A Taste Of Honey

Last weekend when we checked the beehive, we saw that one of the combs was stuck to the bottom of the hive. We're thinking it must have fallen and then the bees reconnected it to the bar, but we had to remove it to keep them building comb in good, straight lines. So we cut it off of the box and decided to get a closer look once we closed up the hive:

The part that Kirk is cutting off is actually the bottom of the comb. The solid yellow around the side and bottom (or shorter) edge is capped brood: cells that have bee larvae inside. Sorry bees. 

Here's one hatching. Can you see her little eyes looking straight up at you? (She's dead center in the photo.) To the left is more capped brood; to the right is uncapped honey, nectar, and bee bread

Kirk cut off the brood sections because we are just not into eating bee larvae (yet). Fascinating cross section makes for an awesome biology project, though:

In each cell you can see a semi-formed baby bee. They are white, and you can see that they're closer to being bees than larvae. Well, were closer. They're goners since we had to remove the comb, so the chickens enjoyed eating them.

The middle and top section of the comb had a lot of uncapped honey (and a little bit that was capped with white beeswax for safekeeping):

This isn't really ready to harvest, but we figured since we already had to sacrifice it, we might as well get to taste it. Kirk crushed the comb in his hands to squeeze out the honey:

This made a huge mess. A bucket and mallet would have been better. But as far as tactile experiences go, it was a good one.

The bit of honey that we got is full of pollen and bee bread. The honey itself we tasted plain by wiping up all the drips from the cutting board, and it was very pale and light tasting--very floral. In the future I will take better notes about what is blooming when we harvest honey, because it will taste different every time. This weekend when we opened the hive, for instance, it definitely smelled like lilac, which had been blooming for the previous two weeks. 

Anyway, this much pollen makes the honey look much darker than it really is, and gives it a grainy texture. It's a very fine grainy texture, but it's definitely noticeable. Still, the result is really flavorful (more of that Amish farmers market taste of the bee bread), and it was excellent in a cup of chamomile tea this evening. 


  1. so...how much honey might you expect to harvest from this hive...and when would you harvest it?

  2. We've been told that the average harvest is about 40 pounds per year from a top bar hive of this size. We don't expect much at all this first year, though: we need to let the bees have their fill to make it through the winter before taking any honey for ourselves.


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