The Season is Soon to Close
Have you all noticed those beautiful Paper Bark Trees out in flower, with their cream blossom and blissful caramel aroma? Well, my hosts have all commented that they can smell the honey from their hives from 20 metres away! This means that the bees have found a good crop of Melaleuca quinquenervia (The Paper Bark Tea Tree, pictured above).
If the Paper Bark is out in force, and the night times are getting cool, it means that we are on the ‘downhill run’ for the honey season. The bees are starting to pack down their nests with honey for warmth, and I have been very busy doing routine health inspections on every frame, in every hive, to ensure that they are in great shape heading into Winter. The bees have to eat a phenomenal amount of honey to keep their nests at a thumping 34 degrees Celsius! That’s why a responsible beekeeper should always leave plenty of honey in the hive coming into Winter. Hives can be lost simply because too much was harvest around this time of year.
Remember the cooler months bring us some beautiful honey – and also honey that can candy (granulate) very quickly. Candied honey is perfectly good. Many a customer and host preferred candied honey over the messy liquid form! In particular, Paper Bark Tea Tree honey (or honey that is predominantly made up of Tea Tree) can candy very quickly – usually within 6 weeks from extraction. If you are not a fan of this, simply place your tub in a larger container (or the sink) full of hot water from the tap. This will gently warm it until it liquefies. Give it a stir and repeat if necessary. See more on candying below.
It has been a very busy season for me and the bees at Malieta Honey. Whilst there may be some time left yet to harvest honey (if the days are nice and warm), shortly the honey extraction shed will be closed down until it warms up again. Thank you all for your support and of course, help keep Malieta Honey going buy supporting the bees! Enjoy their honey, refer a friend or join one of our workshops in the new season.
All the best,
Lionel and the Pesky Bees.
Why does honey candy?
Well, in short, the sugars in nectar (straight from the tree) are naturally ‘crystalline’ in form, combined with water. The bees add their unique enzymes to the nectar to reduce it to thick, liquid honey (down to 17% water). When the beekeeper uncaps the frame and exposes the sealed honey to oxygen again, the crystals in the honey (currently liquid in form) begin to return to their natural state (which is a solid crystal!). That’s why honey candies! There’s more science to it, but that’s the shortest way I can explain it.
Different trees naturally have different levels of ‘crystals’ in their sugars, and this explains why some honey won’t candy for a couple of years, while others candy within 6 weeks. Cooler weather can also accelerate this process, but not necessarily CAUSE it.