bee haven is now officially closed. we reopen for our 2019 season on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12th, when our home shop will be open for business from 1-4 pm. we have no honey available for sale at this time.
2018 Season Hive and Honey Summary: A very hot, dry season that was tough on the bees. We made less honey and what we did make was less intense in its flavours. Everything’s connected, right? When plants are in drought conditions they produce less nectar. Bees have to work harder then normal to gather less nectar then they can in a season with more normal rain fall patterns. We were blessed to have some real and lasting rains in the fall that made for a full strength nectar flow for the bees from the japanese knotweed plants fall bloom. It made the most interesting honey of the 2018 season for us, full of interesting and intense flavors, as well as helping the earth return to more normal ground water levels to go into the 2019 season with. The winter came early in 2018, with several real snows in early November that remained on the ground, bringing a halt to much of the fall work we’re normally able to get done in what is usually a grey but snow free last month of fall here. Each year has been quite different then what used to be considered normal in Vermont in the past. Weather was always erratic and extreme here and now this is even more true.
Our 2018 Season Honey Crops:
Crop #1: Late July/ A Mixed Wildflower Honey: Comprised of Birdsfoot Trefoil, Alfalfa, Star Thistle and White Clover, this was a mild, more traditional flavored Vermont honey then we usually make. We’re known for our Basswood high summer crop, but the Basswood trees didn’t have a good bloom this year, drying up on the trees within a few days after opening. I’m sad that a Basswood, or Linden crop is becoming more unusual for us these days. I love this honey the best and it’s what we’re most known for. This is also the first season when our honey crops reflected the arrival of the “invasive” star thistle or knapweed plant. It’s been creeping into Vermont more in recent years and for the first time large dominant fields of it were present all over Chittenden and Addison counties. In fact, because it’s a more drought tolerant plant, a lot of our apiaries got through on this flowers nectar in this season. When we lose something, we tend to gain something else different. Star Thistle makes a lovely honey but one we just didn’t have in Vermont before the arrival of the flower to our areas. Another interesting detail about honey that contains star thistle nectar is that it crystallizes more slowly and stays a bit more gooey then raw honey that doesn’t contain its nectar.
Crop #2: Fall/ The Goldenrod, Aster and Eupatorium Honey: A light-colored, slightly cinnamon spicy honey with a slight pollen flavor. The nectar sources of this fall crop were the normal ones but the usual intensity of flavor was missing in it this year. We have the drought and heat of this summer to blame for that again. This crop has crystallized in a crunchy, granular form that some candy fans really like.
Our #3 2018 Crop - The Everlasting Gobstopper - Japanese Knotweed honey of October: Our home hives are normally used just for queen breeding endeavors, but this late September something quite different happened. After being deprived of a really good, juicy and significant nectar flow for the duration of the very dry summer season, our home hives very quickly plugged up with a super quickly-gathered honey crop over just two days of hectic back and forth nectar flights to the peaking blooms of the japanese knotweed, all up and down the riverbanks of the valley we live in. To open up the hives a bit before winter, we needed to take some of this honey out. When we tasted it, we went nuts! It’s like a concord grape juice popsicle with a hint of an elderflower cordial taste. OK, so Japanese Knotweed makes some incredibly good, exotic tasting honey! This small crop sold out fast. We’re hopeful our home hives could make more of this honey in fall seasons to come. A most memorable, special crop and after doing some research it turns out that Japanese Knotweed honey is very low on the glycemic index, as far as honeys go, making this a most appropriate honey for diabetics and others concerned about limiting their sugar intacts.