Honey Crystallization: Why Does it Happen and How to Use It Anyway?

Crystallized honey

If you have raw honey, from this season (or from previous seasons), it is possible/likely that at this point in the year, it is starting to crystallize. While I know how to temporarily ‘fix’ the problem, I wanted to know more about WHY it happened (scientist in me). I am lucky to have a good source of information – the beekeepers in the area, so I spoke with people who know and also referenced Google. I found a great bunch of articles online; one in particular that I felt gave a concise summary of why and how crystallization happens. From that, I gleaned the most important points for people to understand; I thought this was good information to share.

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Color Contrast: Light and Black as Night?

Honey in glass jars

So this has been a year of surprises, but I thought I was beyond the big ones now. As you will remember we harvested the majority of the honey from the hives at Whiting Forest the first week in September. We decided that there was still a lot of nice weather and blooming flowers so we put one honey super on each hive to see what would happen. 

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Get out!

Drone bees being evicted from hive

I am a little behind as fall has been really busy at the Gardens, but I have one crazy thing to share! We went into the hives on September 18th. It wasn’t really feeling much like fall yet, but the bees knew!

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Love Hurts

Bee Keeper inspecting hive

So this is a tough edition to write, as I am still sore, literally and figuratively from being stung at the hive this week. Elly and I decided this might be a good opportunity to discuss times and situations when you should NOT go into your hives

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Liquid Gold

Glass jars of honey

WOW! This week I had my mind blown by the process of removing honey from the hives. I will say I had never seen this process in action and had NO IDEA what I was in for. As mentioned in the last edition, the hives were bursting with honey and frankly, we were out of new supers to put on the hives.

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Oh, Honey, Honey

Bee hives at Whiting Forest

These past two weeks, we headed into the hive with the primary goal of checking their available space. We have been seeing an exciting level of honey flow and have added supers again and again. We want to avoid having a HONEYBOUND hive. What is honeybound? Well, as I have learned through this process, a healthy hive must have ample space maintained for the queen to keep producing new bees (brood) in the lower two boxes of the hive. This is the reason we check and treat for mites and inspect for diversity in the age of the brood (eggs and larvae) – all to keep the colony healthy and confident in their queen.

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Combating the Mighty Mites

Varroa mite

Varroa destructor is a mite that feeds on honeybees and is arguably the single largest driver of the global honey bee health decline. As its species name implies, the varroa mites can DESTROY a hive population if not controlled and monitored. 

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The Heat is ON

Bee hives

After a small break for vacation, we checked in on the hives to see how they were doing. If you remember we have three hives. Hive one is the most advanced (from a population and honey production standpoint) because it was started in late April, hive three arrived with a stable queen situation and was off and running, and Hive two was the hive we had to re-queen. While it fell a little behind, it is doing well now. 

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Putting the Pollen in Pollinator

bees

Last week was proclaimed as Pollinator Week in the State of Michigan. As stated in the governor’s proclamation: “Pollination plays a vital role in our national forests and grasslands, which provide forage, fish, wildlife, timber, water, mineral resources, and recreational opportunities as well as enhanced economic development opportunities for communities …” We at Dow Gardens know the value of pollination.

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Enter the Queen

bees

Remember, the last time we were in the Whiting Forest hives, we had Hive #1 – the hive populated using a package of bees at the end of April with an expansion level at this point; Hive #2 – the Nuc hive that was without a queen and the workers were trying to raise a new one; and Hive #3 – the Nuc hive populated with a strong laying queen.

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