2018 Honey Harvest

Laughing Duck Gardens in Washington, Virginia.

 

Honey extracted during June 2018.

Honey extracted during June 2018.

 

[by Keith Rowand]

Rappahannock Arboreal Honey Facts and a Printable Honey_Fact_Sheet

Jump to Batches Scroll to bottom for Batches

2017 might have been a special year for honey; our harvest was about 900 pounds for 30 colonies. In 2018, I’m hoping for 600 pounds without much of the nuance found in 2017. Clover has saved the day! Harvest currently over 700 pounds with more still ripening! The reason was rain. Just as locust flowers reached peak bloom, a week of rain. Just as the tulip poplar started to bloom, a week of rain. Brambles and berries fared well, but there was a lot of moisture in the air. Basswood and linden fared a little better, but the bloom ended with 6 inches of rain. In addition to washing out flowers (bees don’t collect nectar during rainy weather), the rain elevated humidity making it difficult for the bees to cure the honey. Nectar is about 30% water while honey is less than 20% water (unripe honey over 20% water will ferment in a bad way). Bees collect nectar, convert it to unripe honey, and then fan it until it ripens. Once ripe, the bees seal the honeycomb with wax. Here it is the first week of July and only about 1/2 of my harvest is fully capped. Total as of July 21 of 790 pounds!

Another problem of these rain interruptions is that I’m not getting complete frames of nectar from a single source – locust is adjacent to berry adjacent to clover, etc. To address this I’m processing smaller batches. Instead of 9 frame batches, I’ve collected a few 6 frame sets (my extractor works best with 9 frames, ok with 6 or even 3). July 22 and after 2 weeks of dry the rains returned. There are STILL uncapped/unripe frames in the field and I need to begin mite treatments. #stillthankful

For more about frames and the harvest, please read about the 2017 Honey Harvest.

 

For these notes, color is taken from the Pfund color chart, a standard honey measurement. Grade A honey must have no more than 18.6% water content (above 20% fermentation can occur)

Batches

Batch “A”
Color: White/Extra light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.3%, 37.5 pounds.
Origin: Tiger Valley, colonies 14, 15, & 16 harvested June 19.

Batch “B”
Color: White/Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.0%, 34.4 pounds.
Origin: Jericho Rd, colonies 5, 17 & 18 harvested June 30.

Batch “C”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 39.2 pounds.
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, colonies 14, 15, & 16 harvested June 24.

Batch “D”
Color: Extra Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.3%, 20.9 pounds.
Origin: Capping tank, blended from multiple batches harvested in mid June.
Sweet and floral with a good black locust presence.

Batch “E”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.5%, 17.8 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #1 harvested June 28.
Darker than early honey mostly from berries.

Batch “F”
Color: Light Amber
Moisture Content and total weight: 18.6%, 19.4 pounds.
Origin: Harris Hollow, colony #3 harvested June 28.
Similar to Batch E, Darker than early honey mostly from berries.

Batch “X”
Batch “X” is something new – it is not raw honey, but is honey that is heat extracted from the wax cappings left at the end of the process.  5 pounds  of cappings yield one pound of  wax  and 4 pounds of dark honey.  I don’t consider it a premium honey, but  some people really like it. The wax from this process is very clean and can be used in cooking.
Color: Amber
Moisture Content: 19.2%

(This post will be updated as more batches make it to market.)

 

2 comments

  1. Khalil says:

    Excellent report, thanks for the time to explain this to a non-bee person; makes me appreciate Keith’s efforts even more.

  2. sylvie says:

    Thanks, Khalil. Bees are fascinating creatures with complex eco-systems. And honey is a seasonal crop, subject to weather vagaries. There is always something to learn.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *