This is a serious question. I really want to know what you do with your honey. In the 26,000 comments currently showing on this site, very few mention where all the honey goes. Some beekeepers mention the amount they harvested, maybe 30 pounds, or 80, or 650. But what comes next?
I used to think everyone sold their honey, but I’m not so sure anymore. In fact, I think a lot of hobby beekeepers—maybe most?—don’t sell any of it. But do they eat it? Give it away? Display it on a shelf like an ornament?
Cooking with honey
I began thinking about this yesterday when I Googled “cooking with honey.” I found a lot of places, especially the big cooking websites, with tons of recipes that use honey. Listed beneath those where many sites warning about the dangers of cooking with honey. Most of the latter outlined how heat destroys the healthful properties of honey, but others warned against the production of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF).
The one that made me laugh was written by a beekeeper who pointed out that people come to him wanting to buy only raw, unpasteurized honey. They will pay a premium for a promise the honey was never heated. Then they take it home, mix it into a cake, and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes!
Personally, I’m ambivalent about cooking with honey. I seldom do it, so for that reason alone, I don’t worry about the loss of nutrients or the gain of a toxin. Sometimes I use a teaspoon of honey to proof the yeast for a loaf of bread. But like the saying reminds us, “the dose makes the poison.” The amount of HMF in that loaf of bread is minimal.
Where does it all go?
So, beekeepers, tell me what you do with it. Do you eat it plain? Bake? Drop it in tea? Do you eat it often or only occasionally?
I can start the conversation by saying we eat honey about five times a week at breakfast. It’s nearly always on a toasted English muffin with butter, and it’s always in the comb. Sometimes, I add honey to a salad at dinner—a few cubes of comb tossed together with blue cheese crumbles.
The rest usually goes as gifts to friends and family. I often give away entire frames, or sometimes little chunks of comb, depending on the situation. Some of it goes to honey tastings, pot lucks, or other social occasions. I used to sell some in bulk to businesses, but I don’t any more.
Reaching a limit
It seems to me there’s a limit to how much honey you actually want to eat. I have to admit, though, that I like looking at it. The comment I made about “ornaments” could have been directed at me. I have some gorgeous boxes of comb honey on display above the kitchen cabinets that are well over ten years old. But I like the way they look—so technically perfect.
So now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below and tell us what you do with your crop. Maybe we can inspire each other with new and creative ideas. And due to popular demand, please include your location in the name field, something like “Lisa in Sydney” will work.
Can’t wait to hear from you.
Honey Bee Suite
I’m a small beekeeper in my 3rd year. I was so happy to get about 60 jars of honey this year! I’m overjoyed. And since I cheated myself for the 1st two years because I gave away honey for others to try the product of my new hobby….(some who did NOT appreciate the high effort my little friends go to, to make it….!)…..I’m KEEPING THIS BATCH only for my family to enjoy!!!!
Good for you, Lea! Enjoy! I know the feeling when someone doesn’t appreciate the effort the bees put into it.
This is only our second year so not an over whelming amount of honey and have given about half away and will give away more. It would be nice to sell it but there is local honey for sale everywhere.
Thanks, Dave. Not many replies yet, but so far it’s going the way I expected: lots of honey being given away.
And thanks for the location!
I never expected to get any honey at all, so when my 2 nucs produced 1 1/2 gallons of honey, I bought pint jars and labels (from Zazzle) and gave honey to all of my neighbors and local friends as thanks for their support and interest in my bees. It was such a joy to see their pleasure with the gifts! I have about 5 jars left for us to enjoy.
A jar for the neighbors is always a good move. It can take the sting out of the next sting.
Aside from what I save in a freezer to feed splits…mead!!
And what’s not made in to that is mostly given away or made into sandwiches.
Mead. Hmm. Forgot about that!
I give nearly 100% of my honey as gifts. I always have a jar for home personal use. I like to craft with the beeswax.
Do you have any good tricks for rendering beeswax? I’m always looking for a better method. I just keep ruining one more pot.
I am the Chief Beekeeper for the O’Fallon, IL Community Garden Apiary. We have 4 hives now, having started our apiary in 2014, built by a Boy Scout for his Eagle Scout project. This is the third year we have harvested honey. To date all of the bottled honey, 12 oz. PLASTIC BEARS, containing raw, non-pasteurized honey, has been sold to members of the O’Fallon Community Garden Club members
Some buy it to help with their allergies to ragweed or goldenrod, some buy it for holiday gifts to friends and relatives, and some of us buy it to eat daily so as to benefit from all the good things in honey.
FYI: There was a national competition for honey from all 50 states this year and Illinois was selected the winner for 2017. I am sure many a beekeeper will take exception to that, but that is what that day’s competition determined. Who will win in 2018?
“Enjoy Honey, Beecause it’s good for you!”
Congratulations to you, your community garden, and all Illinois beekeepers. Sounds like fun.
Absolutely, Rusty. We are very grateful for your many years of beekeeping in our NW USA and creating and sustaining the honeybeesuite.com website. The information on your website and in your archives have proved invaluable to our success as beekeepers. As we say to all we meet here in SW Illinois “Bee Smart and Save the Pollinators”.
The URL you typed in “September blooms for pollinators” is showing a 404 error (not found). So I deleted it. Sorry.
This is my first year getting a crop of honey. I have several jars sitting in my cupboard. I have a few friends interested in purchasing a jar. I gave a few jars as gifts. Depending on what I have left over afterward I will probably start a new batch of mead!
I’m guessing there are more mead makers than I thought.
I eat honey every day on oatmeal, peanut butter and honey, on my cornflakes, etc. So good!!!!!!
I never tried it on cornflakes. Sounds good.
We are quite small scale, with 13 colonies. When we have surplus honey, we sell to our friends and family, as well as to my small-business clients (I do computer tech, too). South of Minneapolis, we are in primarily agricultural area, with lots of diversity — 6 hives are on 250 acre organic dairy farm, and 7 are on 100 acre organic hobby farm, in Scott County, MN.
In 2014 & 2015, we harvested apprx 350 lbs, from 8 hives (5 did not produce surplus). Last year I was primary care-giver for my dying mother, and lost my focus on the bees, and the mites and lack of attention caused the demise of my hives. (Double whammy. We lost Mom and the bees)
We started back with 13 packages this spring, and ended up with about 100lbs to sell and keep.
I like a tablespoon before bedtime, it balances out blood sugar, and I sleep better. I don’t like to put it my tea, but my wife really does. Not much cooking with honey. Mostly by spoonful, and on peanut butter and honey toast.
Sounds like your bees have great forage.
Sorry about your mom.
Hi Rusty, I sell my honey out the front door to strangers who become friends. I love being the town’s honey lady. I also make a cold remedy of sorts by adding essential oils to honey and that stuff flies out the front door during cold and flu season. And then, in the end, I also let my husband make some into mead when I just can’t deal with the crystallized stuff anymore!
Kari! What a great idea! I never thought of using the crystallized stuff for mead. I knew I would learn something from this. Thanks.
And isn’t it funny how we all become “honey ladies?”
We sell some, eat some, and give some away as gifts.
You’ve got it covered.
I take about 30-50 pounds and ultimately most of it goes as gifts – Christmas gifts, teacher appreciation gifts, keeping some close friends in honey and so on. It doesn’t use it all up, but doesn’t really leave me enough to sell it with any consistency – so I’m trying my hand at mead making. I do have a jar that holds about 25 pounds in the dining room as an ornament, until it is time to jar it.
Good! I’m glad someone else has an ornament. I was beginning to worry.
I’ve had four years of honey harvest of 48.5 lbs, 88.5 lbs, 44 lbs, and basically 0 lbs this year after the coldest wettest spring on record for the northwest corner of Connecticut. (My three overwinter colonies swarmed and failed to requeen. My starter colonies are still being fed, fed, fed.)
I give away honey to family and friends and healthcare staff. Also to fill potluck obligations. I had to warn everyone about the bad year for my bees, because they do all seem to quickly come to expect it. Occasionally people have asked about buying some, but I always say I can’t afford to sell it ‘cause it’s costing me like $80 a pound (or whatever my current estimate is).
That said, the only person I’ve given honey to more than once per harvest is the only person who returns the jars. Just sayin’.
Oh and I still have honey left from my three previous harvests (shhh, don’t tell all our friends and relations). I put it on bread, I chew it with the wax, my partner makes jerky with it, I almost never cook with it, I make my favorite tripledecker peanut butter, jelly, & honey sandwiches with it, and I eat it with a spoon.
Also, I used my non-existent harvest as an excuse to buy honeys from others, including the poison oak honey that YOU forced me to get. (And by “forced me to get” it’s possible I mean “casually mentioned in passing”.)
I am not yet as wide as a house.
You had me laughing so hard my husband came running in here to see what was wrong. I love the line, “I can’t afford to sell it…” So true. I never add it up. Never, never. I don’t want to know how much it’s costing me.
Then too, the jars. Mine are square glass containers for cut comb. No return. No more honey. That’s the rule.
And I too use those lean years to experiment. I have a whole jar of avocado honey that is totally black. I thought buckwheat was dark, but this stuff is crazy dark. But I love those try-its. Com’ on, the poison oak was worth it, right?
Okay I admit it, the poison oak honey was totally worth it. But the 8/16 (extra dry?) pumpkin alfalfa honey from the same website was INCREDIBLY delicious.
I blame you for that one, too.
Oh no! I’ve never heard of that! Maybe I’m going to blame you.
I bought some poison oak honey a couple of years back and thought it was quite good. The best part was that my husband won’t touch it so it was all mine!
Last year was a wonderful year for honey. I sold a fair amount to co-workers, friends and neighbors, gave away a couple gallons, and dramatically increased my honey intake, tea for me at night, coffee for my wife in the morning. The best thing was a fresh pitcher of lemonade with our honey and fresh lemons every weekend during summer. And for the first time had some comb honey produced that I don’t want to give away or sell. I’m hoarding it. Love your site, thanks for the inspirations.
I made lemonade a bunch of times this past summer and never thought of using honey. You see, I need you guys to set me straight!
Glad to hear about the comb honey. Check out the November issue of American Bee Journal for a new comb honey article.
Ooh, good question. Well I definitely eat a lot of my honey but the majority of it is for selling. That’s my profession so I’m learning how to make a living at it. I like the bee part of the business but I have a lot to learn in the marketing department.
Yes, marketing can be difficult but you will learn as you go along. At least honey is on everyone’s mind these days, so I’m sure you will do great.
Ha! I rarely sell it, since no one in their right mind would pay what I think it is worth!
I cut clean comb, pack it in containers, and figure out what to do with it later. The scraps and not-so-pretty stuff I crush & strain, and put in jars. I will bestow my honey harvest upon those deemed “worthy” as gifts; spent comb from straining gets saved for the swarm traps.
We mostly put it on the hot-out-of-the-oven french bread I bake, over hunks of cold butter. Also good for a favorite cold remedy called Fire Tea (honey, lemon juice, ginger, cayenne, turmeric).
Then again, don’t overlook honey on a spoonful of peanut butter . . .
Yes, there is something about peanut butter and honey. And bread and honey. And butter and honey.
I’m just starting out with a single hive this year, with hopes to expand to 3 hives next year with a double nuc for making some of my own queens. My bees haven’t had much time to pack the hives or draw out all the non-foundations frames I hope to get going so I haven’t harvest anymore than 1 frame from my hive this year to just “try” what my bees have been packing away. I have a large Linden tree right over my hive that they had literally climbed over and covered this spring, so I wanted to sample what a newly drawn comb honey would taste like from that tree’s nectar. Wow it tasted like orange blossom honey. I cut four squares of cut comb from the frame. One for me, one for the neighbors who watches my ducks when I travel, one for a friend who lost his mother this year, and one for my parent to sample.
I like mine on peanut butter and honey sandwiches just straight comb honey slathered on toasted or untoasted bread with PB. Sometimes I splurge and put banana slices on it too. I use honey in baking and just eating plain. I toss it in fruit salad and I’ll make some mead at some point. When I finally get some steady production, I’ll sell it at local farm markets with all my exotic herbs from my garden (Three types of basil, rosemary, parsley, cilantro, lemon grass, thyme, oregano, kieffer lime leaves, etc). For now I’m just enjoying the arts and crafts of my bees. 🙂
Hopefully next year will be 20-30 lbs of honey and then we start to try to make the bees a little more self-supporting of a hobby.
Herbs and honey. I like it!
Come on, ya’ll! Put your town and state next to your name when you post!
I use most of my honey for sex. I don’t have excess.
Just curious, but how much honey was that?
I don’t kiss and tell. I am surprised that a woman of your refinement would ask.
I do lots with my honey! I carry about 10 hives and harvest 400-600 lbs annually. I live in the Northwest. I gift about 20-25 lbs a year. Starting last year I began making mead and use upwards of 100 lbs to make 20-25 gallons of Sac Mead and several Melolmels. The rest I will sell. I sell 1 and 3lb jars to my private network and am in several tea shops. I have several business that buy from me and put their corporate label on it to give it to their customers for Christmas. That about cleans me out and more than pays for the hobby beekeeper turned sideliner….lol!
Wow, that’s nice. I’m really surprised how many people make mead. We do both beer and wine here, but we’ve never tried mead.
I guess we should. I like selling honey to businesses, but my supply isn’t very reliable from year to year.
There is a little store down the street from me which loves selling my very LOCAL honey. Also, I have neighbors who come to the door asking for honey. Being an urban beekeeper, I only have 4 honey producing hives at the most, so it’s not hard to sell strained honey. But I also give away strained and comb honey for presents.
I save 50% of my harvest to feed back to my colonies, swarms, and new splits in the next spring. Of the remainder, I keep about half for my own consumption (cooking, tea, coffee sweetener) and gifts.
Thinking of your bees. That’s good!
We got honey for the first time this year. We got 2 pint jars and 24 1/2 pint jars. That came from our hive that we’ve had for 2 years. We requeened it last spring because we are new to this and thought it had swarmed and had no queen. The other hive was new. New package. They had honey in their deep boxes, but nothing in the honey box on top so we just took off the honey box and opted to wait until next year.
As for what we do with it? I gave a jar to my granddaughter, one to my daughter, sending 2 to my brother in NC. giving another to a friend. I kept 12 of the small jars and my son kept 12. So basically giving it to people. I’m not sure what he’s doing with his. Can you use it to make beer? LOL. I make honey mustard and put it in stuff, but don’t typically use a lot of it. We started the hives as a way to get bees to help pollinate the hops and the fruit trees and other stuff we have growing around here. It’s kinda neat to get honey. How do you get yours in the comb? I thought that would be cool, but think it requires them to build the comb as opposed to using the preformed ones.
I did set the extracted frames somewhat near the hives so they could clean them off. We’ll use those as a start next year to save the bees the trouble of making the wax.
We’re in northeastern Illinois. IL/WI border near Lake Geneva. 75 miles NW of Chicago.
Your son could make mead with it, but he would need a lot more than 12 small jars. Oh well.
Yes, to get honey in the comb you have to let the bees build the comb and then fill it. It’s heavenly, though. Because they need to make new comb every year, you don’t get as much honey, but to me it’s worth it.
Give most away as presents for Christmas and birthdays. Bring on my travels and share with other beekeepers from different parts of the world. Give to neighbors. Sell to a handful of regulars. Use on toast with peanut butter for grandkids. Use it on oatmeal. Nothing creative, I’m afraid!
Still, it all sounds like fun and that’s the point.
This was our first year with 2 new hives. We harvested a little over 24.5 lbs and still left honey for the girls. Over half of the honey was given to friends, family, neighbors, mailman, hairdresser, and just about everyone we came in contact with. The rest we sold with the exception of the little we kept for eating.
That’s a nice amount for new hives. It’s not overdoing it, yet you get something for your efforts.
The first of the harvest goes to my neighbors. Bottles are saved for family gifts and a very short list of dear friends. My doctor, a dear friend, is all about the comb honey and he always gets a gift of it. If there is bountiful harvest, I will sell it. My manicurist goes crazy for comb honey! A few jars get saved for my husband and me for use in tea, breakfast smoothies and drizzled on yogurt. I do not bake with my own honey. It’s too precious for that. Sadly, there will be lots of disappointed people this year. Central Ohio.
I remembered that you make comb honey. I’m glad you have friends that enjoy it. I have a new dentist this year who is really into comb honey. I gave some to him and his entire office staff.
Mary Lynn and I harvested about 400 lbs (180 kgs) this year. We sold about 1/2 of that to friends in about 2 days using email and Facebook to alert everyone. The remainder we keep for ourselves and family. We give 3 KG to each of our 4 kids, 2 brothers, 2 Mums and some other family members. We keep about 5 dozen in small “honey bear” jars and they make great hostess gifts. When we go for dinner we’ll bring a bottle of wine and a small jar of honey and it’s most appreciated. Mary bakes with honey a lot so we use maybe 9 or 12 kgs every year ourselves between baking and tea and toast.
I know you don’t focus on the harvest but I say, “Why do all that work if you don’t get some honey for it!”
Well, Andy, sometimes I don’t focus on the harvest because there’s no harvest to focus on. Last year, I didn’t harvest a drop. This year, I kept building extra honey supers all season long. Never had enough. So, I sort of roll with it. Whatever it is, it is.
I keep two hives (top bar) and as a reward for pollinating my garden, I give all the honey to the bees.
That’s cool. My top-bar bees get to keep all their honey too.
I use honey to make a remedy for coughs. Add fresh coltsfoot flowers to a jar of honey and let sit for 6 weeks. It stops the cough. Also, for sore throats try mixing honey with fresh sage leaves, wait 6 weeks and strain. So nice when feeling low. The honey hydrates the throat and the herbs help!
Also, I mix honey with slippery elm bark powder to make a lozenge that is soothing for throats and digestive tract-really nice.
I’m going to have to try all these suggestions. I’ve never done any home remedies, but I’m willing to give it a try.
Its a great feeling when you get to harvest honey after spending the money and time taking care of the bees. I have 3 hives that started off in March that swarmed and ended up with 10 hives, with only one and half providing honey. How did everyone handle their hives (swarming) to harvest their haul? I gave some away and some I sold to help with expenses. Swarming did me in and I rotated the hive bodies and the queens were only 2 years old. Rusty if you don’t want to publish this since its a little off subject, no problem.
We have used much of our honey as gifts. This year some was entered into the local fairs on frames and in jars, all showing amazingly well (entered by my daughter, from her hive in the 4-H shows). We have sold some, and hope to sell a LOT once it is all jarred up and spiffy for xmas. Great conversation always results any way it goes!
I was wondering if anyone was going to mention honey shows. That’s neat.
I love honey bees and their honey. A rainbow of colors and tastes from spring to autumn, from bright yellow to dark red knotweed honey and stinky goldenrod. We had the uncapping tank in the kitchen and my six-year-old grandson grabbed my sneakers off the floor and ran outside and threw them waaay out in the yard thinking that I had the smelly sneakers! The nerve! 😉
The uncapping tank is now out of sight and smell when people come in to fill their jars. We sell honey from our driveway also using the honor system and local markets with the observation hive for education. We sell chunk honey, creamed honey, comb honey and liquid honey. Honey is used in my coffee every day, on my grandkids toast every morning to medicinal uses and allergies. We give our honey to widows/widowers, our Pastor, and women who swear by how wonderful their complexion is as a result of slathering it directly on their face. You know the kind, “How old do you think I am? I don’t look 55 do I” ? Really? The complexion looks great but… I grow herbs and add it to our home honey for specific recipes. Nothing very creative just a basic staple in the pantry.
You are really funny. I’ve met that woman and her complexion, the one who is 55 and doesn’t look a day past 60!
My partner and I are newbee beeks. We started this year with one nuc and we have diligently not taken any honey in the first year, except for about a pound and a half that I harvested from a chunk of comb that they drew out below the frame. It’s delicious! Everything else is in the freezer now in anticipation of their winter needs.
Our plan, once we get through the winter: mead and give away to family and friends.
Yep, I love those pieces of stray comb.
Thanks for your website and especially the index.
WOW that has got to be the most comments for the time frame and a great bunch of replys.
I am new and have one hive mostly sharing what I have harvested with family and friends. I also do maple syrup and sell about 50 liters per year and share the rest with family and friends.
Bees swarmed twice the last week of August and went back to the hive. Why, well somebody said the queen was too heavy to fly??? Really!!! Well the next time they left for good. Hard to find a queen on Sept 10. Got one and have two good frames of honey and capped brood. Hopefully we will make it through our snow cold windy long and high humidity winter. I am making a moisture quilt per your comments tomorrow.
Someone uses my index? Way cool. I put a lot of work into it but sometimes I wonder if anyone pays attention.
It is possible the queen wasn’t ready to fly. The workers usually run the queens around the comb for a couple weeks and reduce her feed before they try to swarm. If the queen isn’t with them, they will return and try again later. Sometimes, though, they lose her in the grass and weeds, or she gets eaten.
I saw swarms return twice this year. I usually go in and split right away, if I’m lucky enough to have them return.
SORRY about the spelling RUSTY
Coincidental that I would read your blog this evening as this afternoon I used up over thirty pounds of honey to make 5 gallons of Sweet Show Mead and 5 gallons of Fall’s Bounty Cyser, recipes from Ken Schram’s book, The Compleat Meadmaker. If you decide to get into mead making, his book is a must have. A delightful read with excellent recipes and ideas to keep you busy with your excess honey for years.
Thanks, Heather. I will order a copy.
Me and my family, we eat some, sell 50%, and some gifts to our close friends&relatives.
✋️Eating including ((Multiple treatment purposes)).
In my 12 years of ? keeping, we have never sold a drop. We probably average around 50 lbs annually. (Last yr. 0) with about 10 hives. The coast is not a great place for honey production. We give it to relatives, neighbors, club, friends, (in that order) and eat a lot.
Mead from the crystallized honey is a great idea. (I also learned something) Too bad I don’t drink. Ha. But with the small surplus we harvest, how to get rid of it is not a serious problem.
Love your site!
I gather a little from my top bar hives for morning toast or peanut butter and honey sandwiches. I also like a spoonful before bed to help me sleep and dream the night away. I leave all the rest in the hives for my bees to enjoy and share with their own colonies.
We are just a small operation. We have harvested as little as 40 pounds and as much as 750 pounds. We have given it all away as gifts or eaten it except for the year we got 750. We had so much in bottling costs we had to sell some of it that year. We have honey in our tea, on our oatmeal; we use it to make granola; we trade it for things like maple syrup; we have it in our fruit smoothies in the morning; we eat it on toast; we sometimes just eat it!
MEAD for sure. We have been keeping bees for a few years now, only 1-3 hives. But we have one hive that has survived for 3 yrs now and has given up a super of yummy honey each year. (I did keep the honey from my dead out hives also, still tasted really good).
I tried my hand at mead 2 yrs ago and entered some in the fair last summer. !st, 2nd and 3rd place for my first ever meads!!! Needless to say I have several abrewing right now. The rest goes into our tummy’s and of course family even tho keeping bees is now an extended family affair.
We were lucky to catch three swarms and retrieve 4 hives from buildings before they were to be torn down this summer all of which we shared with family. So far all but two have survived and are doing great. I have to admit that our hives have been a lot of fun and also anxiety at times this year. I am still learning, but your site is definitely a HUGE resource to me and thank you!!!!
You are so welcome, Bonnie.
I try to keep only five hives. I have determined that I never want to work more than 5-6 supers per year, this gives me 45-50 quarts and about 5-6 frames of my best honey for comb honey containers. I’ve borrowed a centrifuge in the past but this year determined crush and strain is the way to go. I would have trouble asking what it is worth, and I refuse to sell to anyone, especially cheapos who have no idea what they are getting. My wife says it’s okay to not sell because it is a rewarding hobby, “it’s cheaper than therapy “. We take great pride in giving away 85% to friends and family (who appreciate what they are given) for good will and karma. I tell them all not to tell anyone else, just enjoy. We don’t have company often, but when we do they are often subjected to a taste test, the finest foodies would approve of. A gourmet cracker w/ a slice of fine cheddar, topped with different colors and vintages of comb honey. My goal is to make my guests feel truly special, an experience to remember. I love our bees, and take great pride in making those on the receiving end feel special, including me and my family. It can be hard to enjoy a hobby I try to make money with.
You are definitely speaking my language: aged cheese, whole grain crackers, and comb honey. Nothing could be better.
We are new beekeepers. After one full year we harvested about 30 pounds of honey & gave almost 100% away to friends, neighbors & family. I love our honey, & LOVE looking at it, so I did keep one jar & add it to my mint tea about twice a week.
Great question, and nice answers.
We never sell. I agree that it would take hundreds of dollars per jar to recoup our costs. This year we had a good harvest from only two of our hives, about 50 or 60 lbs. Made for some great photos, and our eldest grandson (4.5 yrs) loves to help bottle by controlling the honey gate.
None of us had used much honey before my obsession started. Now my wife enjoys toasted fork-split Thomas English muffins with peanut butter, honey and banana slices (shout-out to MB from Ohio!). I have enjoyed a daily cup of Earl Grey with lemon and sugar since college, but have substituted honey for sugar. If I am making dough for pizza with a short time-frame I add some honey as you had mentioned (but not if I have enough time for a slow refrigerated ferment.)
Rick Bayless has a phenomenal recipe for baby-back ribs with chipotle in adobo sauce and honey, which requires ⅔ cup per recipe. http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/recipe?id=11152425 Amazing. Most of our honey goes to all the neighbors in HR and Seattle, and family. Like Pharaoh on Moses’ recommendation, I keep some in storage for the years when the mites change my harvest plans. I have been looking up recipes, but none use 60 lbs! Jamaican Jerk chicken, etc. Always a couple of jars as edible ornaments on the kitchen ledges where the sun can shine through.
Thanks, Daniel. A lot of “food for thought” in your post.
Rusty, you inspired me to do cut-comb honey this year and it is all in the freezer to be presents to the family ‘Elders’ this year. They may be the ones to appreciate it the most, a little blast from their past. Thanks for that inspiration!
I do give most of my honey away, at this point anyway. It is deeply satisfying to hear the appreciative remarks, the occasional deep sigh.
I have several jars of higher moisture honey destined for my first batch of mead. I have been a home brewer and wine maker so this seems a natural progression.
Thank you again for your inspiring blog.
near Drayton Valley, Alberta
115W, 53N, El.850M
I’m so happy about the comb honey. I know it will be appreciated, especially by those who grew up with it.
I follow your comments on BEE-L with interest, so it works both ways.
PS I forgot to mention that we used at least two frames of harvested or dead out’s honey for each of the hives we captured this summer to help them get started plus I still have 7-8 frames worth in reserve for the bee’s just in case.
Good for you. I always like to keep frames in reserve, and I almost always need them at some point.
In my fifth year, usually we give them for xmas gifts to the neighbor, church fund raisers and our children. We use it for ourselves as well. Tomorrow morning we do the extractor process. First time, I have been paying someone else to do this. But this time a group of our friends are going to share an extractor and do it ourselves.
You will have a fun (and messy) day.
I am a backyard beekeeper. I have 5 hives and got 19 gallons. We sell a little but most we give away. We live 15 miles from the Oregon coast (Florence), in a big city (500) people, Mapleton Ore. I do a lot of fishing, salmon, tuna, haliut, steelhead. I start fighting mites in late August. I do mite boards all year. Larry
So Larry, I imagine salmon with honey-mustard sauce.
A good portion of my honey is gifted. And now the odd part. Folks know that I don’t have a lot of honey so I get calls all the time well in advance of harvest time. People want to buy the entire honey crop sight unseen. The last time I sold an entire crop was to a man in Rhode Island. He never had tasted it but some how had heard about it. I sent the whole crop to him and he was happy to pay for priority USPS shipping. We are talking a lot of money here. He called a year later and wanted another entire crop. I told him it was already spoken for- a man who lived only 25 miles away bought it for his wife after her allergy symptoms completely vanished when she got a jar of my honey from a friend who had some. She would have some every day and believed that the honey was what dispatched her allergies. Some say it tastes like mint, others say it definitely tastes like citrus, and some say its herbal. Hard for me to describe it but I am guarding the crop closely this year and letting very little get away from me. I will eat all of it myself this time.
So cool to sell it all at once. Way less time consuming for you, but you have to remember to keep some for yourself!
We harvested 75 lbs from 2 hives this year. We harvested twice, with about 36-37 lbs each time. Both hives still have 2 full honey supers as well as a brood box. We wrap our hives in the winter, and feed pollen patties beginning in January. Last year we split our hive and gave away 3 queen cells to the gal who helped us split the hive. Her hives were thriving the last I talked with her. We know another beekeeper who lost their hive to moths, so if we need to split again, we can share queens with her as well.
We use honey for many many things….a daily dose to help allergies, cooking and as gifts to others.
My urban back yard hive thrives all year round in our temperate climate. Overwintering is not a big thing as there is a continuous nectar supply and we are free of many pests and diseases including varroa. I love learning about my hive and sharing info and honey with others, but it is a costly hobby so after a year of giving most of it away I’ve started labeling it and charging a small amount to remunerate my costs and invest in upgrading equipment. Everyone so far has been thrilled to contribute and I don’t end up resenting the time and energy it takes to harvest.
I love runny honey on fresh baked bread, but I don’t cook many sweet dishes requiring it. I have been clogging up our drinks fridge (much to my family’s despair) with the wax cappings that I plan to refine and make candles – as Xmas gifts. Thanks for your site Rusty – I love it ?
We have only sold one gallon a to friend so our children. Never got paid. What we have, we eat, give to family, gift to friends and feed back to “the girls”. I know now that I am a beekeeper. The one colony we have is hugely successful. Not a ton of honey but zillions of bees. Why do I know I am a beekeeper? Because now I am near panic that, with such a huge population, they will starve this winter.
Never underestimate the power of negative thinking.
PS Our captured swarm never did well and died out after a few months. It is what it is.
I predict your colony will do fine. Just remember that big colonies eat a lot. Watch them closely, especially just before the spring flow.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with pests, so we haven’t harvested in the last couple of years. But when we do (or when we remove a hive from somebody’s yard) I make sure the closest neighbor gets a nice jar, give some to my elderly mother, and some to (really good) friends. We keep some for eating, but brew mead with much of the rest. When we have crushed comb, we rinse the comb and use the honey-water as part of the mead. If we have to boil juice for the mead the honey gets added after it cools.
I don’t often cook with honey–I’m with you in using only a little for the taste.
The wax goes to yet another friend who does brass casting.
Wash water (honey water) is something else I forgot about. I’ve heard that some beekeepers save it in the fridge for cooking. Other people use it for making sugar syrup. Using it in mead sounds perfect.
Like most others I give lots away – but I have to say that the best way is fermentation. Meade is my favorite and I mean the wine – not the ale. I have a problem using brood to increase the proteins for heading – (I learned this from an old beekeeper/meade ale brewer – it works and tastes great). Caution!!!!! Most folks don’t know that the fastest way to a killer hangover is to drink young Meade wine as there are so many fusil oils and other long chain fatty acids that it rips your brain apart. The secret is five years. After this time the wine is mellow and incredible – just wonderful. It speaks of warm summer days when you have it with a perfectly cellared heirloom apple in February. A few years back I had the incredible experience of giving my son and his new bride a bottle of 20 year old meade he helped me brew. This is the stuff of honeymoons and memories.
Sounds heavenly and romantic. So interesting!
First let me say that I really enjoy reading your blog and have learnt a lot from it.
As for my honey, I keep some for my family and some to give as gifts and the rest I sell to try to pay for my equipment costs. As I increase my hive numbers the aim is to be able to make a profit…… but that’s still a way off! I don’t use it much in cooking but do love it spread on a nice piece of bread.
Thank you, Maree!
G’day Rusty (said with a typical Oz accent!),
Last season in this area was dismal at best. Cold, wet prolonged “spring” followed by cooler than usual summer. 5kg surplus for us from 5x 8 frame Langstroth hives, but 20kg in capped frames kept to give back. We are now well into a wonderful spring, things are going gangbusters.(hooray!)
The backyard bee group I belong to, @YarraValleyBeeGroup, has a honey co-op. Club members sell any surplus to the co-op for $10/kg, which is then sold to the public for $20/kg at spring and autumn fairs run by a local environmental organisation @yarravalleyecoss.
Personally, we have many friends/co-workers and associates clamouring for what they call “real” honey.
One person in particular requests candied honey only, as verification that it is untreated apart from straining.
PS: many thanks for your articles, they are a great resource!
I can hear the accent, plain as day.
The co-op is a neat idea. A nice way to maintain the environment for the bees (and people, too.)
