Knowledge and experience are two key elements when it comes to producing top quality honey. Bees, left to themselves, will see to it that the honey is good. It is only when the beekeeper gets involved that quality may suffer. While saying this, in the absence of the beekeeper, bees take in nectar from many sources, some of which may be impacted by pesticides. While this is not deliberate, it may nonetheless, go under the radar. Very often beekeepers are aware of crops growing nearby their apiary which, may require pesticide treatments, and so can take precautions to protect the bees within the hives.

Aside from this, there are other impacts which the beekeeper alone is responsible for. Bees often require treatments for certain conditions in the beehive. Deviation from the specified dosage, the time of the year, strength of the colony and if honey is present in the hive, are just a few areas of concern. The main criteria here should be, that there is no chance of any compounds or residues ending up in the honey.

The only thing that should be in the honey is nectar and its constituent parts from the plants.

Beekeepers feed bees at certain times of the year, mainly in the autumn to ensure a good winter food store in the hive. The sugars fed in the autumn will, most likely, be utilised during the winter months. In the event that there are any residual stores left, they will be utilised in early spring when pollens are available, thus supporting brood rearing. Experienced beekeepers may feed sugar syrup in varying dilutions, to increase brood rearing or prevent starvation. This is an area which must be carefully attended to, so that excess sugars are not fed to the bee colony and end up being incorporated into the honey crop. The only thing that should be in the honey is nectar and its constituent parts from the plants.

General beekeeping operations impose responsibility on the beekeeper to avoid introducing contaminants into the honey during manipulations or, at the removal and transport of honey from the hive for processing.

Getting honey processed through the extractor, sieves, settling tanks or other equipment requires the utmost attention to cleanliness and hygiene.

Common sense should prevail, but, knowing the consequences of certain actions or inactions can lead to honey going on the market which could have been of a higher quality. Quality cannot be added at the last operation, so it must start at the hive at the beginning of the beekeeping season. The beehive is a food producing unit and must be treated as such.

A beekeeping year such as we have had, will be hard to surpass. Many newcomers will be attracted to the hobby and hopefully, they will attend local beekeeping courses and get the skills to produce a high quality product. While the hobby produces great satisfaction and a super way to relax, the return in honey may be somewhat fickle but should not be a deterrent.

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