We don't have the room to keep bees, but even if we did, and I was prepared to put the time and effort in, I don't think I would. I LOVE the idea of it, but whenever I've read those 'Is Beekeeping For You' articles - there is one sticking point. Beekeepers get stung. (I know, I know, it makes no sense - I've given birth to two children, but I'm scared of the pain of a bee sting.)
Having resigned myself to never producing my own honey, this might be the next best thing - buying complete frames of raw comb honey, and doing my own processing.
You see, Deb and Ian at Nature Foods have just started supplying some delicious locally grown honey from 'Windy Bottom Farm'. If you haven't seen the Nature Foods website, take a look. There are all sorts of interesting, healthy, and yummy foods there. (They may not have put the honey up yet, but just enquire if you're interested.)
Some of the Windy Bottom Farm honey that they stock will be raw, some finely filtered, and some coarsely filtered - depending on what's available at the time.
I've got us some finely filtered manuka honey, some coarsely filtered kamahi honey, and of course that raw frame, which the grower says was 'collected in the Battle Hill area and so will be a mixture of pasture (clover) and bush honey, with probably also a high manuka content.' It is absolutely oozing with honey, and our entire household has been tasting the drips, and exclaiming over their heavenliness. I have no idea why, but it is so much yummier than 'ordinary' honey.
My son may have nailed it when he said, 'Actually THIS is ordinary honey, and the stuff you buy in containers in a shop isn't. That's why this is yummier.'
Well, wish me luck with my processing. These are the grower's instructions:
The raw honey can be separated from the comb by squeezing the honeycomb in your hands over a collecting vessel (bowl) and the honey will run through your fingers to the bowl and you will be left with a lump of wax in your hand. This is how it's still done in some countries in South America.
If anyone reading this has done it before and has any tips - I'd love to hear them!
The frame weighs about 3kgs. I can't wait to see how much honey and how much wax I get from it. I'm looking forward to the wax almost as much as the honey, and yes, every one will be getting home-made balms for birthday presents during 2009!