We have two hives in a large, common garden we share with 10 neighbors. When we harvest, we share with our neighbors to keep them happy. They have been very supportive and even plant bee-friendly flowers. We keep some for the bees to have in spring if they need it. We keep some for ourselves. I use the wax for my art (encaustic painting).
Good neighbors like that are a valuable asset. Keep them happy!
For the past three years I have not extracted any honey from my hives. I let my girls keep it for their stores to get through the winter as a way of improving the health of my bees naturally and if there is any surplus I give it to young colonies that have not managed to store enough. I believe that bees cannot live on sugar syrup alone just like we cannot live on bread and water alone. I wouldn’t be surprised if the removal of honey and the replacement of it with sugar syrup (and therefore devoid of vitamins, minerals and proteins) is one of the reasons why bee health has declined. Saying that if all of my hives have enough to get through the winter and more, I dare say I will extract some! But for me, the bees come first.
I am happy that you and so many others are concerned about giving the bees what they deserve. So many here have mentioned the years when there was no surplus, so it doesn’t sound like they are taking all the honey and replacing it with syrup. This is one awesome group of beekeepers here, and I thank all of you for putting the bees first.
I eat some every day, raw, in my porridge or desserts, either grossly filtered or in the comb. I give some away to my friends and family and I keep some to give back to the bees if needed, on the comb.
I would like to add that I only take half of their surplus honey after winter, at the beginning of spring when they start foraging again as I consider honey to be the bees’ food, not mine. This year was particularly good and they were left with a lot of surplus honey. I have two national hives, one colony is very big and has 4 supers full of honey to spend winter with. I have two colonies and sometimes I will take one super full of honey from the big colony to give to the small colony to make sure it will survive winter.
The first batch we bottle and give to neighbors and friends, family, we also give honey as gifts for special occasions. Whatever is left, we keep on the kitchen counter until it builds up a nice congested area and then we give back to the bees, we crystalize it and just put the jars back in the hives for the bees to store. Also, we store some for years the bees may not make any honey, this way, they will have something in years of draught and bad forage. Since honey doesn’t go ‘bad’, one can store it forever. People seem to love getting it as a gift, People are always knocking on the door wanting a honey product, and we don’t even have a sign out on the road ! They smell it and it lures them in .. ha ha ! Nice post ! very creative and different ! a ‘fun’ post !
Thank you, Debbie.
Love bees, love honey, eat every day in the winter on oatmeal with wild blueberries, great
use last fall. Honey in spring for allergies works great if you have allergies.
Very poor harvest this year. This summer we’ve had a lot of rain in the north of Scotland. I’ve used half-pound jars to eke out the supply which I give away. It does travel though, a visitor has taken some home to Hawaii. I bet my bees would have loved to have accompanied it!
Those bad years happen. Last year I harvested nothing, but this year I more than made up for it.
We got about 170 lbs this year – in Buckinghamshire, UK. That is, 3 colonies providing around 30lb and one providing over 70lb! Very hot spring followed by a very wet summer.
I usually give a jar to anyone who is brave enough to let me show them my bees up close and personal!
I collected a couple of swarms last year which were productive this year and I give a couple of jars to the person who provided the swarms – I also name the queen after them and label the honey ‘Queen xxxx’!
I go on a week’s jazz summer school and give the tutors and organisers a jar each as a ‘thank you’.
We probably eat nearly a jar a week across our family (my wife and I and our two departed children). The rest we sell to friends and neighbours. I price it around the price of supermarket honey – so people can enjoy the ‘real thing’ and offset some of the cost of my hobby.
A chap at our bee club is very enthusiastic on getting support for competitions, so I also put by a few jars to go to the club, county and national honey shows – but I do get those back!
Have 5 hives at a place called Eagles Wings where they take care of adult Down syndrome people. I extract honey there and let them help with the full operation. I let them taste the honey. I bottle it up and give it to them to sell so they have $ to take care of these adults. What a joy for me.
Nice, Vince. Sounds like fun.
A slightly warm coffee cup of water 1/2 full. Mix some honey and vinegar to taste. Good for digestion, etc.
I live in Indiana. This year’s harvest (4th year as a beekeeper) provided me with enough honey to consider selling it on a larger scale than just word of mouth or among friends. When I began the process of selling to the general public, for me it became almost too much “red tape” to comply with all the health department regulations for our state. I’m restricted to roadside stands and farmers markets with proper labeling on my honey. I am like you as far as displaying my honey in various styles of jars, I love making comb honey, chunked honey, creamed honey, honey straws, and various other items “from the hive” such as lip balm, molded beeswax shapes, etc.
This year I decided to harvest heavy from the spring honey and leave the bees with all their fall honey.
So what do I do with my honey:
Leave much of it in the hive.
Sell about half of what I harvest.
Give as gifts to friends and family.
Display a few jars for my own satisfaction.
This is my 9th year and was my best with about 20 gallons/250lb. In the past and now we do give away a good amount to family, friends, mailman, doctors and yes my dentist. I do sell to people who know me but have yet to try to keep a store supplied with it as I am never sure if I will have enough to meet their demands. I use 8oz, 10oz and 1lb glass jars. I do bake with it, my wife uses in her coffee and I like to do tastings with friends who come letting them compare other honey that seems to come my way as gifts from around the world. Of course I leave what I think is plenty on the hives but for the most part I probably sell 50%, give 40% and use 10% of the total. I am not sure I will be able to keep that percentage up this year as I harvested about twice what I normally get here in northwest Virginia. I may have to sell more. I do seem to have 2-3 gallons left each spring from the previous harvest.
We use our honey on toasts, pancakes, with yogurt, and to sweeten tea or milk sometimes. We also eat it straight from the jar (my partner always ‘tastes’ the honey with a spoon before using it on anything, that’s how most honey is eaten around here!). Sometimes in a salad sauce.
We give away to friends and family a significant part of the production, about half of around 60-70 500-gram jars this year. We keep the rest and eat it raw!
We don’t eat much honey. Most of it we sell or give away to friends and family. And it’s very useful for bartering 🙂
Bartering is something I forgot about. I’ve traded honey for a number of different things.
I sell it at my farm stand and can’t keep up with the demand. Comb, jarred, and jars with both honey and comb.
I also hold back a full super for each hive. I put it on after the fall meds, right before adding a feeding shim with fondant and winter patties on top.
Mine are all from topbar hives and I make a lot of splits for newbees so I don’t harvest too much. When I do, it gets shared as “samples” in my topbar hive beekeeping classes.
The one or two bottles of liquid honey, I keep for myself to mix with the bee pollen that I take every day for my arthritis. Works great.
An excellent question and one that I too have been wondering about. We are third year beekeepers in northwest Wisconsin. Our first year we had a small harvest of honey, enough for ourselves and family. Last year we harvested a little more than the first year. I gave away and sold to a few friends. This year, our girls went crazy (one overwintered hive and two new packages) we harvested approximately 480 lbs. Oh my! What should we do with all this honey. (We also left two deeps and a medium super full on the hive for winter food.) So this year, I have taken some to local businesses to sell on consignment, advertised Honey for Sale on Facebook and will try to get creative and use/sell for Christmas gifts. I’m also was going to get creative on using it for baking, but after reading your post, I am wondering if it is safe. Maybe we will make some mead…..does anyone have a good recipe or tips on making mead?
That’s a very good question. Does anyone out there want to share their mead making tips? Does anyone want to write a post about it?
Well, we keep 8-10 quarts for personal use, give a little away, and try to sell the rest. I say try because it usually sells within a week or so of harvesting. This year I still have some that didn’t…yet! Every year people ask if I still have honey left and could they buy some way after it has disappeared. I tell them that is has all sold (guarding my own personal stash). So this year I can ask them, ‘how much do you want’?
Oh! And I made a small batch of mead this year as well. This I can enjoy with select friends when it is really nasty, cold and wintery!
Ken, Idaho Falls, ID
10/14/17 I pulled 277 pounds this year with 5 hives. I kept very little sold it all already. Have a wonderful call list of customers that love it. They have been calling all year and what hurts is when they call and I’m out. Sold to many people and the reports are so nice to hear, how the people enjoy it so much. And the ones that don’t buy enough to last, they make up for it the next year. It’s a lot of work but the pleasure of telling I got more is overwhelming.
It sounds like you and customers are having a good time. So important!
By far the best application of honey in my opinion for a “cold” or sore throat, or for any reason at all, is the whiskey toddy. Warm some water, add whiskey, a squeeze of lemon and honey to taste. I have not sold any honey, as most small timers, giving the rest away to family and friends.
I give some to the woman who hosts one of my hives, some to neighbors and friends, eat quite a bit myself and use for vinaigrette. I rarely cook with honey, but if I do it’s usually added to a sauce at the end of cooking. Lastly, I have a stash in the freezer in case the bees run short of stores in the spring.
Hi Rusty – we are small scale beeks near Ottawa, Ontario. This year we harvested just under 600 lbs from 7 hives, despite the cool wet start to the season. We have a small but loyal following of friends and colleagues who we sell about 1/2 of the harvest to. This year we also had 2 small contracts for conference & wedding “favours” and placed some honey for sale in a local high-end food store. We use a fair bit of honey ourselves on home-made yogurt every morning – Yum! This year we will use around 75 lbs of the honey which is either high moisture content (uncapped) and / or what we call “robust” and too strong for sale, for mead making. We make a basic mead and also a Pyment style, also using mustang grapes which grow wild on our property.
One other thing of note – we always have 1 or 2 newbees to mentor or guide on this great beekeeping journey!
What floral source is your “robust” honey? I love dark, strong honey. My favorite.
Where do you purchase the square glass jars for cut comb and who is the manufacturer.
I just use what I can find. I like the glass containers with plastic snap-on lids. You can see the ones made by GlassLock on Amazon. I normally buy just the square ones. They are expensive enough that I only use them for people I know. Otherwise, I use plastic clam shells.
I give my excess honey away to neighbors who put up with my beekeeping activities, friends, family, coworkers, and to the local Scout troop so they can use it in their fund-raising efforts.
I harvest about 40 lbs of honey on average. We use it on toast, but my favourite use is in my morning latte. The great majority is given to friends and family as gifts.
I am the president off my bee club. I agree that it seems most people give away a lot of honey. There are quite a few I know of who just keep it all (as I say, hoard it all for myself). I use 3 to 5 gallons a year in my coffee, on toast, on wings and in all my baking and bread. I do actually sell a little honey to my egg customers, but don’t advertise since people would be knocking the door down to get the honey if more of them knew. One comment I’d like to add…crystallized honey gives bees diarrhea, so if you are saving it for them it is a good idea to freeze it to keep it from crystallizing.
Thank you, Tina. However, I disagree about the diarrhea (also known as honey bee dysentery). Diarrhea in bees is caused by excess solids in the honey, which is the ash content. Ash is the stuff left over after you completely burn a sample of honey. It is made of minerals and other non-burnable particles. When too many of these particles collect in the honey bees’ gut during winter confinement, she can no longer “hold it” and the result is defecation in the hive.
