We had an exciting day last week when we extracted our very first honey from our new Grouse Mountain Beehives! The two hives we had last season are now thriving and produced 30 lbs of honey so far! We have 15 new hives this year but typically they don't produce excess honey for harvest in their first season - we let them build up and get ready for next year.
Honey is created by the bees from the nectar of flowering plants. Foraging bees collect the nectar, mix it with enzymes and store it inside the hive. Here, bees fan the nectar/enzyme mix until it dehydrates to approximately 18% moisture content. When this happens it is officially called 'honey'. At this point the bees put a wax cover on the cell to help preserve it.
Bees continually make honey as it is part of their food source - if there is lots of extra room in the hive and conditions are good enough the bees produce a lot of excess honey that isn't needed by the hive but helps fill up space and stores. This is the honey that we harvest - we always make sure we leave more than enough for the bees!
We then melt the wax coverings, spin the honey frames inside a centrifuge which extracts the honey. The honey is then filtered and finally bottled! It's an amazing process to be a part of from start to finish.
We're hoping to have some of our honey available on our dining menu's soon - stay tuned for more details!
If you want to learn more about bees and our Grouse Mountain Apiary please come along on one of our daily hive tours - details available on our wildlife page here at grousemountain.com