Brag alert! This post is all about my fantastic honey harvests. I’m unashamedly blowing my own horn while modestly giving a nod to my hard-working bees who actually did all the work. To those of you who struggle with harsh winters and Varroa mites, I sympathise with you, but not enough to be silent about my mega-harvests!
A season in beekeeping is counted from spring to autumn rather than on a calendar year (in the northern hemisphere they are actually the same, but not Down Under). I have heard a lot of people talk about how much honey a beekeeper can expect to harvest per hive per season, but mainly I’ve heard that it’s unknowable; dependent upon weather, hive health and the attitude of the bees. Nonetheless, I hoped to harvest enough to set myself and maybe a few friends up with honey to last the full year. Talk about setting the bar low!
We bought two established beehives in mid-October of 2012. That was spring here and the bees were pretty much at their peak production. The hives were full of honey so we needed to harvest as soon as the ladies all settled down into their new surroundings. This might have given us a head start for the season but if we’d had the bees all year, we just would have harvested earlier so reaped the same honey in August or September rather than October. I really don’t think the timing of bringing our bees home effected the total harvest. Anyway, we harvested our first frames on Halloween, quite the good omen I’d say. And it was all go for the next 6 months.
Here are the stats, read ’em and weep:
31 October: 47.0 kilos of honey;
2.9 kilos of wax
5 December: 49.2 kilos of honey;
0.7 kilos of wax
23 January: 24.4 kilos of honey;
0.3 kilos of wax
10 March: 39.7 kilos of honey;
1.1 kilos of wax
SEASON TOTAL: 160.3 kg honey;
4.9 kilos of wax
If we had been ruthless, I am sure we could have harvested a few more frames, but we wanted to leave our girls with extra honey over our first winter together. The last thing we want to have to do is feed them through winter and, if there is surplus honey, it will just be harvested in spring. It certainly won’t spoil in the hive (though it just might crystallise).
This means that for the season, we harvested 80 kilos of honey per hive. That’s the equivalent of 160 normal jars of honey (a jar being 500 grams or 1 pound) PER HIVE!. Not to forget an abundance of wax for candles to last more than 1 winter.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we scored maybe 10 small boxes (takeaway container size) of honeycomb full of honey for eating with cheese and crackers (yummmmm).
What more can I say except bring on the 2013/2014 season!