The amount of ash is dependent on the source of the nectar and cannot possibly increase when the honey crystallizes. Crystallization has to do with the arrangement of the sugar molecules and it has nothing to do with the ash content. Although a particle can act as a center or seed for a crystal, the particles cannot multiply all by themselves.
Moisture from the hive from honey bee respiration and moisture from the bee’s saliva dissolve the crystals, and the honey returns to it’s original state.
Many of us regularly feed crystallized honey to bees. I do it every year and most years I overwinter 90 to 100% of my colonies. Feeding crystallized honey is not much different than feeding fondant, which is partially crystallized, or granulated sugar, which is totally crystallized. And honey bees have had to deal with crystallized honey long before there were humans with freezers. They are well equipped to handle it.
Now, if your honey is high in ash, in can cause dysentery whether or not it was frozen. Likewise, if it is low in ash, it is unlikely to produce dysentery whether or not it was frozen. Freezing is a red herring, or an exogenous variable. It may look like it is preventing diarrhea, but it is really the content of the honey that is the problem.
These rumors get started because people draw generalizations from particular instances. So someone may have fed crystallized honey with a high ash content to bees and the bees got dysentery. Someone else froze their honey, but it just happened to have a low ash content. Those bees did not get dysentery. Put together, the rumor becomes that crystallization was the problem and freezing solved it, but no one bothered to look at the ash content, which is the real problem.
This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, problem in scientific inquiry. We often attribute cause and effect to something we see, but the real cause of a problem might be something we don’t even know about.
Interesting, I have never read about ash content. What I have read about causing diarrhea is excess liquid in the bees’ diet. Crystallization of honey causes the liquid to separate from the solids, the bees ingest the liquids and solids separately, and this leads to diarrhea. I tried feeding 1:1 sugar water to my observation hive last winter when the bees could not get out. The excess liquid caused them to have immediate diarrhea. I should try feeding them crystallized honey, but hate to do that to them, and now would have to find out the ash content first, to eliminate that variable.
If you think about it, 1:1 syrup is 50% water, whereas 2:1 syrup is 33% water, and crystallized honey, including the water that came out, is only 20% water. If water is your concern, then crystallized honey has the least, and your 1:1 syrup has the most. I don’t understand your reasoning. You say you, “hate to do that to them.” Buy why? They love it and it is proper bee food, much better than syrup of any type.
Hi Rusty, we enjoy our wildflower honey drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Amazing flavor profiles coming together. We keep about a 1/2 dozen jars back for use in making granola all year, as well as for tea and PB and honey sandwiches and hot oats for breakfast. Of course the family and friends and neighbors all get a jar, then we are still left with about 175 pounds to deal with. So they end up having to be sold, too many to deal with so I made up some nice labels and sell them wholesale to a local shop which features local hand crafted products. I recently had a honey tasting at the shop and sales skyrocketed. So all in all a quality problem having too much honey. Thanks Rusty, I appreciate Honeybeesuite and all that you bring together in the beekeeping community worldwide.
Thanks, Ernie. I’ll have to make some homemade ice cream.
I have been a beekeeper for just three years. Attended Purdue University summer class 2015/2016 took second in a honey exhibit in Ohio. Attend two bee clubs monthly, one in Ohio, another in Indiana.
Ideas are flowing as streams of water for the person holding the cup to drink from.
Our bees pollinate our gardens, I never sell the honey or the pollen, but return the work of the honey bees by taking the beautiful golden honey mixing it with pure butter, makes a wonderful spread on toast or biscuit. Blending the honey in my Kitchen Aid blender with creamy peanut butter then heating some in the micro wave poring it over Vanilla ice cream, I’ve had wives willing to leave their husbands just for a jar or two (Ha Ha)! Lastly taking the dedicated work resulting from my honey bees I put blackberries in my wine press, rendering bottles of delicious wine.
A jar of pure honey, along with a jar of Honey Butter and lastly a jar of honey peanut butter for Christmas gifts for friendship and love ones! “O” yes and if your good a bottle of my wine Gary J Sr.
You’ve got some really good ideas here. Honey butter? Sounds delicious.
This is our second year of beekeeping and enjoy the honey from our bees. We’ve kept some and gave away or sold the rest. I use the honey on my yogurt for breakfast. My husband has a waiting list of co-workers who love our honey.
A waiting list. Cool idea.
I think there are huge health benefits from consuming local honey. The bees that collected the honey took it from flowers whose pollen you have also been exposed to and a teaspoon consumed when symptoms of mild allergy, asthma or hay fever are often alleviated with local honey. So I try to give jars to anyone local expressing such symptoms. I also take a teaspoon when I have been stung as well as other treatments – it seems to help! I do sell a bit from the smallholding; it seems people value more what they have had to pay for.
That reminds me. Many years ago I was moving and I had a garage sale. Among everything else were four chairs with a sign that said “free.” Nearly everything had sold but the chairs remained. Finally, I changed the sign to “$2 each.” They sold withing 15 minutes. So, yeah, I get it.
Just to add where I am beekeeping – South West UK
We sell ours as we’re building a commercial enterprise. However, all our hives are on land owned by other people so they get the traditional ‘rent’ of 1lb honey per hive. We sell half pound jars so they get two, and we look super-generous 🙂
Hi Rusty –
Glad you asked this question cause I’ve really enjoyed reading the responses. Second year for me – honey last year was gifts & personal use in beverages – cold & hot, on cold cereal & in oatmeal, honey & peanut butter sandwiches, straight honey for coughs or sore throat.
Also used as first aid for small cuts or scrapes – just put some on a piece of gauze & tape over injury. Amazing how quickly places heal & don’t leave a scar! Honey has lots of anti-bacterial properties.
Have learned a lot from your website & still go back & read articles as the questions come up again. Keep up the great work – you are a blessed resource for many beekeepers!
Thank you. I’ve been writing an article about the antibacterial properties of honey, so yes, I agree.
Oh – forgot to add that I did some cut-comb honey this year at the request of a couple of family members – glad I did enough to keep some for myself, as I’d forgotten how much I like it on a hot biscuit! 🙂
What a great question to ask!
I have kept bees for 10 years through the thick and thin of animal husbandry in beekeeping. We had a good year in 2017. Just one little problem as much as I need to sell the honey, I keep giving the precious hard won nectar away. If a friend is feeling low… honey, If our clubs need a raffle item… honey, Xmas presents? you already know the answer…. honey. Even if we meet Danish folks fishing on the river and they have never tried Vancouver Island’s polyfloral sweetness…. honey. It’s endless I must stop giving it away. Not going to happen. Honey, what could be better?
Great question and after reading all the wonderful things that everyone does with honey there is nothing to add except to say that here in mid-Michigan we feel pretty fortunate that our harvest was good and the girls appear well and ready to use many great ideas learned here for wintering them for their second winter. Oh, I use honey for fundraising at Church and Relay for Life. So true, you just can’t put a price on it!
Linda from mid-Michigan
I am a practical beekeeper for over 15 years, a Master Beekeeper Certificate holder from Australia and a post graduate student in Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki, Nigeria. I manage over 50 honeybee colonies in Langstroth hives for people and few of mine.
We harvest reasonable quantity of honey annually (about 600 to 1000 kilogram). We use little and sale a lot of them. price is not a problem, but production. This is because we can not meet up with the demand of our honey. In the country, many people have identified our honey and they use it for treatment of different kinds of diseases especially both internal and external ulcers.
Good work, Akpoke. I’ve read a lot about the medicinal value of honey and it is a fascinating subject. I think we don’t pay enough attention to it here in the states.
I am sure I am like a lot of beekeepers. The 1st 3 yrs or so I tended a few hives and never harvested any honey and the question from my wife was “This is a pretty expensive hobby where is my honey??” Then for the next 3 yrs or so I gave it all away and I learned that a lot of honey consumers have no idea how much work, effort sweat and tears and sometimes sleepless nights go into beekeeping. It is always like “Hey can I have some more?” I now have my hives on a farm and most of the honey goes to the farmer and his farm stand. I get compensated at the end of the year. I give away a bunch and keep some for the spring emergency honey for March. Some of the people I give honey to use it for cooking, most of the others are coffee tea and toast.
After being a commercial beek, I’m now retired with a dozen hives. I use honey in soap, lip balm, cold salve, skin bars and more. Love to cream it too. My fav is cinnamon.
I have 2 small delivery areas where I personally deliver honey to the door. (Folks leave a check and don’t have to be there unless in apartments.)
I eat honey daily. I have it in my tea in the evenings, usually on breakfasts, if lunch is a pnut butter sandwich it always is with honey. I make my own salad dressings, most with a dribble of honey. Sauces have honey. Even spaghetti sauce gets some honey to balance out the acid in tomatoes. I make ice cream in my vitamix —with honey. There’s not much that cannot be improved with honey.
Thank you. The cinnamon creamed honey sounds yummy.
Like Granny Roberta in CT, we had almost no harvest this summer but we did have a pretty good fall flow, so I ended up with about 150 lbs harvested from 3 of my hives. My son is getting married in the spring so I set 30 lbs aside for wedding favors in the form of mini bears. I’ll give away a lot to family, friends, and neighbors but I also plan to sell some at craft fairs.
BTW, I expected the fall honey to be dark since I thought it was coming from a mixture of goldenrod, Japanese knotweed, and buckwheat (I planted some plus one of the local farms grew it all summer and fall) but it was very light and sweet. I’d love to know what nectar source the girls found to make that in the fall!
Isn’t that just like honey bees? Always full of surprises.
I sell some, eat some, mostly on toast, and make herbal products with the rest.
Like many others here my honey goes primarily to tea, neighbors, friends, dinner parties, and mead. I find bringing an 8 ounce jar of honey to a dinner party generates way more excitement than a bottle of wine from the grocery store on the way over. In reality I’m banking quite a bit though.
Of course if one has too much honey you can make too much mead. If you have too much mead you could always distill it. Just sayin’….
I love it on pancakes in place of syrup. Also in my tea. NOT in my coffee… I love honey and i love coffee, but the two should never mingle.
I have a large family, so I give a lot away. One aunt is a diabetic, and she likes it as a quick source of sugar to balance the blood.
I make a cough syrup where you take the burrs off burdock and stuff them in a pint jar until you can’t fit any more. Then you top the jar up with vodka and let it sit for a few months. Works great, but tastes like sh*t. I’d like to try it with a portion of honey this year.
Hopefully it doesn’t just taste like sh*t with honey….
I’ve heard a lot about burdock lately, but this is a new twist.
Our first year we harvested very little and gave it away to friends and relatives. This year we got 45 pounds and have only given it to relatives that expressed interest. My wife sold a bottle to a co-worker and word spread. We sold almost all of our honey to her co-workers, including a fellow from Ethiopia who said he was going to make Tej with it. A few weeks ago, cold season started and sales have surged again. We only have two bottles left. Maybe we should keep them for ourselves.
Yes! Definitely save some for the beekeeper.
