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Labelling

1. Be specific. The word HONEY is required on your label.

2. All jars should have the net weight shown on the label in metric. Do not include the weight of the jar and lid. Don't rely on filling by eye. Always test your jar to be sure it is suitable for the capacity that you prefer to sell. Some jars can be larger or smaller than expected. Very few jars (excluding the 1lb and 1/2lb honey jars) are made specifically for honey and so you will find all capacities listed by ml on our website.

3. The minimum height of figures on the label must be as follows: <50g - 2mm; 50-200g - 3mm; 200g-1kg - 4mm; >1kg - 6mm

4. You can specify where your honey comes from, promoting your locality. For example, Kent Honey or Welsh Honey. This does not negate the requirement of having country of origin, which must be listed separately.

5. You can specify the type of honey, which crop it comes from so long as the honey contains at least 75% of that particular type. For example, Rape, Heather or Borage honey.

6. You must have your name and address on the label if you are selling your honey. So long as you can be found from the information, eg House Number and Post Code, the address does not need to be complete.

7. If you are selling honey through someone else, you must have a lot number and keep records relating to the batch from which the honey comes.

8. There must be a best before date on the jar. 2-5 years is standard.

Honey Extraction

A significant percentage of beekeepers start the craft and hobby of keeping bees in order to harvest honey, for themselves, for friends and family as gifts or to sell in its different forms, from jars of run honey, chunk, comb, creamed or in sections and even whole frames of uncapped honey.

Do not harvest from a hive that is undergoing treatment.

Step 1: Examine the Hives

To determine whether the honey cells have been capped - honey capping are white and  slightly crinkled in appearance. A hive with less than 80% of honey cells capped is not ready for harvest. Early harvesting can stunt future honey production.

 

Step 2: Be Mindful of the Calendar

Some northern hemisphere locations can have 3 harvests in a season. From mid-September, bees are preparing stores to carry them through the winter; in a colder climate, it is common to leave any honey in a double brood box set-up. Usually, a filled Super on a double brood can be harvested.

 

Step 3: Avoid Perfume/Cologne/Body Spray

Wearing these can attract bees.

 

Step 4: Put on Protective Gear

Honeybees are generally non-aggressive unless they feel threatened, particularly around brood.

 

  • Be sure to wear a full bee suit that includes an attached veil and hat

  • Make sure all the zips are closed in the correct order, not forgetting those at the ankle

  • A base-ball cap under the hat keeps the veil away from the face

  • If a half-suit or tunic is preferred, wear jeans or other thick fabric trousers and boots

  • Use the loops on the sleeves, over your thumbs to keep the sleeves from rucking up

  • Gauntlet style gloves that extend to the elbow are ideal, particularly for beginner

Have your smoker lit and producing a cool smoke and your tools to hand - a hive tool, bee brush and uncapping knife or  fork.

It is helpful to have another person on hand to help if needed.

Step 5: Open the Hive

Open the hive slowly and gently, without any abrupt or jerky movements - prise  any propolis glued items, such as the crownboard or adjacent frames, apart slowly.

Step 6: Removing the Bees

Some use a smoker - others believe this affects the quality of the honey. Others use a bee brush. Alternatively use bee escapes, inserted into a crown-board, between the Super and the brood chamber, in the direction you want the bees to travel and leave for 24 to 48 hours.

Step 7: Remove Frames and Supers

Place frames in a large plastic box or similar and cover between closing up one hive and opening the next. When full, move the box to your extraction workstation, where no bees or other animals can get to it. Repeat until you have all the frames you will be working. Supers can be frozen until you are ready to extract - defrost them before working.

