Frequently Asked Questions
Keen to learn more about our bees and our processes? Check out our most frequently asked questions below! If you still have any questions, then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In a nutshell? Worker bees fly out to the flowers, suck up the nectar, store it in their special honey tummies, take it back to the hive, and spit it into the open cells. At night, the bees fan the nectar with their wings to make a breeze and it off. Eventually the nectar becomes gooey, sticky honey, safely stored in these cells. The bees then seal the cells with a clean white wax, protecting the honey as a winter food source.
This happens every spring and summer. If it’s a strong hive they make enough to survive the winter, when there are fewer flowers to visit. This is why we only harvest in spring and summer! And we ALWAYS leave the bees with enough honey when we harvest.
When a bee finds nectar, the first thing she does is take it back to the hive so the other worker bees can taste it. If it’s good, they all go out and collect more.
The most amazing thing about these girls is they communicate by dancing. If a bee thinks the nectar is good they will dance excitedly so the other bees notice and join in.
The type of dance they do depends on how close the honey is. If it’s nearby the bee who found the nectar will dance in a circle, called a ‘round dance’. If it’s quite a distance they perform the ‘waggle dance’. Believe it or not, the length of time the bee shakes her abdomen tells them how far to fly. These creatures are amazing!
The simple answer is you take the bees to the trees! Essentially the nectar of the blossoms flavours the honey.
We are always scanning for pre-flowering and flowering trees. In this case we identified a stand of grey gums in a location we could get our hives to. The hives are then placed as close to the trees as possible, during their flowering event.
European honey bees can produce large amounts of honey very quickly. Our girls are strong, healthy and can often fill nine frames with honey (a box) in as little as three weeks.
This can translate to as much as 20 kilograms of honey per box. And we often put out 30 to 40 hives at a time.
We’ll only extract honey from hives when there is enough honey to spare, as we always like to leave every hive with at least one full box (up to 20 kilograms of honey) in reserve for these clever, hungry, special little creatures to feed on.
The bee boxes/hives are taken from the site. We use a smoker filled with pine needles to calm the bees during this process.
When this happens, the bees are given an empty box to refill. We take the box back to Mount Henry and the frames are removed from the boxes and uncapped.
They are then spun in a rotary extractor and the honey runs into a storage tank! It’s that simple!
Honey crystallisation is a natural process – and one to be embraced. It is one of the most misunderstood characteristics of honey. It definitely does NOT mean it’s spoiled or past any kind of used by date. In fact, honey doesn’t have a used by date! Honey was found in the Egyptian tombs – still good to go!
According to honey sommelier Jessica Locarnini crystals are good. “They indicate that the honey is natural and has not been pasteurised, which destroys nutrition,” she says.
If it does happen to your jar you can simply place it in hot water to liquefy. We usually put the jar in a saucepan, with water up to the base of the jar, and heat gently on the stove.
There is also reason NOT to liquefy your honey if it does crystallise. Sommelier Jess says it can add another textural dimension to cheese pairing, and can change the sensory description of a honey in terms of colour, visual and of course, texture.
Queen bee: There is one queen bee in each hive/swarm. She is the largest bee and mother to all the bees in her colony. She lays up to 2,000 eggs a day. She can live for one to three years.
Worker bees: They are all FEMALE, and do all the hard work in the hive! They look after the queen and young bees, make honey, guard the hive AND fetch food. Worker bees do each job in turn until they become foragers who fetch food. They work so hard in the summer that they only live for six weeks but in the winter they can live as long as six months.
The drone: The males! Their job is to mate with the queen bee. They have huge eyes to help find the queen and large, powerful wings to fly fast to catch her. Every winter, the worker bees throw out any drones who are eating precious honey instead of mating with the queen. In the cold and without food the drones soon die. Harsh, but true!
When a colony becomes overcrowded some of the bees move out of the hive. To do this they need a new queen bee. The bees raise a new queen bee by feeding a bee larva with extra royal jelly. The day before the new queen hatches, half the worker bees fly away with the old queen, leaving the hive in search of a new home. This is called swarming.
At the moment, we aren’t set up to ship overseas, and due to biosecurity laws, we also can’t ship to Western Australia.