I usually get about 200# in the fall and store it in gallon jars. I sell it by the pound and ask anyone who wants to buy some to bring along their pint or quart jars and I fill them up. This way, I ensure that more glass doesn’t end up being dumped in the environment and I’m able to sell the honey for less because they bring their own jars.
I do many different things with the honey I keep. I use it daily in tea; make large batches of granola with it; add it to homemade yogurt; use it to sweeten gallons of applesauce before canning; infuse it with ginger, garlic or rose petals; make elderberry elixir; sweeten batches of pureed peach, plum or apples before turning it into fruit leather; when making meads and melomels; fruit smoothies and sorbets. What I do not use it for is in making fruit pies because it always overwhelms the berry flavor—-have to use sugar in this one! Finally, I gift it throughout the year.
I have 8 or so hives, been at it for 10 years. Mostly I gift my honey to my large extended family. I will sell to coworkers and friend of friends who insist on purchasing honey. Like many have mentioned, there seems to be a lot of people who put quite a bit of effort into marketing their honey locally, and though I’d like to recoup a few bucks to off set the expenses, honey sales was not the reason I got into beekeeping.
I have made a batch of mead and it was fun doing so. It was a caramel apple cyser. We don’t drink often enough to prompt me to make another batch, but I suspect I will at some point. Most of what I made I shared with friends who appreciate the uniqueness.
My favorite use of honey, and I firmly believe that the reason bees and honey came to exists, is to put it on a hot buttery biscuit. There is something quite heavenly about that!
This summer, a stupid beekeeper (me) extracted 3 gallons of honey from a hive that was going gangbusters. Then we had a 6 week dearth (Central Ohio), and by late August they were starving & had shut the queen down. I usually save frames in the freezer to feed back to them – but I had none! I bought a feeder that replaces two frames & holds a gallon & filled it with their own honey & water (1/2 & 1/2). We had a very dry September and the fall nectar flow dried up, so no goldenrod honey this year either. I’ll be feeding 100% of their 2017 honey back to them. And I hope I’ve learned not to be greedy. We don’t even eat much honey – I have a closet full of it. (Also still have a jar of my father’s honey from the 1960s).
Don’t be too hard on yourself. At least you discovered the problem and took care of it. Best, they will still be eating their own honey.
Oh, and I like your “ornament!”
Hi there. This is my first year with 2 nucs that exploded to fill 4 deep boxes. I didn’t expect to have honey this year but ended up extracting 250 lb and leaving 100 lb for each of my 2 hives (just guessing as I can barely lift them) so I have had to quickly start taking honey samples to my 2 workplaces which addicted everyone and I have sold all but 100 lb so far. I am dressing some up for Christmas to use and sell as hostess gifts and keeping some for home. I guess every year is different and next year I might not get any but sitting between fields of canola, clover and goldenrod is helpful and I feel certain that the girls will bring home enough for themselves at least. Now to get through the Canadian prairie winter…..
This is our second year beekeeping in the western suburbs of Chicago. Both years have been quite productive despite losing both hives last fall. We sell about 2/3’s of our yield to friends and neighbors and have found there is a huge demand for local honey. The rest we keep and use as often as possible. Love it drizzled on toast, English muffins, pancakes, scones, yogurt. Especially love it with roasted carrots or sweet potatoes. Trader Joes makes a goat cream cheese which served on a cracker and topped with honey makes a great appetizer. Also use it in salad dressings. This year, I’m looking into making lip balm or candles with the wax. Also crossing fingers we don’t lose our hives again :-/
Hmm…goat cream cheese. I wrote that on my grocery list.
I love that people are putting their location on the top line.
We use honey every day for breakfast and in tea. My wife cooks with it a little. It is great as part of a rib sauce and as a glaze on salmon. I give away all the rest to friends. I have found that everyone wants honey but a lot of people do not use it. Now I only give to people that return the jars.
The same applies to comb honey. Many folks are so intimidated by it, they just do nothing.
Hi Rusty, et. al.
I lost ALL my hives last winter so this year, I started again with two colonies of Italians. I harvested ~65 lbs. and, finally, got the honey decanted. I usually give away a jar or two to my neighbors as they are continually patient with me and my hives and have been so far the four years I have lived here. I also swap the honey for eggs, grape and strawberry preserves and, since I am in NH, maple syrup. I sell some, but not very much.
I also grow hops. I pass along all my Cascade hops and a quantity of honey to my friend who is a craft beer brewer. This time of year, he makes a batch of honey ale/beer and I get a couple of growlers out of it.
I have only one top bar hive. I eat a little, give some away. Leave a lot for the bees. My favorite time is when I have all the little jars lined up on the window sill in my kitchen. When the sun hits the honey it’s so pretty. The more I learn about bees, the more I love them.
I like to look at them on the window sill, too. And I love all the different colors.
Rusty, bees are interesting, honey is work. This is my 8th year. I swore I would have a max of 6 hives. I will have 9 going into winter plus 7 nucs. (Nucs are not hives, wink, wink.) I am blessed with a pollen rich foraging area. The last 2 years I have pulled about 1500 and 1200 pounds. I average better then the provincial average. Eastern Ontario.
I sell wholesale by the case to 2 local high-end bakeries, a micro-pub, a propane gas outlet (think honey barbecue), a foodie outlet. It’s a hobby, I say. Really it’s a hobby. I play bridge and sell $5, $5, $5 to club members. I give neighbours and friends the family discount on first jar, free. Family get the free discount on all they can handle. My daughter took a case to her mother-in-law and swapped it for a kilo of walnuts from Costco!!
I eat very little. We make a very nice honey mustard dressing. I find people appreciate it more if they pay a little and get a deal.
Enjoy your site. Sweet Pete.
I agree that honey is work. Most people don’t realize what goes into it.
We currently have 13 colonies. When we have honey (our bees opted out of using their supers this year) we sell about half at local fairs and word of mouth, along with honey lip balms and honey hand creams. A portion of our honey is given to appreciative friends and the people whose land we keep our colonies on and we eat the rest.
I like a teaspoon a day straight up. Recently I drizzle a little over plain thick yogurt. The only cooking I’ve ever done with it is as a glaze for a baked ham.
This is our fourth year of beekeeping but third year to actually harvest honey. We have two hives on our small suburban lot outside of Philadelphia. In 2015 we harvested three times from each hive and ended up with 110 lbs. In 2016 we harvested three times again and ended up with 204 lbs. This year we harvested twice and ended up with 144 lbs.
We consume about 40 lbs a year ourselves, adding it to breakfast cereal and always have a bowl of fruit as our lunch that we drizzle honey on top. The rest we give away to neighbors, friends and even the AC and Heating and other service people we call on occasion.
I always ask if they like honey and if they do, Surprise!
A very sweet surprise, the best kind.
Mid way into 2nd year. I harvested 80 lbs of honey. Could have been more, but crazy warm winter and swarms in early March killed me. I gave away some to family and friends, sold approximately 50 lbs and the rest is in buckets for personal use. Husband uses it in coffee, me I put it on peanut butter bread and use it regularly when having leg cramps. (Yes, it does work…1-2 tsp about 3-4 mins the cramps start to ease up.)
I am going to try making creamed honey within the next few weeks.
I have three hives and have been keeping bees for 12 years. I have an honor system table set up in my yard where I sell honey, soap, and beeswax moisturizer. My honey sells, and on rare occasions, someone will buy soap or moisturizer. Daily I drizzle honey over plain greek yogurt and fruit—delicious.
I have always loved bees and have actively tried to learn about beekeeping for a few years now. I am a first year beekeeper with two hives started from nucs in mid April. I love to look at your pics, read your blog and learn all the good lessons from your experience.
Your blog is one of the reasons I took the plunge. My bees are teaching me too. They taught me that what I thought was level was not bee level and they can build comb fast during warm weather with peak flow. I got out my husband’s level and they were right. I will have some wild comb to sort out next summer. Both hives are on the same stand and they are both built at the same angle across the frames. I got busy and by the time I went in they were all done and busy making baby bees in it.
I didn’t take any honey this year. I need to buy some honey soon. I eat it by the spoonful for a snack and make honey butter for toast and oatmeal. I mix it with cinnamon and coconut oil to make granola or put in coffee or eat with a spoon or spread on whatever. I put it in bread and pizza dough. Once I made clafoutis with pie cherries using honey and baked it in a cast iron skillet. I need to make that again! I eat honey several times a week. I only have about a half gallon left of the stuff. I am starting to get nervous I will run out. 🙂
Since we live in the mountains and get so much snow in the winter the hives are on my back deck so they don’t get buried or harvested by the bears. Today I flipped the inner covers to winter configuration and added some 2 inch foam insulation under the lids to help with ventilation and prevent condensation. There was condensed bee breath between the lids and the inner covers on both hives. I had put a folded blanket on the top of the lids to try and prevent the cold lid condensing when I saw it was going to be cold for a week. I should have flipped the inner covers then to help with air flow. Live and learn.
I just bought some wire mesh to build quilt boxes. I have extra medium boxes so will do an all in one mountain rim/quilt box so I can feed sugar cakes or candy. I think I will need to feed sugar since calendar spring is like winter and I don’t want my bees to starve in the spring. If they don’t eat the sugar I can make it into syrup when it is warm enough to feed syrup next year. Winter is almost here now. We already had two days of snow this week. It is melting and in the mid 50’s today. I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to check on the bees and can still smell my smoke perfume.
After I came in from the bees I was reading your blog and enjoying the beekeeping smokey smell when I felt some stickiness on my fingers. I didn’t pull any sticky frames today so I thought it must be sap but I looked and it was brown. Of course. Propolis. This is the first time I have worked without a bee jacket or gloves. I have never smelled propolis before. I didn’t really think about it. Oh my is it fabulous! I don’t know what they used to make it but it smells so deliciously spicy. I want my house to smell like that. There are so many wild mountain shrubs and trees for the bees to choose their sap from. Their blend of scent is better than anything I have smelled from the store.
Whatever it is that they used on the inner cover is better than any aromatherapy oil I have in my collection. I was just thinking yesterday that I need to buy more frankincense and myrrh aromatherapy oils. They are very expensive so I always put it off. No way am I going to spend money on them when I have a couple of aromatherapy factories on my back deck! I flipped the inner covers today but didn’t scrape them. Tomorrow the first harvest I will get from my hives comes off of those boards. Now I just have to research making aromatherapy oil from propolis. I am having so much fun!
You can put a propolis trap in your hives, too. It’s like a queen excluder except the holes are smaller. The bees can’t get through it, so they just propolize it. Then you freeze it, bend it, and the propolis pops out. I’ve never tried one, but I’ve seen people do it.
Another gday in an Aussie accent. Claire in Melbourne, Australia here. Greg from the Yarra Valley (who I know), posted earlier about the bad season we had in our 2016/17 spring and summer. I left all 7 of my hives with whatever they had produced. No harvest at all.
Previous years have seen me leave a box for the bees, surplus is crushed and strained and put in recycled glass jars. Friends and family get a jar, taster jars given away at the various fruit and veg swaps I attend and through word of mouth I sell. I have a label on the jar that says “cold extracted, unpasteurised, minimally filtered, untreated” & it sells. To the people I work with, my sister’s neighbour, the sister’s neighbour’s personal trainer and to those who tried a taster at the swap. You get the picture.
