – the mind boggles! Continue reading Bees and Honey with a Scale Hive

Bee Trees – Lime (Tilia spp)

On a filthy February day like this, when the rain keeps coming down and you’re harbouring a horrible virus, spring seems a long way away. Summer even further, so lets pretend it’s July, the sun is slanting through the trees and the bees are spiralling out of their hives like little golden bullets – the limes are in bloom, there is work to do and the tree tops are buzzing…

Lime (Tilia) flowers Continue reading Bee Trees – Lime (Tilia spp)

Bee Trees – Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Horse Chestnut Flower
Horse Chestnut in flower. Photo from Wikipedia

The scientific name for Horse Chestnut is Aesculus hippocastanum but that’s a bit of a mouthful for the familiar conker tree. The common name came about for several reasons:

  • The seeds or ‘conkers’ and the spikey seed pods are similar in appearance to those of the sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa). It should be noted that unlike chestnuts, conkers are not for human consumption;
  • When the leaves fall in autumn the twigs bear a horseshoe-shaped scar including marks like nail holes where the tiny vessels in the leaf stem part company;
  • At one time horse chestnuts were ground and fed to horses as a stimulant and to make their coats shine. The Turks used to believe conker-meal could cure broken-winded horses.

The Latin name Aesculus comes from a word that was originally applied to a type of oak but when Linnaeus the botanist drew up his original classification of species he gave it instead to the horse chestnut. ‘Hippo’ is Greek for horse, which also explains hippopotamus – meaning ‘river horse’. Meanwhile ‘kastanos‘ means chestnut. Continue reading Bee Trees – Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Bee Trees – Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

The scientific name of the hawthorn is Crataegus monogyna, Crataegus comes from a Greek word meaning ‘strong’ while monogyna means ‘one ovary’ and the resulting single stone in the fruits, or haws, is a distinguishing feature. The hawthorn has many other names including Sceach Gheal, Whitethorn or Quickthorn and May, Maybush or Mayblossom. Continue reading Bee Trees – Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)