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!!!