[by Keith Rowand]
Inside a hive, bees store honey in frames that contain about 4 pounds of honey each. When I remove the frames from the hives, I store the frames separated by hive location and date. Once I remove enough full frames, I start extracting the honey into buckets and jars, all the while keeping the batches as separate as possible.
Flowering plants blossom at different times throughout the year, tempting bees and other pollinators with nectar of different characteristics (color, smell, taste, viscosity). Those floral nectar differences are reflected in the resulting honey; as flowers change the honey changes. In the past couple of years the honey has been dark in the early spring (autumn olive and tulip poplar in April/May), then became lighter in color as the bees moved to wild berries and brambles (May/June), and lighter yet as they finish with basswood, linden, and clover in June/early July. 2017 has been different – for the first time in several years black locust has bloomed in glorious quantity.
Black locust honey is among the sweetest of honeys and very light in color. I won’t say that I sell black locust honey, because so many other things blossom at the same time and the bees gather whatever they can. What I can say is that the early 2017 honey is lighter and sweeter for which I credit black locust. Early autumn olive did not make it into honey frames, while tulip poplar was stretched out over several weeks. Linden, basswood, berries, and clover will be in later honey batches.
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)
Black locust, tulip poplar, early wildflowers.
Color: Extra light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.6%
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, Washington, near Goat Hill Farm, harvested June 24.
High black locust content, with tulip poplar and wildflowers. Thicker with beeswax scent.
Moisture Content: 17.8%
Origin: Blend from Tiger Valley Rd (June 24) and Jericho Rd (June 8).
Predominately black locust; very sweet with butterscotch and vanilla tastes.
Color: Extra White
Moisture Content: 18.2%
Origin: Tiger Valley Rd, June 24 of selected frames.
Some autumn olive, with black locust and some tulip polar; creamy with caramel.
Color: Extra light Amber
Moisture Content: 17.5%
Origin: Jericho Rd, Huntly, June 8.
(This post will be updated as more batches make it to market.)