Second Honey Harvest

Jacaranda in bloomIt’s a miracle – or a freak of nature. Five weeks after harvesting all the honey out of my 2 hives, it was time to harvest again. The only logical explanation is that it has been an amazing spring.

We think it’s basically jacaranda honey. You can see the purple flowers of the jacaranda in the background of this photo. The trees (they’re all over the neighbourhood) burst into bloom right as we were doing the last honey harvest and those huge heads of purple flowers quite literally drip nectar (you don’t want to park your car under one). The bees simply had to dash, scoop, race home, repeat and voilà  the hive was full.

Even the brand new frames with new foundation were packed full.

New comb filled with honey and capped in 5 weeks

New comb filled with honey and capped in 5 weeks

All we had to do was pull out the frames and extract the honey. I almost feel guilty it was so easy. The end result was about 50 kilos of honey from 18 harvested frames. That’s 10 kilos per week. 2 1/2 kilos per frame – you go girls!

20+ kilos of freshly harvested honey

20+ kilos of freshly harvested honey

Everything looks pretty good in our colonies. During our inspection of the hives we believe we spotted the queen of hive 2 – that was our first queen sighting. We need to get better at this. We found almost no sign of pest or disease. Both hives look really healthy. As part of our standard hive rotation we moved some frames up from the brood box to the lower super in the 2nd hive and unfortunately found that even some of the brood frames had been without foundation. Luckily they didn’t break during their move. After the honey is harvested from them (probably with the next harvest) we’ll have to cut all the comb out and put in a new foundation. I hope we don’t find more foundation-less frames but we know it’s a possibility and at least are getting better at dealing with it.

We added a second super to hive 1 (hive 2 got its second super during the last harvest). The bees had been spending an awful lot of time hanging on the front of the hive recently. We couldn’t find any queen cells (a sign they might be planning to swarm) so we think there are just too many bees for a 2 box hive. Anyway, now they have more space to move around and store their honey and we have 2 hives, each with one brood box and 2 super boxes. We’re all happy.

Our 2 hives each with 1 brood box and 2 supers

Our 2 hives each with 1 brood box and 2 supers

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About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: www.laurarittenhouse.com for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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19 Responses to Second Honey Harvest

  1. Max says:

    This is fascinating, I so want to get a hive but right now Karen is giving me a firm no!

  2. I’d love to taste Jacaranda honey. My friend who keeps bees nearby gave me some honey from lime trees (tilleuil) which are very heavily perfumed tree flowers and it was out of this world.

    • The problem with backyard bees is it’s really impossible to tell what flowers they harvested. I’m guessing it’s jacaranda but they could have been finding anything else out there – a little gum tree, some passionfruit, the odd rose… To be able to market your honey as a specific blend you have to move your bees to an area where that’s really all that’s on offer. But that doesn’t stop me from looking around and speculating.

      • I think the proof of the pudding might be in the taste of the honey but I did not realise that was what had to be done to ensure a single source honey, but I should have thought about it.

  3. Wow, you have done well. We are quite jealous as we didn’t get any honey this year at all from our bees. No wonder your supers are the same size as your brood, you need all that extra space for all that honey!1

    • I really feel for you – I’d hate it if we couldn’t harvest honey for a year. I’ll put a double load on my next piece of bread and toast you as I enjoy your share 🙂

      If we had only 1 super and it was half-height like yours we’d be harvesting every week or 2 at this time of year. That’s way too much stress for the bees and me. During winter we might go down to 1 super per hive. I hear it’s easier for them to keep warm. But we’ll have to talk to some more experienced local beekeepers to hear what they suggest.

      • You could start up an export business to the UK, we need the honey here!!

        • Your poor overworked bees barely make enough honey for themselves. My poor overworked bees make so much that I steal it from them and sell it to greedy humans. It’s a hard life if your a bee – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

          I think my bees would totally approve of my exporting the fruits of their labours to the UK if it went to helping their hungry cousins in your hives but something tells me it might make it to your breakfast table instead 🙂

      • My husband was so impressed with your honey haul that he has circulated your blog to the Taunton Beekeepers of which he is a member, so more fame!!

