31 Mar. 2000|
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As a producer of comb honey, you have to overcome all these issues before your buyer even gets to the honey.
In fact, I look at it in the opposite way: If you start your beekeeping career by attempting comb honey, you will learn so much, so fast, you will be an experienced beekeeper in a flash. So anyway, if you want to make section honey in your very first year, I totally believe you can do it.
When I want to produce cut comb honey, I just put a super of shallow foundationless frames (with starter strips) above one of the section honey supers. The thin layer of new wax that bees build over the top of cured (or dried) honey is called capping wax. Depending on their genetics, bees either place the capping wax directly on the surface of the honey, or they may leave a little air pocket between the surface of the honey and the wax.
While some honey bees produce both types of capping, some consistently build one kind or the other. The practice of producing chunk honey, which is just a piece of honeycomb submerged in extracted honey, was one way in which beekeepers could sell their wet-capped honey.
Mission StatementHoney Bee Suite is dedicated to honey bees, beekeeping, wild bees, other pollinators, and pollination ecology. This simple fact means your beeswax may contain lots of pesticide, while your honey has virtually none.
Some people feel that even thin surplus is too chewy for comb honey; others think it is entirely acceptable. We think of ourselves as honey producers, but to the comb honey buyer, the wax is everything. Anyone who eats your comb honey is the consumer, whether it is a friend, family member, co-worker, or complete stranger. The look of the product is first, the fragrance is second, the texture is third, and at the very last is taste, the honey. Well, I know many of you don’t care about comb honey, but an entire cadre of readers has been hassling me for nearly four years to write this series.
I take a different view of comb honey production than most, and I disagree with a lot of the conventional wisdom. It is often stated that making comb honey—especially in squares or rounds—should be left to experienced beekeepers. Now, as you can tell, my bees love this particular structure and they thrive in it, but I have yet to figure out how to get comb honey from it because I can’t keep the queen out of the combs.
I can do round or square sections, I can do cut comb or chunk honey, or I can do all four on one hive. And like I said, I’m sure you could get at least some comb honey from a top-bar hive if you knew how to manage it.
These two methods make no difference in the flavor, color, or quality of the honey, but they make the finished combs look dramatically different. Especially back in the heyday of comb honey production, beekeepers found they could get better prices for light-colored, clean looking combs.
If you are opposed to any amount of foundation whatsoever, you will probably need to stick with cut combs, chunk honey, or Bee-O-Pacs. Here in the states there are few manufacturers of comb honey equipment, so it’s hard to be vague.
I put section honey supers—either squares or rounds—above the brood boxes and I find that the queen doesn’t particularly like to lay in these.
The people who want it are willing to pay for it because awesome comb honey is hard to find. This different way of capping partially accounts for the flatter surface of honeycomb as compared to brood comb.