At Apiary Made, honey harvest is a very special time for us, both personally, and as a small business wanting to share the wonders of the beehive with the world.
Before any harvesting, we wait until the bees are ready to impart us with their divine product. This is when there is a surplus of honey to the needs of the hive. Waiting means we never quite know when our next batch of honey will come, but ensures we have happy bees all year round.
On Celeste’s latest expedition to the hives, located in a remote and tranquil area of Victoria, she found the honey frames were over 80 percent filled and capped. This is the ideal time to take the frames for honey extraction as the bees have dehydrated the honey down to 18% water, and so our honey harvest began.
We do the entire process manually: uncapping the frames by slicing off the wax caps the bees seal the honey cells with, which allows the honey to ooze out and then placing the frames in the extractor to spin. A lot of elbow grease goes into spinning the extractor to loosen the honey from the frames and then twice straining the honey to filter impurities. We then decanter it into bottles, ready to be enjoyed by our customers (and us too!). Our honey is not heated; thus a little more effort goes into straining a thicker product, but this means the honey stays pure and honest, exactly as the bees made it.
Our first batch of honey poured into new bottles as a delicate, clear, liquid gold. Our second batch however surprised us with a much darker tone, almost a tangerine orange. The difference in colour comes from the type of flowers the bees feed upon, which can change drastically season to season but also day to day. Our honey is ‘wildflower honey’, or ‘local flora’, which means the bees are free to roam near, far and wide, feasting on all the Yarra Valley can offer them. No batch of Apiary Made honey will ever be quite the same in taste, colour or nutrition profile...in the same way wine changes from year to year, our natural honey is always unique.
Perhaps most exciting this season is that we sent out a sample of jelly bush honey to be tested for its medicinal properties. Jelly bush flower seasonally, so timing-wise our last batch of honey is very likely to have properties of jelly bush. For Celeste, this moment has been a long time coming and we all wait in anticipation to see if we have some glorious jelly bush honey on our hands.
Thank-you bees for supplying us once again with an abundance of goodness.