  4. Wow congratulations on your honey harvest! You have some pretty happy bees there by the look of it….

  5. Pingback: Keeping Bees Cool | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

  6. Bernard Sendlhofer says:

    Hi Laura, we met at a NSBK meeting when you were still living in Chatswood , I live about 200 metres away as the bee flies from your old place. I heard on 702 the other morning about Jacaranda Honey, and this made me do some enquiring, Sadly Jacarandas are not honey trees and are useless. Iam pulling the same honey as what you stated in your article. Its light in colour ,stunning in flavour ,with no odd taste, Its Tallowood E. Microcorys, Willoughby council has planted 100,s all over our neighborhood. A simple thing that I do whenever Iam out and about in my bee catchment area is to see whats in blossom and if the honey bees are actually working it. Different plants can yield nectar at different times of the day so it is easy to overlook some plants if your not there at the right time. Some plants yield nectar, have no flowers but are covered in bees, I have seen this too. Next year in October when the Jacarandas bloom stop and have a look and see if you can spot a honey bee. Good luck in Richmond… Bernard

    • Bernard,it’s nice to hear from you. How are your bees doing this year? I think the lack of rain has been a problem for our bees in Richmond but we’ve still got a lot of honey from our hard working girls. Including some, I suspect, from the local jacarandas!

      Last year we watched in awe as our bees went wild for the jacarandas. I’m not sure why someone is saying they don’t. I’ve spent a bit of time on the internet and found numerous sources saying planting jacarandas provides pollen and nectar for bees. Wikipedia lists it as a honey plant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_honey_plants

      One interesting thing about it is that we saw the bees all over the fallen blooms that were wet with nectar. I’ve read that that’s when they collect the nectar. Perhaps the shape of the flowers makes it hard for bees to get at the good stuff when the flowers are on the tree though we saw plenty flying around the blossoms.

      I’m pretty sure you are harvesting a lot of jacaranda honey, maybe mixed with tallowwood and plenty of other plants. I miss that incredible variety of Chatswood.

  7. Bernard Sendlhofer says:

    Hi Laura, thanks for your reply, My bees are doing really well this year ,are very strong and keeping the dreaded beetle at bay. Its been one of those years when you need to keep an eye on them otherwise they will fill up the spaces between the frames, which then becomes a sticky mess.
    The Jacarandas that we have here in Chatswood are Jacaranda Mimosifolia and if you have a look on the link to Wikipedia there are 49 species from the Genus Jacaranda, only four of these are beneficial to beekeeping…. J Brasiliana, J Caroba, J Decurrens, and J Paucifoliolata. You can find these under the Bignoniaceae family of plants.
    We also have some stunning Angophoras (A. Costata) that will flower in the next few weeks, They look stunning when they do but as I have learnt over the years are of no benefit to bees.
    Just a little side note , I saw that you had Bruce White out for the Queen rearing day , he is a very talented source of information , and very experienced beekeeper, but please if you are new to beekeeping and dont like getting stung, wear full protection to all parts of your body and dont copy what you see in the photos, I almost died infront of my 6yo in 2012 as a swarm that I was removing collapsed and poured down over my bare uncovered right arm, I recieved about 20 stings all at once which was too much for my body to handle, I had realised my mistake and got the owner of the property to drive me staight to RNSH.
    This has not put me off beekeeping but I do respect them alot more, and am always very wary of what exactly I am doing. Your in beekeeping Bernard.

  8. Bernard, I’m not sure why my bees went mad for the nectar of the jacaranda flowers on the foot path in front of my house on Centennial Ave if they aren’t beneficial for bees. There’s something fishy there. As for the Agaphora, I can’t comment. We had one growing in the back yard but the flowers were way to high for me to observe whether they attracted bees or not.

    Oh yes, I know Bruce White and have done a bit of work around the 23 hives out here at the Wheen Bee Foundation with him. And with a couple of professional beekeepers who also wear no protective clothing – they don’t even bother with long sleeve shirts or long trousers. It’s funny to watch them get stung, they react less than I would to a mosquito bite. But, I’m with you, I will keep my protective gear on when I open a hive. It might be slightly uncomfortable (and hot!) but a lot better than a bunch of stings. And heaps better than a visit to hospital.

    Cheers, Laura

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