SPRING WILD FLOWER HARVEST
The start of the season was wet and cold, following on from one of the worst Winters for bees in living memory in our region. I lost 70 % of my hives mainly due to wet conditions rather than the cold. Those few hives that came through this were again working an abundant showing of Winter Heather, Snowdrops and Crocuses followed by the spring Heather and a reasonable flowering of our Camellia bushes.
As the Spring progressed however, the temperatures rose and the weather got better. The soaking ground provided a good nectar flow as the warmth kicked in. Dandelions and Bluebells were important again and the Manuka was abundant, but all were outshone by the stunning and prolonged showing of Hawthorne.
June saw proper Summer weather – something we haven’t seen for many years. This helped the bees ripen the honey. I managed to take about 150 lbs of a rich golden pollen-laden honey from the hives in the last week of June. This year again the Hawthorne has given it an almond-vanilla taste which lasts long in the mouth firing off the taste buds for ages.
SUMMER WILD FLOWER HARVEST
Things have got interesting this last 3 weeks. After taking off the Spring crop, I piled a load of empty supers back on the hives as we were going on holiday for 2 weeks start of July and I had seen the forecast. On our return last week I found the hives bursting, with the best laying-down of honey I have seen in the last 10 years. All the supers were crammed with all of the frames ripened and capped. I have started to harvest this and it is some of the best honey I have had. A friend tasted it and summed it up: “Wow – it tastes of flowers!” Although it is mainly Blackberry and Lavender, which has been spectacular this year at Goodwood, we also had a great and long show of the Wysteria which no doubt has provided some flavour with its pollen. A lovely light honey with Citrus and Elderflower overtones – even though honeybees do not generally touch Elderflower! The colour contrast with the Spring Honey is remarkable – see pic below.
By the middle of August we had harvested a total of 1200 lbs from 10 hives. Along with the Spring honey this was a record for us. Remarkable in view of the Winter losses. This shows what a decent Summer can provide…
We took no more honey from the hives after the middle of August, leaving all hives with a full super for their own Winter stores. After the ivy flow in late Autumn, all hives were still loaded with honey which – hopefully – will mean a good survival rate this coming Winter.