Wednesday, August 3, 2022

2022 Spring Harvest

 Honey harvest, extraction and packaging is complete for Spring 2022. It's a huge effort and a happy announcement to make! Now there's just one hurdle...  Selling it all. 

Hopefully, some of you out there are hungry for good local honey!

However, as of this date, we do not have any sales events/festivals/fairs/etc. planned or booked. It's been a summer of transition for us, so click through for the low-down:
As we prepped for the Spring nectar flow, we were in the midst of planning and logistics for two graduations this year. Our son graduated from college and, a month later, our daughter graduated from high school. Both of these transitions had unique challenges that kept us away from the hives more than usual, so we weren't entirely sure what sort of harvest we would have. 

The bees were in the midst of their own transitions, as discussed in the prior post, and we are experimenting with going to single-deep hives from our two-deep practices for the last five years. We also split every hive in an attempt to minimize swarming, knowing how busy we were going to be. I'm happy to report that it (mostly) worked! We did still lose some bees to swarms but it was a lot less than in prior years and with a LOT less management from us. The hives all maintained or gained a queen and we currently have 9 queendoms in the yard.

NINE???   Yes, NINE!!

They're not all pictured above, as this was taken during the honey harvest. You can see there are fume boards on the top instead of covers. Eight of  the hives are visible though (a single deep hive is out of frame to the left with three honey supers on it as well). Three honey-producing hives are shown, plus the white hive. Then there are two nuc colonies side-by-side on the cinderblocks in the middle of the picture, plus the skinny stacked nuc, which has an upper and a lower colony (their entrances are opposite ends of each other). That's nine!

We will have to figure out which queens make the cut to go through winter. We're not sure what we'll do with the ones we opt against, but we'd rather not assassinate anyone if we don't have to. We are active in a local beekeeping group so there may be colleagues there in need of queens. This is a new problem for us -- having too many functioning queen-right colonies!
The honey harvest went very smoothly but that doesn't mean it wasn't hard work! Hauling honey from our apiary to process it will remain the limiting factor in how long we are able to be beekeepers. As soon as we can't physically do the labor, we're going to have to be done... it's just brutal in the heat of July. We're still young-- don't get me wrong-- but it's completely exhausting and extremely uncomfortable to make multiple trips, in full bee suits, in summer heat.

Once removed from the hives, everything else gets easier. We gave our new extractor its first full harvest workout and it went great! Much better to spin out eight frames at a time instead of our prior three frame chokepoint. The extractor is still manual, but the gearing is better and that decreases the effort substantially, as does having the crank mounted on the side instead of the top.
In the final tally, we wound up with about the same amount of honey last year. It's somewhere around 250 pounds, of which we deemed 225ish to be sellable. The rest was scraped off equipment, drained off the cappings or from finishing off buckets when jarring and we came out uneven. That honey will be used by us and our family members. We also have some frames we froze to feed back to the bees they need it.
We still have some half pint jars from last year -- remember, raw honey never spoils! -- so we tried to adjust our product mix to compensate for that. The honey itself is very, very similar to last year from a color, clarity and taste assessment. Naturally the honey from last year is lightly crystalized (which personally prefer from a spreading/usability standpoint), so we'll have that as an additional option for those who find the fresh honey too "runny" when putting on bagels or toast. The fresh honey is really great for tea drinkers, baking -- anything where dilution is important or "soaking in" is desired (looking at you baklava!) And there are lots of people who don't like any crystalization, so the fresh honey is all they want anyway.
Prices are up slightly this year, but for most people it's going to be about 50 cents/jar. We generally purchase our jar supplies a season or two ahead, but of course that means we're restocking now at the current supply-chain-inflation-etc prices and they've gone up. 

To help offset the price bump, we've formalized our buyback plan (also posted on our Current Prices page). In short, we're happy to credit or purchase back our jars/rings/lids/labels at 50 cents/set. That's for all four components as a set, obviously! The limitation on "our" is because we know that our lids have not been pressure-cooked and the rubber seals are still viable for reuse. Our labels are a distinquishing mark and not inexpensive in their own rite, so getting a couple trips through commerce is good for everyone. We also hope that encourages repeat customers. Everything is thoroughly recleaned and prepped just like our new jars are. We do NOT directly refill empty jars.

This year we're also starting an email list. We will not spam you-- we promise! What we will do is send out information regarding events we are scheduled to sell at, along with reminders when each season's harvest is ready for sale. For anyone looking for the limited availability stuff (like quart jars or comb honey), this is the list to be on-- email us to get on that list if you aren't already. 

We will continue to post to social media as well. We are @DandelionApiary on Twitter and Instagram

Limited delivery in the McKnight Road / Route 19 (North Hills, NA) is something we can probably work out. We are also willing to ship via USPS (see the Current Prices page) with payment in full, in advance. Please contact us by email FIRST. 

Thank you everyone, come get some  H O N E Y !!

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