This actually took place a few weeks ago on May 24th. I’m a bit late writing it up.
In the early spring our bees begin their busy season by collecting pollen from nearby willow trees. Next comes blackthorn and soon after comes dandelions, with several other early blooming things added to the mix.
If we had neighbors, I’m sure they would probably hate us because we never cut down our dandelions until they have gone to seed. In early spring, our yard is a blanket of golden yellow filled with happy buzzing bees. They need the pollen and we just happen to like dandelions :O)
Here in our village we are literally surrounded by fields which is common in Germany, crops are planted on nearly every patch of ground that isn’t used for housing, or forest land, or grazing land, that’s the only way to support such a huge population in such a relatively small country. Here in our village the main crops are wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, rapeseed, potatoes and sugar beets. Rapeseed is the earliest flowering crop and it makes up a large percentage of what our honey is made of.
This is a shot of the fields just on the other side of our fence, just behind our berry patch. Just one of many rapeseed fields in full flower.
I did a post last year which shows more of the actual honey extracting process, you can find it in my old blog, here (scroll down to the May 22nd entry). This year I was out of town when Peer harvested the honey but a friend took a few pictures for me.
Many of the beekeepers in our area do 2 harvests a year, they harvest in the spring and then again in the summer. We did that last year but we ended up having to feed our bees with commercial “sugar water” so that they could survive over the winter. That didn’t make a whole lotta sense to us, for one thing it’s expensive to buy, it’s not sustainable, not to mention that we don’t need all that honey so why not let the bees keep it? From now on, we’ll only harvest once a year, in the spring.
Anyway, here is the honey after it has been extracted from the comb and filtered. Peer is pouring it into a large bucket which has a spigot at the bottom designed for filling small jars.
Peer’s assembly line :o)
Since we don’t sell our honey, we don’t need a special room for this, our honey is only for us and our friends and family, so we do it the old fashioned way and just use our kitchen..
We ended up with 80 jars from 3 hives which is not necessarily a big harvest, but it’s more than plenty for us!