10 Oct Heather Harvest!
In the last week of September ,as the heather was fading,
I took the supers off the four hives at Jamie’s farm on Mynydd Morvil in the Preselis, reduced the hives to their brood boxes and started to feed the bees to make up for nicking the fruits of their 6 weeks hard labour.
Heather honey has a relatively high water content and to ensure it doesn’t ferment once jarred, I stacked the supers in a staggered column in a small room plus de-humidifier to drop the water content of the honey down to 17%.
On Friday we started the laborious process of extraction.
Heather honey is thixotropic, which means it only runs under pressure or after agitation. Unless one spends many thousands of quids on sophisticated plant, the only option is to sacrifice the comb, scraping the honey cells off with a special tool, and then crushing the wax/honey mix through a linen bag encased in a fruit press.
It was hot STICKY work done in front of the Aga – to try and encourage the honey to run. Even with Jamie’s extra muscle, after 4 hours we had still only managed 30 lbs.
The result was worth it.
I was very nervous as I had read that heather honey, though highly sought after for its health-giving properties, was an acquired taste and not liked by everyone.
Well, thats a load of baloney – the honey is sublime! The colour is a bright orangy-gold honey. A heady almost tropical scent still fills the house here – of a sweet, burnt toffee / cocoa. The taste is huge and special, a fruity chocolate which explodes into a long tingling citrus finish.
Although small, this is an amazing harvest from the simple wild Ling heather that covers the tops of the Preseli hills.
We will finish the job over the next couple of days, then the honey will need settling out for the next week or so and will then be jarred. The jars shown in the pic are emergency supplies for Jamie as he couldn’t wait for the settling process….hence the air bubbles and small pieces of wax.