Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bottling Up Some Honey

We got some heavy rain all this morning which put a screeching halt to my plans for maybe hitting the range today. It also ruined my plan of making a couple more solar bees-wax candles I had all ready to go as well. There hasn't been enough sun light with the cloud cover to sufficiently melt the wax inside the solar melter. Still the rain is welcome because the water barrels were getting a bit empty and needed a refilling not to mention the blooms on some of the wild stuff were beginning to dry up. This latest rain should give the girls another week or more of good forage and get the Dutch clover more expansion time. We lost so much clover to the drought last year and it is only slowly working it's way back.

So with all my back up plans ruined and the temps still well into the 90's and now the humidity off the scale I decided to bottle up the honey I harvested this weekend.

I estimated I had somewhere around 4 gallons in my 5 gallon pail so I got an assortment of jars washed up or boiled and sanitized yesterday. I then covered the jars overnight with clean cloth so they would be dry for today's bottling. I suspected that bottling honey might be my only recourse when I looked at the forecast yesterday. 

I placed the pail outside for a few hours to get it up to the outside temperature. The sun couldn't be counted on to shine but 90's is a good pour temp regardless.

Due to overflows, dribbles, and the last little bit left in the bottom when I am finished I always get to sample plenty of my girls honey on bottling day. It's a real treat.

As I estimated it came out to exactly four gallons worth in various sized bottles. Three gallons worth is already spoken for by people I used to work with, neighbors, friends, family etc. I been jotting down demands for honey from phone calls for the last few weeks. I also gave out almost two gallons a few weeks ago as well. Some of the neighbors have been just pulling up in the drive asking if I have any yet. One came by while I was pulling these last frames looking for honey so my secret didn't last long this time and I suspect all the locals knew I had some ready to bottle by today for sure.

Some days I have dreams of opening an actual honey sales booth at farmers markets but the fact is that so far my honey doesn't last long enough to actually get to one.  I tried it once last year and was sold out in an hour with people trying to get me to commit to supplying them with gallons of the stuff. I couldn't make such a commitment as who knows what will happen? As it turned out I was right last Summer.

I know for a fact that there are a few people around who sell honey as local but in reality they buy it from places as far away as Florida. They call it local wild honey but don't really say what locale it is local to I guess. Most people may not care but I make it a point to get my honey to those local people who suffer allergies as my top priority. Honestly my son's allergies were the real reason I even started bee keeping so it seems only fitting. Honey purchased even a hundred miles away really wouldn't help those with local allergies so mis-representing the honey as local would be wrong even if it is pure and unpasteurized raw honey.

The truth is if I had the hives that survived I think I could actually make a living off keeping bees as long as I didn't get another Summer like last year anyway. The problem is I would either have to sink about 20K into it next Spring or wait another 5 years to build up far enough to expect a reasonable return, and five years is barring any events and set backs mind you. I have the space, knowledge and desire. I could probably come up with the capital but the risk is a major concern especially with the shellacking we took this Winter. It is one thing to lose a bunch of bees you either bred or captured yourself since the actual hives are still useable but to drop a few hundred dollars per package and have them die out would be a catastrophic loss.

Anyway just some thoughts I had going through my head as I got everything ready and made sure I had everyone covered. As long as the rains continue I should be able to get another ten or more gallons out of the girls this Summer and Fall.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Risking the capital is a big deal. I know how you feel. It's one thing to risk a lot of time and commitment (opportunity cost) but most businesses expose you to at least 5 if not 6 digits of "$" exposure.

  2. Russ - Ya. I would have to sell off some investment assets that admittedly I wrote off a few years ago anyway. Amazingly enough I let em sit just so if things went South I could point to em and show I was still invested in the system, yet they continue to grow magically. At the time I felt I was putting my money where my mouth was and committing a reasonable amount into tangibles. However the part I left in keeps growing even while I do little with it.

    The wife would kill me though lol.

  3. Well, you could probably sell other items like the solar candles-those sound cool.
    There is a lady that keeps a booth at the local gun shows here and she does bottled honey, and candles. She also offers cookbooks with honey recipes. gift baskets etc...

    But I agree though with the popularity of your honey, you would need a lot of capitol to further your venture. And who knows what next years weather will be like...its such a huge risk.

    1. JuGM - Yes there are other items but believe it or not they are worse than honey when it comes to getting the materials. For instance the candles I make. The cappings a burr comb from this last honey harvest might make half a candle, maybe. That and the rendered wax I also use for coating new foundation to make the bees accept it better. With 10 hives I would be lucky to get maybe three candles a year worth of excess wax.

      Of course I could buy wax. It wouldn't be a dishonest move. The candles however are a bit hard to make. Bees wax tends to crack when you try to do container candles. I could try making some actual dipped candles though.

      Either way again I would need to take a risk. It is a skill that will pay off in a grid down situation but is it worth the risk now?


  4. I found large Ball wide mouth jars of honey at one of the stores near by. $16.00 I told the wife if we don't get any this month, then next month I wanted to by two jars.

    1. Rob - What size? Local honey can sell for a huge amount over store bought. When I do sell the rare jar myself I do so now at regular grocery store prices just cause.

  5. yo, dude - i thought i already told you - all your honeys are belong to me!!!

    if i don't get a bottle of honey soon...i am coming down there with the *ss-kicking boots on. i think that is a very fair warning!

    your friend,

    1. Kymber - My dear. If it would be legal for me to mail honey over the border I would. The bee forums tell me it is illegal but if you would like for me to try....

      Wait.... Are those thigh high boots?

      HA! I dare you :)

    2. i am not sure if it is illegal or not. don't care. wants me honey!

      they are over the knee boots.

      all your honeys are belong to me - i mean it!

  6. PP,

    I'm very happy for your on your honey harvest.
    Hopefully this winter will work out well for you and your bees. The last time I was down at Whole Foods (last month) a locally harvested pure honey 24 fluid ounces went for $8.99 a jar. If you decide to sell your honey, please let me know.

  7. The local bee-keeper I buy from charges $4.25/lb with a slight discount if you buy a 5lb jar. Which I do. We love the stuff.

    Can you point me to some resources for someone who's considering bee-keeping in the future? I'm not really sure I want to manage a hive (not after reading yours and a couple other folks trials and frustrations), but we could really use more pollinating bees here....


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