Honey 3
The final product
In a normal year we take off some honey in June. This springtime honey usually sets quite quickly which is thought to be due to the presence of nectar from the dandelion.

A second crop of honey is taken off in the second week in August. This honey sets quite slowly and sometime is still liquid after some years. The honey taste varies from year to year. The honey obtained in 2012 although disappointing in quantity was especially delicious. It was much darker than usual and had more of a tang to it.

The summer of 2013 was an extremely good season for honey, which was quite light in appearance but equally delicious.

2014 proved to be a year to remember. Some Springtime honey was taken off in June; the supers were already refilling in the hot summer.

2015/16 - the summers were disappointing; the honey yields were equally disappointing.
A frame of honey ready for extraction.
The cappings produced by the black bee are white.
This National frames holds about 3 lb honey.
Honey composition
honey composition bar chart
The pie-chart shows the average composition of honey. The nectar (mainly sucrose) which the bees collect is broken down into its two main constituents glucose and fructose by the bees adding the enzyme invertase. The proportions of these sugars determine the setting property of the honey. Honey with a higher glucose content granulates rapidly and conversely those with a higher fructose content stay liquid often for many years. Other sugars include maltose.

Other substances include organic acids, mineral elements, and amino acids. These are responsible for producing the very characteristic tastes and aromas of different honeys.

Local honey also contains pollen grains from those flowers on which the bees have been foraging. Identifying these grains produces a kind of unique fingerprint by which the honey can be shown to be genuinely local.
For some information on honey and hay fever see this link.

The proportion of water is important. The bees evaporate off water from the nectar collected until the water content is between 17 - 20%. Honey contains yeasts but at this concentration no fermentation occurs. Honey, however, is hygroscopic and if left open moisture will be absorbed. If the water content raises slightly above the critical then fermentation can occur but this is usually not a problem if the honey is used and not allowed to stand for any length of time.

With a pH of about 4 i.e. on the acid side, honey is a natural antiseptic, and can be used with advantage for wound dressing especially for burns.
Killowen honey jar
black bee honey frame
Killowen honey jar
The honey which we get in this area of South Cork is from the trees, shrubs, and wild flowers only.
The quantity of honey is consequently quite limited but the quality never fails to disappoint.
The honey is raw, coarse sieved, and unheated so retaining all the natural flavours and pollen grains.
Next Page: Honey 4: Medicinal Properties
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