This year I took on four hives belonging to a local farmer in addition to the hives in my home apiary. There have been beehives on his farm as long as anyone can remember and he was keen to keep the tradition going, but the previous bee-keeper was trying to cut back on his workload and wanted to give them up.
The bad news when I first visited the hives early in the Spring was that one colony had died out over the winter. There were clear signs of something, probably a woodpecker, having a go at the hive, so it’s possible that’s what caused it. The good news (or further bad news if you’re that way inclined) was that once the weather warmed up thirty-five acres of oilseed rape burst into flower in a field half a mile away. I took around 90lbs of OSR honey off those three hives shortly afterwards.
I can’t imagine anyone will argue much about the summer being very poor and whilst I know of some people who did ok, I also know of people who were having to feed their bees when they should have been harvesting their honey crop, so whilst disappointed I was happy to have approximately 70lbs of honey when I took the harvest in August.
The summer honey is now bottled and sales will begin as soon as my new labels arrive. It doesn’t perhaps have the immediate sweet hit that some other honeys do, but has a very creamy feel on the tongue and to borrow a few wine-tasting terms, has very good “length”, with a little touch of spicy heat. The OSR honey I plan to make into “set” honey once all the additional bits arrive. I’ve never made set honey before, so it’s going to be a bit of an adventure. I’m quite looking forward to it.