Step 9: Set Up Your Workstation

  • Table or counter to work on

  • Honey extractor

  • 400-600 Micron Filter

  • Gloves

  • Bucket

  • Extra tub for wax cappings

  • Clean jars

  • Heated electric knife

  • Capping scratcher (optional)

  • Cheesecloth

Step 10: Uncap Honeycombs

Use a warmed uncapping knife or fork to remove caps from both sides of the honeycomb - only uncapping as many that will fit in the extractor at one time. Dip the tool in hot water to keep it warm. Another option is a heated electric uncapping knife - slice from the top of the frame downwards, moving the hot knife down slowly and carefully and not damaging the frames. Removing the wax caps from the dripping hony is straight forward - use cheesecloth to drain the honey into a bucket, leaving the cappings on top of the cloth.

Step 11: Extract Honey

An extractor is a centrifuge - place open combs in racks inside the tank, close the extractor and manually crank thye handle or switch on the power. Spin for around 4 minutes at a time. The tank will spin, forcing out the honey. It is possible to work without an extractor, however inexpensive options are available.

Step 12: Strain and Jar the Honey

Run honey through several layers of cheesecloth to remove foreign objects and debris. Leaving the result in a settling tank for a few days allows remaining debris to rise to the top and be skimmed off as well as allowing trapped air to dissipate. Store in sterillised glass jars with airtight lids.

Next - return the empty frames to the hive for the bees to clean up.

 

Granulation

Honey granulates because it is a super-saturated solution of more sugars than can normally remain in solution. Glucose is less soluable in water than fructose and in many honeys is in an unstable condition and granulates easily. Optimu granulation temperature is 13 - 15 Celsius - higher or lower temperatures reduce the rate of granulation.

Fermentation

Caused by sugar tolerant yeasts reacting with glucose and/or fructose, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.

This process is triggered when the water content of honey increases e.g. rising from 17% to 19%-20%.

Fermentation is more likely if:

  1. Honey is unripe before extraction

  2. Jars are not air-tight

  3. Honey granulates (higher water content between crystals)

To avoid fermentation: heat honey to 60 Celsius for 30 minutes (can damage some aromas). Store honey below 10 Celsius to discourage granulation and fermentation.

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Storage of Supers

To prevent Wax Moth damage

  1. Stored Dry, after being cleaned up by bees. Stack with PBD (paradichlorobenzene) and enclose in paper or plastic.

  2. Stored Wet (with honey) - these are not attractive to wax moth, so no requirement for PDB, but can become damp and mouldy. Wet Supers must be bee-proof, or they will be completely robbed and mouse-proof.

Types of Honey

Granulated Honey

  • Should have a fine texture; seed with rape or clover to get a fine grain

  • Seed to be melted until it just flows

  • 10% (seed) should be stirred into the liquid honey, so as not to create bubbles, then jarred as run honey

Creamed Honey

  • After granulated honey has set hard, heat it to 27 - 32 Celsius for 24 hours

  • When creamy, stir with a special mixing tool to avoid air bubbles and allow to re-set

Chunk Honey

  • Heat treated liquid honey, containg a piece of comb, 1" x 1" x height of jar

  • A major fault at a Honey Show is having a piece of comb that is too small

  • The liquid honey must be well filtered and 'bright' for contrast

Sections

  • For the Honey Show, Sections must be fully sealed

  • Treat wood with parafin wax before placing in the hive, so that propolis can be easily remove

  • Put Sections in the freezer to at least - 10 Celsius for 24 hours to kill Braula and wax moth eggs

  • Clean, weigh for labelling and pack

  • Packing should be specially made cardboard boxes, with built-in cellophane window on one side

  • Add the label as required by law/Honey Show rules

Cut Comb

  • Select for thickness, good cappings and no pollen

  • Cut on a flat board/counter

  • Use a Price comb cutter or large sharp knife

  • Inspect both sides and place on counter best side upwards

  • Run knife around the inside of the frame wood and lift out comb

  • Cut to required size

  • Use a spatula to transfer to a clear plastic container

  • Add label as required by law/Honey Show rules

Heather Honey (Ling)

  • This is a different process as heather honey is thixatropic and cannot be extracted by spinning

 

Honey Heating Temperatures

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