Sweet Reward from our Hatherop bees

Beekeeping is not only good for the soul, mental health and the environment, it also reaps all kinds of rewards. We all have our reasons for keeping bees, but there’s one main thing that we all look forward to: honey!

Last week those who helped manage the bees last year had an opportunity to learn how to extract the honey from the comb, first by uncapping using a knife or uncapping fork and then spinning the open frames so the honey could quite literally fly out! Then after warming and settling the extracted honey there was nothing left to do but filter out any wax and pour into jars.

Fun fact: Honey has been called the only food that truly lasts forever, thanks to its magical chemistry and the handiwork of bees. The nectar from flowers mixes with enzymes inside the bees that extract it, which changes the nectar’s composition and breaks it down into simple sugars that are deposited into honeycombs. Fanning action from the bees’ wings and the enzymes from their stomachs create a liquid that is both highly acidic and low in moisture—truly inhospitable environment for bacterial growth.

The processing and sealing of honey also adds to its indefinite shelf life. Despite being low in moisture, honey’s sugars are hygroscopic, which means that they take in moisture from the air. When the heated and strained honey is sealed properly, moisture cannot be absorbed, and the honey stays the same forever. The oldest jar of the sweet stuff ever found is believed to be 5500 years old!