The Bees' Best... From the Hive to You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Frequently Asked Questions
 

How many hives do you have? Where are they located?
How do you harvest your honey?
Is your honey processed or pasteurized?
Does honey spoil or go bad? 
How do you prevent the honey from crystallizing?
Why is my honey darker or lighter than the last jar we purchased?
Why shouldn’t I feed honey to a child under 1 year of age?
How many bees are in a single hive?
Do you get many bee stings?
Do your bees hibernate in the winter?
Can I substitute honey for sugar?

 

 

 

How many hives do you have? Where are they located?
We have twenty-one hives.  Our hives are currently located in our orchard in Greenhill, Pictou County and in a farmer's field near Stellarton, NS. The land around our hives consists of woods, fruit trees and wildflowers.

How do you harvest your honey?
Once removed from the hives, we use an extractor to get the honey out of the combs. An extractor is a round stainless barrel with a place for the frames to sit.  Once the cappings are removed the frames are placed in the frame clips and then spun around until all the honey comes out of the combs by centrifugal force. The bottom of the extractor has a valve for draining the honey. Using an extractor enables beekeepers (and bees) to use the frames of empty comb again, saving the bees time and honey in creating new comb each time they're needed. The extracted honey is passed through a series of baffles that removes small pieces of wax. The honey is then gently heated to 100° Fahrenheit and filtered before bottling.

 

Is your honey processed or pasteurized?
Our honey is not pasteurized
so it will retain its natural sweet flavor as well as all the enzymes, antioxidants, and flavor that make honey such a wonderful raw food.   Compare it to processed store bought honey, you'll immediately tell the difference.

 

Does honey spoil or go bad?
Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize.

 

How do you prevent the honey from crystallizing?
Our honey may granulate in a shorter amount of time than commercially produced honeys purchased at a grocery store. This will likely occur sooner if stored in cool or cold places. Crystallization or granulation does not harm the honey or decrease its quality.  The ideal situation for honey storage would be in an environment that is 70-80 degrees in a dark cupboard (or someplace out of direct sunlight) with the lid screwed on tight to help keep the moisture content low.  Direct sunlight could cause honey to darken and lose some of its flavour.

Don’t worry if it granulates, it is easy to liquefy honey... just screw the cap tight and put it into hot water. The crystals should melt and become liquid again. Repeat if necessary. If your honey is "raw", unprocessed (but filtered) honey, make sure the temperature of the hot water is not over 100° Fahrenheit to preserve the full "naturalness" of the honey. Heating in the microwave or using direct heat is not recommended because the honey can quickly be overheated and burnt.

 

Why is my honey darker or lighter than the last jar we purchased?

The color and flavor of honey is a direct result of the nectar sources that the bees have been visiting. Typically the earlier harvests are lighter than the later harvests.

 

Why shouldn’t I feed honey to a child under 1 year of age?

DO NOT feed your infants less than one year old, honey. Honey may contain Clostridium botulinum spores that can cause infant botulism - a rare but serious disease that affects the nervous system of young babies (under one year of age). C. botulinum spores are present throughout the environment and may be found in dust, soil and improperly canned foods. Adults and children over one year of age are routinely exposed to, but not normally affected by, C. botulinum spores. Unlike milk, fruit juices and other foods, pasteurization will not kill these spores because honey cannot be heated hot enough to kill the spores without burning the honey. Honey is safe for children and adults over the age of one. It is similar to the reason we sterilize baby bottles, but simply wash our own dishes or use boiled water instead of tap water for formula.

How many bees are in a single hive?
At the peak of the season a single hive can have between 40,000-60, 000 bees.  There is only one queen per hive, a small
number of drones (males), with the majority being worker bees (female).  The queen can lay up to 2000 eggs per day and can live 2-5 years but she is typically replaced after one or two seasons.  A new bee colony is started with only 1 queen and about 3000 worker bees in the spring. 

 

Do you get many bee stings?
Scott wears protective gear when working with the bees. When entering a hive a smoker is used to apply smoke that calms the bees.  It is
common to get a few stings during the summer season when working with the hives. Unless we are disturbing the hives, the bees are very docile and unlikely to sting.

 

 

Do your bees hibernate in the winter?
No,
bees do not hibernate. They stay active inside the hive all winter, forming a cluster to stay warm During the winter months, they eat the honey we have left for them. In late winter the queen starts laying eggs again to build up the colony population in preparation for the spring and summer activities.

 

Can I substitute honey for sugar?

Honey is a natural and unrefined sweetener and is considered healthier than sugar due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.  It also will keep your baked goods moister longer. Here's how to substitute honey for the sugar in a recipe.

  • For recipes that call for 1 cup of sugar or less, honey can be substituted in equally.

  • For recipes that call for over 1 cup of sugar, substitute 2/3 to 3/4 cup of honey for every cup of sugar.

  • Since honey is a liquid, you will need to reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup less liquid for every cup of honey used in the recipe.

  • Because of honey's acidic properties, add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of honey used in a recipe.

  • Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees or so and keep an eye on the oven because honey causes baked goods to brown quicker.

  • When experimenting with baking with honey you can try substituting half of the sugar in a recipe for honey until you get confident in how it bakes.

 

 

 

 
 
 
Scott Stackhouse
Beekeeper
scott@northumberlandhoney.ca
 
 
 
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