After all the cold wet weather this spring, followed by sudden swarming problems when the weather changed I have been feeling a bit stressed out by my bees this year – it certainly has been a lot more challenging than last year when I just had my little nuc to deal with.
But this lovely hot spell has seen the bees inundated with a fabulous flow of nectar; the hives are all full of stores and the honey supers have been filling rapidly. This is particularly so in the Burcot hive, which is a ridiculously strong colony since the swarm which left it went back to re-join the others. Not only do the bees here benefit from the village gardens, they are only about 200 metres from the River Thames and all the lovely trees and wild flowers along its banks. There is also farmland surrounding the village with fields of oilseed rape also just a couple of hundred metres away which is still in flower.
Yesterday I took off the first super full of big fat frames of Burcot honey!
The honey is a lovely pale colour with a delicate taste. I am assuming it contains a high proportion of oilseed rape nectar which is prone to crystallising quickly and solidly so we put it in buckets to allow the natural crystallisation to take place before we process it to make it more palatable – I think this involves gentle heating and “creaming” which is pretty much mashing/mixing until you get a soft-set type of honey.
I did jar up a couple of samples – including one for a boy at the school where I work who is suffering horribly with hayfever. He lives in Burcot and I’ve read that consuming unheated, coarsely filtered honey containing pollen grains daily can desensitise hayfever suffers to the effects of the pollen (see this article from The Telegraph). I think you should ideally begin using it before the hayfever season starts to build up resistance. I’m not sure there’s any firm evidence for this, but it certainly won’t hurt (plus my honey is DELICIOUS!)