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Raw Honey Beekeeping 101: Everything You Must Know

Sourced from Rural Western Australia

At Bee Happy, we’re passionate about bringing you the finest raw honey, straight from our hives to your table. Our beekeeping process is meticulous and heartfelt, ensuring every jar of honey is packed with the natural goodness and flavour you love. Here’s a detailed peek into how we do it.

Beekeeping Process for Raw Honey

Harvesting

Timing is everything in beekeeping. We typically harvest honey 2-3 times a year, with the main harvest in late summer or early fall. The bees work hard all season, and we wait for the perfect moment when the frames are 80% capped with wax and the honey has just the right moisture content, between 17-20%.

Signs of Readiness:

  • Frames 80% capped with wax: This indicates the honey is mature and ready to be harvested.
  • The honey moisture content at 17-20%: We test this using a refractometer to ensure the honey won’t ferment and will stay fresh.
  • Bees are less active: A sign that the nectar flow has ended and the honey is ready to be collected.

Removing the bees from the supers is a gentle process. We use several methods to guide the bees back to the brood chamber:

  • Smoke Method: Gentle puffs of smoke encourage bees to move away from the honey supers.
  • Bee Escapes: These one-way devices allow bees to exit but not re-enter the supers.
  • Fume Boards: Treated with a bee-repellent chemical, these boards drive bees down from the supers.
  • Leaf Blower Method: A leaf blower gently blows bees off the frames.

Throughout the process, we wear protective gear and work carefully to minimise disturbance and avoid harming the bees. We always leave enough honey (typically 40-60 pounds per hive) for the bees’ winter stores.

Once the bees are removed, the supers are quickly covered and transported to a bee-tight extraction area to prevent robbing by other bees or insects. We also keep detailed records of each harvest, noting the date, amount of honey collected, quality, and any issues encountered.

Filtering, Bottling, and Packaging:

After harvesting, the honey goes through a thorough filtering process to ensure clarity and purity.

Filtering Steps:

  • Initial Straining: Honey is poured through a coarse strainer to remove large particles like wax chunks and bee parts.
  • Fine Filtering: The honey is then passed through progressively finer filters, typically made of stainless steel or food-grade nylon.
  • Settling Tanks: Filtered honey is left to settle in tanks for 24-48 hours, allowing any remaining small particles or air bubbles to rise to the surface.
  • Skimming: The top layer is skimmed off to remove any remaining impurities.
  • Temperature Control: Throughout the filtering process, we maintain the honey at a temperature below 95°F (35°C) to preserve its natural enzymes and properties.

Once filtered, the honey is ready for bottling.

Bottling Process:

  • Preparation: Jars and lids are sterilised to ensure food safety and bottling equipment is cleaned and sanitised.
  • Warming: Honey may be gently warmed to about 95°F (35°C) to improve flow for bottling.
  • Filling: Honey is carefully poured or pumped into jars, avoiding air bubbles and ensuring consistent fill levels. Automated filling machines may be used for larger operations.
  • Sealing: Jars are immediately sealed with airtight lids to prevent moisture absorption.
  • Quality Check: Each jar is inspected for proper fill level, clarity, and secure sealing.

Finally, we move on to packaging and labelling.

Packaging and Labelling:

  • Label Design: Our labels comply with local regulations and include required information such as net weight, producer’s name and address, nutritional information (if required), and batch or lot number for traceability.
  • Label Application: Labels are applied either by hand or with labelling machines, ensuring they are straight and free of bubbles.
  • Additional Packaging: Jars get tamper-evident seals and tags.
  • Boxing: Jars are carefully packed into boxes for shipping or storage.
  • Storage: Packaged honey is stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Distribution Preparation: Orders are prepared for various distribution channels, including farmers’ markets, retail stores, and online sales.

Throughout these processes, we adhere to food safety regulations and maintain meticulous cleanliness to ensure a high-quality product. Whether you’re enjoying our honey at a local market or receiving it through online orders, rest assured it’s handled with the utmost care.

From Our Hive to Your Home

Every step, from harvesting to packaging, is done with a deep respect for the bees and the environment. At Bee Happy, we are dedicated to providing you with the highest quality raw honey, reflecting the hard work of our bees and the beautiful landscapes of Western Australia. Enjoy the rich flavours and natural goodness in every jar, knowing it’s crafted with love and care.

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