My “customers” don’t mind the odd bit of wax or the odd bee leg, love the fact that it is minimally processed.
We are lucky in Australia that we don’t yet have varroa hence I can truthfully claim the honey is untreated. My bee group contacts say that at $10Au/kg I am selling it too cheaply.
I appear to be late to the party, here. This is my third year and the first one I’ve gotten a nice honey crop. I bottled 45 jars and have no idea what to do with it. I am currently planning to give away jars to friends and neighbors for the holidays, and then we’ll see what I have left over. My grandfather sold honey for years in Rhode Island, and I am hoping to as well someday. Just not yet.
Thanks for all you do.
Claire in Melbourne, Australia again. I forgot to add that I now use honey in my tea instead of sugar. In winter I make a hot lemon (freshly squeezed juice) & honey to drink.
I make a really nice honey cake (also using homegrown free range eggs) for functions that you bring along a plate of food to, but apart from the cake I don’t use it in baking.
One of my colleagues badly burnt his forearm and asked me for some honey to put on the burn. It healed up nicely and his parents who were visiting from India asked for a jar to take back with them.
The fact that your honey is cold pressed makes it particularly good for wound care. Both oxidation (as from a centrifugal extractor) and heat degrade the antimicrobial properties. I’m not surprised the wound healed so well.
Rusty, I have never heard that centrifugal extraction reducing the antimicrobial properties of honey? Do you have a reference for this, or more information on the impact of this compared with heat? I have used both methods and I didn’t realize that there was an impact on the honey using the spin-out method. Thanks.
Centrifugal extraction adds oxygen and moisture which can degrade plant-specific phytochemicals. Heating can degrade glucose oxidase and filtering can remove it. Glucose oxidase is vital for he antimicrobial action in honey. I will have an article about this in the December American Bee Journal.
Interesting, thank you! I knew about the effects of heating, the extraction makes sense. I hand extracted for the first time this year, having only crushed and strained in the past. Look forward to your article in ABJ!! Thanks again.
What a post and what a response .. I have been reading this for days and still can’t keep up .. what a variety of things to do with honey. Maybe the next thing for you to do, Rusty, is take all the wonderful information and put it in a little book …… it’s amazing what everyone can do with the product. Great Bees ! Love em !
There is another long string of replies on my Facebook page. I’d like to consolidate them somehow.
I had so many problems last year just trying to get my cut out hives to make it into winter that I never took any honey from them unless I got it on my hand and licked it off. As I added two packages of bees to my apiary to make 3 hives, this spring, and recovered one swarm in early summer, everyone told me not to expect to get any honey this year. So as the summer went on and the bees worked diligently I always made sure the bottom two boxes had brood and honey in ample supply.
Now that fall came I found myself with a surplus between all 3 hives and the double nuc cut out. After I distributed it between my hives to assure all frames in the two lower boxes where full going into October I found myself with just under 40 lbs of honey that I have given to a few friends and neighbors and kept some for myself and family. I keep telling them to savor the flavor due to the fact that at this point with overhead if I had to charge them it would run around $200.00 per oz. HaHaHaHa! I don’t do it for the money, I just enjoy interacting with nature and learning. Nothing like a nice quiet day in the bee yard. Thanks for all your help and wonderful posts.
After the extraction process, cleaning up the drops, spills, equipment and such, I not in a mind space to be excited about tasting more honey for a while. My harvest goes into quart jars that get set on my locker at work. I’ll have co-workers drop by and buy a jar. Pretty low key sales. What doesn’t sell gets parsed out to friends in family in smaller jars for the holidays. The last couple of years I’ve had pretty modest honey harvests, but as my production ramps up I’ll be exploring road side weekend sales in my neighborhood.
I usually harvest 60 to 80 gallons a year. My wife and I go through a 2lb jar every week using in coffee, oatmeal, buttered biscuits/English muffins, so that is 52 quarts or 13 gallons we eat ourselves. I have 22 customers camping out on my pasture during harvest season and they will purchase most of my harvest yearly. I donate a case of 2lb jars to a retirement home.
I’m lucky enough to own a retail store where I can sell my honey. I sold about 60 lbs last year and have about 150 lbs to sell this year. This is my 3rd year keeping bees. I do gift lots to family and friends. I use my honey in my homemade granola, in tea, coffee, salad dressing and on toast!!
I’d love to try comb honey but haven’t attempted it yet!
Mike in London, UK
I filled 60 12oz jars this year—would have got double that if I’d been a little better at swarm control 🙂
We eat a lot—there’s always a jar open in the kitchen. It goes on breakfast cereal, on toast, mixed up in salad dressing, over baked apples (from our tree), mixed up with cocoa and milk to make hot chocolate.
It goes in cakes, biscuits, flapjacks, apple pie… Basically any recipe that includes sugar we put in honey instead. All our extended family get a jar or two every time we see them.
We also sold about 40 jars to a local cafe to sell to their customers. It’s not enough to make any kind of profit but it’s great to know that we can make a product people want to buy. Plus we wouldn’t know what else to do with it all.
I haven’t made any cut comb yet but people are always asking for it so will put some foundationless frames in to make it next year. I’ve tried eating it myself but I just don’t like it—the first bite is nice but then I end up with an unpleasant mouth full of wax—maybe I’m doing it wrong.
Oh, Mike, you are definitely doing something wrong. You should never, ever, never end up with wax in your mouth. No, no, no!
Comb honey needs to be eaten with something else in the same bite. It can be anything: crackers, toast, cheese, salad, cereal, etc. Then the wax sticks to the food and disappears and you don’t even notice. Foundationless helps too.
Next time you get a chance, just spread some on warm toast. If the food is hot, the wax melts before you eat it.
Oh, Mike, oh, Rusty. Wax just cries out to be chewed on. The main reason for straining is to get all that honey out of the lovely chewing wax. You should always, always, always end up with wax in your mouth. Yes, yes, yes.
I hate, hate, hate chewing wax. No, no, no!
I hate, hate, hate chewing wax. No, no, no!
This is outrageous. We must meet at dawn.
May I suggest for weaponry two pound honey bears at but a single pace.
I’m curious could you share some photos of your honey ornaments please? 🙂
Most of my honey goes into smoothies, tea, and oatmeal. However, I live in Austin, Texas which is one of the allergy capitals of the US. I have lots of folks who want MY honey because it supposedly helps with local allergies.
Thanks for the website. We live in Puget Sound area. I eat honey every day on my toast. We’ve been trying to sell our honey at farmers markets and off our porch. Last year was a bust for honey because it rained at least every third day. This year as you know was perfect for honey production. Cold wet winter and spring followed by a warm and dry summer. We were enjoying the blackberry flow followed by a fireweed flow. We made comb honey for the first time and it is beautiful. I am have a hard time selling it though because most people don’t know what to do with it. The ones who do ask me for it, but the rest need a lot of examples of how to serve it if they would even consider buying it.
2017 Harvest yield 52 Gallon A&G Apairies
I get an average of 150 lbs. per year. I had been bottling it in various sized jars and selling it primarily to friends. I also give about 10-15% away. This year I put about half of it into 2 gallon pails and sold it to area restaurants and a couple of serious honey users. I give a 10% discount to friends who buy in bulk. This is the way I hope to do it this way going forward.
I am impressed with all the big harvests! I only have 2 regular sized hives and one nuc. Afraid that the ladies will not survive the winter, I harvested very little – enough for family and friends. Everyone is so impressed with my hobby! I leave my favorite jar full on the kitchen counter for display. I use honey on yogurt. My husband and son on toast.
I’ve been keeping bees for three years now and have five hives. This was the first year I’ve had a genuine harvest, and it was pretty much all from a single hive. I might have taken a frame or two from the other hives, but one hive in particular spared me 12 frames of dry-capped honeycomb. I boxed some frames as cut comb and otherwise have been crushing and straining the comb to give to neighbors, family and friends…not sure how much it tallies in gallons or pounds.
My favorite use for the honey so far is a drink. I put a dollop of honey in a short glass and microwave it for a few seconds to make it runny. Then I mash a couple of sprigs of mint into it. Then I add in the juice of a lime and a decent portion of Tequila or Mezcal and stir it around. Finally, I pour it into a shaker of ice, add some limeade, shake it all up and strain it into an ice-filled glass. I’m not someone who drinks much hard liquor, but this drink’s given me a new appreciation, especially at the end of a hot summer day.
I give loads away in the form of xmas, birthday, host gifts, house warming… The size of the jar depends on the size of the harvest. One xmas, everyone got a 2 1/5 pound jar! This spring we got married and everyone (or at least every family/couple) went home with an 8 oz jar. Who wants Jordon almonds anyway?!?
I use my honey in green tea every morning, and randomly I use it in salad dressings, salsas and such. Comb honey shows up with a good cheddar cheese and crackers. One of my favorite uses is on Thanksgiving for “Citrus-Glazed Turkey with Chipotle Gravy.” Butter, zests, mild smokey heat and a 1/2 cup of honey. So good.
Last year I put a 2 1/2 pound jar in a Yankee Swap at a xmas party. It was chosen early, and was stolen/swapped a half dozen times before the end of the night. A big hit.
Ugh, I better start spinning.
We package the honey harvest and sell to my clients. We are thinking of doing value addition to the honey in the long run to make soap, lip balms or candles.
My first year I packaged most of my honey harvest in 4oz Ball jars and sold them for $10 each. Four of them went to Belgium with a friend as a gift to Cantillion Lambic Museum and Brewery. My friend wanted something unique and from Chicago.
I have a mead making tip – When I rinse out my extractor with as little boiling water as possible, I save the sugary liquid in the freezer until I’m ready to ferment again. It can be used as a yeast starter or added to the honey instead of plain water. I hate seeing honey go to waste!
Thanks for a great site. I try and read everything right away!
I added your tip to an old post about rinse water. Thank you!
This is my third year. The first two years the harvests were small and we consumed or gave away all of our honey. I have honey in my coffee every day. We gave honey to a friend and he made barbecue sauce with it. He returned the empty honey bottle full of fantastic sauce. This year we harvested 400 lbs from six hives and I am starting to sell it by word of mouth. I also set up a portable demonstration hive at a local ecology fair this fall and a restaurant is interested in using our honey in their cocktails!
Sounds delicious. I have my own barbecue sauce story in an old post.
Top bar hives, 6th year beekeeper. The girls didn’t start capping their stores until near the end of the spring nectar flow even though the hives had been pretty full for awhile.
Obviously, can only harvest combs they’ve capped at least 80%, so only pulled about 10 combs all told earlier this year-a few from each colony that had surplus. (What counts as ‘surplus’ determined by experience from previous years.) Crush extraction is easiest for me, 1 full comb yielding ~2 pt jars, ~20oz of honey in each jar.
