Most of April’s weather was sunny and mild. It gave the bees a head start in building up their hive population with early pollen from willows and poplars. Unfortunately May is starting cold, the way April normally does, so we just hope the precipitation (yes, mixed rain and SNOW) will speed up the dandelions and crops for an abundant nectar flow in June. Our bee packages arrived from New Zealand April 19th and installing them in their new homes went well using our new technique. It has been more successful than our previous method of shaking the bees out of their travel box into the hive box. Now we carefully place the small queen cage (the royal compartment!) between two frames, remove frames to make room for the large travel box and pull out the syrup container to let them all free. This allows the bees to move out and join the queen at their own pace and is much less stressful for everyone – including the beekeeper!
Frequently when honey is in the news lately it is to report another case of honey fraud. What exactly is fraudulent honey and why would anyone go to the effort? Honey fraud can be achieved by:
1. dilution with sweetening syrups i.e. corn, cane, beet, rice, wheat, etc.;
2. harvesting immature honey containing too high a moisture content (over 18.6%) then artificially drying it;
3. using ion-exchange resins to remove residues and lighten honey colour;
4. mislabelling the geographical and/or botanical origin of honey;
5. feeding of bees during a nectar flow with artificial sweeteners
The Canadian Honey Council says honey is now the third-favourite food target for adulteration, behind milk and olive oil. The ‘Why?’ is, of course, to make more money. Check back next month where we talk about the best ways to avoid being a victim of honey fraud.