bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Unseasonal report

It's another strange honey season in Southern England — but then beekeepers always say that.

We have two main nectar flows: one in May and the other in late-June and early July; the season usually ends about 15 July. This year, the first flow was fine — but unfortunately it's dominated by oil seed rape, a bland and troublesome honey because it crystallizes very quickly, often before it is extracted.

Just as the second flow was ready to start, a benign spell of weather degenerated into showery and cooler days. Today, a summer storm passed through causing disruption on its way from Iberia to Northern Europe. My colonies haven't yet brought in a honey huge surplus, but there is time yet if the sun is given a chance to shine.

Who knows, it might even be another good year for heather, that king of honey plants, which yields nectar here in August. Heather doesn't always provide a reliably big harvest, but over the past few years it has excelled itself. The problem is that apart from the New Forest there isn't much heather to be found amongst the chalklands of Southern England.


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