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Monday, September 17, 2012

Have you seen my honey?

This year I'm trying to be a beekeeper.  I've been interested in it all my life because my grandparents had hives out in the apple orchard on their dairy farm in Pelzer. Nobody ever let me get around those white boxes in the tall grass though.  I watched from a distance, usually from a low branch in an apple tree, when Papa or Uncle Henry robbed the hives. Somehow I stumbled on an announcement about the Clemson Extension Office in Spartanburg offering a beekeeping class back in the winter. I signed up just to find out more.  I found out that it's a lot harder to keep bees these days than it was.  There are pests and diseases now that they didn't have back then.  I was almost turned off by the first class because it was mostly about all the diseases you have to watch out for.
I started by purchasing two hive kits from Brushy Mountain Bee Farm in NC and two packages of Italian honeybees.  Installation day was April 6.  I pretty much left them alone for a month before I opened the hives, checking only the outside activity. In August I felt brave enough to rob a frame of honey from each hive. Here is what it looks like.
It's a very dark honey with a strong flavor.  Momma says it's the best tasting honey she has ever put in her mouth.
That's all I'm going to take this season.  I'll leave the rest for the bees to eat over the winter.  My goal this first season with bees is to get two colonies to survive the winter, start out strong next spring, make more bees, and make more honey.

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