All kept for us, not enough to sell. I use it when I bake bread, and I bake a two loaf batch every few days for our family, 1/3 cup honey per batch. Good on waffles or pancakes too – use instead of maple syrup which is expensive down here. Good as a molasses substitute in baked goods that call for it – not the same taste, but similar consistency.
Oh, by crush extraction, I mean a set-up cobbled together from a photo of someone else’s idea. It uses a manual car jack bolted sideways to a frame that pushes two boards together, squashing a bag full of large chunks of comb. The honey squeezes out through the permeable fabric of the bag and flows down the angled tips of the boards into a catch basin below.
The leftover wax in the bag is pretty dry, not too much wastage, and the honey comes out mostly clean. Waxed paper taped over the boards helps a lot with cleanup.
If you can ever get some photos of your system, I would love to see it, even if I have to wait until next year.
Hello, we had our hive abscond this fall and have half a brooder box of capped honey. The other one and a half were empty. Should we harvest the honey or could we keep it stored to start another hive with new bees next spring? Thanks!
You can do either one, save it or harvest it. That is totally up to what you feel like doing. If it were me, I would probably use it for a new colony.
On a side note, honey bees rarely abscond, especially in the fall. It’s kind of a myth. Unless you have Africanized bees or your hive is overrun with small hive beetles, I suspect they disappeared due to varroa mites. “Absconding bees or death by Varroa .”
You are right. We brought the hive in to keep the honey safe from predators and I did an inspection of the frames. I see the white guanine debris scattered throughout the empty brood chambers. There are 8.5 full frames of honey. Varroa dies without live bees to feed off of right? Should I still freeze them for disease management? Should I remove the wax off of the other frames for the bees to make anew or leave them on next spring? Thanks for your help it’s truly appreciated.
Yes, once the bees are gone any remaining mites die. They need bees to live on. So, reasons for freezing would be infestations of wax moths or small hive beetles. If they were not an issue in your hive, there is no point in freezing the frames. On the other hand, no harm is done by freezing them overnight. Any insect living there will be killed.
If you store the frames away from predators such as mice and moths, they should be fine. However, do expose them to air. Honey frames that are stored wrapped in plastic or in sealed plastic containers often mold and then ferment. So keeping them dry is important. If you criss-cross your stack of boxes (long way, short way, long way) air and light can get in each box. Air keeps the frames dry, and light deters both wax moths and hive beetles.
As for the brood frames, the new bees will clean them up and reuse them. Having pre-drawn comb will get them off to a quick start, and they can clean the old ones faster than they can build new ones.
I will be interested to hear what others say. I had the same happen but I have other hives I place it on or let them rob it by mistake. If it is your only hive then I think you should freeze it and place it back on a hive in the spring. Just leaving it with no protection will make it available for unwanted guests. If you don’t have freezer space then I am interested to hear how you can protect it.
This is my very first year, and I was an apprentice beekeeper, helping a neighbor gentleman who has had hives since he was 25 (he is currently 90!) He is teaching me and by the end of this season, we gathered appx 50 quarts of strained honey. We live in West Michigan, out in the boonies near a lake. I’m pretty sure that the bees I have been seeing in my flower garden over the past years must have been from his hives!
He had 2 hives but lost the one last winter. This spring, when the bees were backing up trying to get in, we moved some frames of brood over to the empty hive (right next to it!) and when Hive 1 swarmed, they simply moved next door. As a result, we were able to do 2 harvests of Hive 1 and one harvest of Hive 2.
I have to say nothing tastes as spectacular as honey you’ve had to work for,….get stung for…and watched. What an amazing thing ya’ll have been doing…I believe I’m hooked. My friend has given me Hive 2 and I have to say I’m nervous and worried about how they’ll over winter. There is SO MUCH information from everyone that it is hard to absorb. I’m just going to go with what he has done over the years…except I think I will add some food…I like your idea about just a bag of sugar with a couple drops of wintergreen oil!
Now…to the part about what I do with it? Well, my friend gave most of his to family, sold some, and kept a little. I gave a little, sold none, and got to keep about 10 of those 50 quarts! Yeah!!
My husband and I use it drizzled over plain yogurt with some fresh fruit (pineapple is WONDERFUL!) and some granola or crunchy cereal. Or, I make a Chia Seed Pudding served with fruit and a drizzle of honey.
We made some sopapillo cheesecake and slathered it with honey. I love peanut butter toast with honey, honey in my tea, for more dessert, how about Honey and Lemon Ice Cream…or Honey Lemon Ginger Jam?? And finally…I discovered the beauty of a simple spoonful of honey…so buttery and luscious!
Nice write-up. Sounds fun. I’m definitely going to try pineapple and honey together. What a great idea.
I am fairly new to beekeeping, but as a child helped my dad with his bees. I always have honey on toast and in my tea. Recently made some really oatmeal cookies with honey. As a child, while other kids were drinking koolaid, we drank a concoction of apple cider vinegar, honey and water, everyday!. it might be a trend now, but it wasn’t back then. Anyway, we recently put my dad in an assisted living home and have started to clean out his house to put up for sale. He was a hoarder to say the least. We found lots of old jars of honey and even found 6 large metal square cans full of honey (food service size—I’m guessing about 14″ by 9″ by 9″). This honey has got to be about 15-20 years old. What can we do with it? I know honey doesn’t go bad, But it has got to be crystallized quite a bit and it is dark. Not sure if that’s with age or the type of honey it is. Any ideas?
Honey gets darker with age, and I think it’s partially due to oxidation and perhaps partly due to changes in some of the components. I think the amount of change will vary with the source. I have 12-year-old honey in my kitchen and it’s still not crystallized. It was dark to start with and doesn’t look any darker to me, but it’s hard to remember that far back.
If you want to give it to bees, I would give them only a small portion at a time because old honey can contain higher levels of HMF than new honey, but since it’s crystallized the concentration of HMF may be small. Alternatively, you could give to a pig or cattle farmer.
So, Is it not safe for human consumption? I gave some away already.
You already said, ” I know honey doesn’t go bad,” so I didn’t think that was the question. It sounded like you wanted to know what else to do with it. But, sure. Eat it. I would.
This is my 3rd year keeping bees. I had only one hive this year – my to hives didn’t make it through last Winter. My 2017 bees were amazing. I extracted about 3 gallons of Spring honey and 8 gallons in the Fall. And there are still 17 frames of honey to get the hive through this Winter. I sell some of the honey at local stores, give some to friends and relatives, and tried something new with a few half pints this year. I ordered Baby Ginger from a grower in North Carolina. I chopped the ginger very fine and put about a tablespoon and a half in each half pint jars of honey. For about a week, I inverted the jars each day to run the ginger through the honey. The flavor infused the honey well and we have delicious Ginger Honey.
I have some unrefined sugar that I want to give as sugar cakes. Will this kill the bees.
Well, it certainly won’t kill them outright. The problem is that unrefined sugar has a higher proportion of undigestible solids in it than refined sugar. If your bees are confined for long periods without the ability to take cleansing flights, they have a higher chance of coming down with diarrhea (honey bee dysentery). If they get out a lot, it’s not a problem.
Thank you for the reply. I am in Central Alabama and they are not confined for long periods of time. However that does not mean that will be the case this year. I think I will use it.
There are so many great replies to what you do with your honey, and mine wouldn’t differ much. But you also asked about wax rendering, so I’ll give my little story. The first year I was able to harvest honey from my 2 colonies, I read and asked around about what to do with the cappings and decided an old crockpot was my choice. Searched garage sales and resale stores for a couple of months with no success, very weird, I thought. What were people doing with those things? Then noticed the cappings were starting to mold! Uh oh. Back to VOA and spotted a used rice cooker. And it works great! I put the cappings in greenhouse trays lined with foil and set them about 100 yards from the bee yard, allowing the bees (of all kinds, I might add) to retrieve almost every bit of honey. I then put the remaining wax in the removable metal insert of the cooker, add about a half cup of water, and turn it to the ‘hold’ or ‘keep warm’ setting. Nice, gentle heat. Once the wax has melted, I pour the entire contents through a piece of old, clean tshirt or undershirt (my partner’s contribution) rubber banded over a small plastic bucket. Once cooled, the clean wax is floating on the water and easily removed from the bucket. I throw the water in my flower beds, NEVER down the drain. If there are still little bits of gunk on the bottom of the wax cake you can scrape them away or repeat the melting/cooling process. The disgusting pieces of cloth strainer make great bonfire starters! I’ve typically gotten about a pound of clean wax from cappings off 3-4 medium supers. Haven’t done anything with it yet, but I love to open the bags and just smell!
Thanks for the tip. I’ve been waiting to render a lot of beeswax, but it’s always a messy disaster. This idea looks reasonable, so maybe I’m ready for a try.
Good luck, Rusty! I would add that if you can do this someplace other than the kitchen, that would be good.
I also want to tell you that your no-cook candy boards work really well for me so I’ll be having a demo session in my kitchen for a couple of friends after the solstice. Thanks for the great work you do here and the pleasure you offer in your amusing stories!
This year I’m going into winter with 11 hives. Last spring I came out of winter with 5 hives. Honey has been kind of hit and miss. This year I only got about 120 ponds from the 5 hives but they all swarmed in the spring (hence the reason I have 11 now). My wife has a teaspoon of honey every morning mixed with some warm water and a squeeze of lemon juice. She also makes a pot of tea that she sweetens with honey that lasts through the day. I like it on oatmeal, farina, and pancakes. We use about 30 pounds a year. We also give a lot of it away to our families. Since I’ve been keeping bees (about 5 years), I have always given small bottles of honey to all the close by neighbors (about 6) for Christmas. I’m sure they appreciate that as they often mention seeing “my bees” at their swimming pool, air conditioner or small pond. In the end I do sell some 5# to a couple of local people.
Giving away those small bottles to close neighbors is one of the smartest things a beekeeper can do!
I love my raw honey. I leave more for the bees than I collect. What I do collect I try to consume, daily in my coffee but, relatives come begging so I relinquish a lb or so.
Myself and nephew have expanded to 5 colonies this past year (3 more than I wanted)
San Leandro, CA
Love reading all the different ideas.
I have a friend who makes Kombucha with honey. It used a special June SCOBI” . I haven’t tried it yet but plan to soon.
In my area there is a huge English Ivy bloom in the fall. Most of the honey was rock hard in the frame before they could even get it capped. Last year I put those frames in my freezer chest until the spring time, then used them to feed swarms that we caught in bait hives. With all the swarms we caught, this year we had way too many frames of crystallized honey to make it practical to save it until next spring. A friend of ours had a brilliant suggestion: feed it to the bears! So we cut out all the crystallized honey into chunks, put them in a box and brought them to the Oakland Zoo to donate to the animals. The zookeeper’s with thrilled! They said the primates love it too!
Happy Thanksgiving from the Bay Area, Rusty!
What a cool idea! I’ve never heard of anyone donating honey to a zoo before, but it’s a perfect use.
I only got 3 pints from 2 frames. Made honey taffy candy, and honey lemon lollipops from the honey, and tealight candles with the wax. Not a lot, but my very first harvest from 2 hives. Southeast Ohio.