A Curious Beekeeper has high hopes for “Harvesting Honey” by Wally Shaw

Pleased is a good way to characterize my discovery of Wally Shaw’s "Harvesting Honey" on Amazon (2018, $11.00). Shaw - part of the Welsh Beekeepers Association – has put out marvelous pamphlets in the past which I’ve ordered from their publisher, Northern Bee Books in the UK. I love the title of one: "There are queen cells in my hive: - what should I do?"

I was delighted not to pay for trans-Atlantic shipping.

While the pamphlet was a great reminder of many things having to do with processing liquid honey, I was hoping it would address the "crush and strain method” of processing honey. For those not familiar with it, “crush and strain” is most often used by Top Bar hive beekeepers and those Langstroth beekeepers who either lack access to an extractor or are not processing enough honey to make an extractor worthwhile.

I’m planning to harvest from both my TBH and Warre´ Hive this summer – I was counting on Shaw’s pamphlet to give me insight.

Alas, it wasn’t mentioned.

Shaw does have a good discussion of Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and the consequences of heating liquid honey.

I don’t know how fair it is to judge a pamphlet based on my expectations of what it might contain. I can’t imagine it will sell too many copies in the US.

Shaw covers liquid honey and comb honey, addresses heather honey to say that covering that is really beyond what could be done in a pamphlet. He also talks about creamed honey, but does not mention the Dyce method, at least by name. (Dyce as in Elton J. Dyce for whom the Dyce Lab at Cornell is named.)

New beekeepers will benefit from discussions of how to get bees out of honey supers, how you can decide to harvest honey when it hasn’t been capped over, what you do with wet supers. In those areas he is succinct and accurate.

I very much like his concluding admonition: “Honey is a wonderful and complex product that is easily damaged during its journey from the hive to the jar. It is up to us to bring it to market in the best possible condition so that we maintain reputation and premium status of locally produced, beekeeper honey.”

The pamphlet does not address marketing. I guess that means I’ll be selling local wild flower honey made by free range bees in Downeast, Maine”

Quite the mouthful.

I should make sure my processing permit is in good order. Ah, the business end of beekeeping!

Andrew Dewey