Every January, the Central Iowa Beekeepers Association has a seminar. This year the presentations were about creamed honey and swarm trapping.
The first presentation was given by Marlene Boernsen. She showed how to make creamed honey. In order to make creamed honey, one must have a starter. Mrs. Boernsen uses Sue Bees spun honey as her starter. She uses freezed dried fruit to flavor her creamed honeys. She uses one pound of fruit per sixty pounds of honey. One pound of already creamed honey should be used for twelve to thirteen pounds of uncrystallized honey.
Mrs. Boernsen makes three gallon batches at a time. All honey must be warmed so that it has no crystals. The honey’s moisture content should be 18% to 18.5%. Moisture should never be added to the honey. First the uncrystallized honey should be mixed with the starter. If the honey is going to be flavored, the freeze dried fruit should be added to a small container of the honey, mixed well, and then added to the big container of honey. This prevents the freeze dried fruit from clumping. Then the small fruit honey should be added to the bigger container of honey. The honey should not be whipped to prevent air from being added to the honey. After the honey is uniform in color, it should sit overnight in the five gallon bucket. After it has set, all the bubbles on the top of the honey should be removed. The honey should be put into one pound containers (or whatever container it is going to be sold in) no later than a day after it is made. The one pound containers should be put in a fridge that is set to fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. The fridge must be a fridge that can be set to a specific temperature. A lot of beekeepers will use mini-fridges or wine fridges. The honey should be left in the fridge until it is crystallized which takes about six days. Creamed honey should be stored outside of a fridge in a cool dark place.
If one plans on selling creamed honey at fairs or craft shows, the creamed honey must be made in a certified kitchen. If the creamed honey is only going to be sold at farmer’s markets, the creamed honey does not have to be made in a certified kitchen. Creamed honey must be weighed periodically by a certified scale (e.g. postal scale). Mrs. Boernsen suggests marking each container of creamed honey with the day it was made and a batch number. She also suggests giving out lots of free samples.
Here is Mrs. Boernsen mixing up a batch of creamed honey during her presentation.
Bethany and Abigail helped with the snack table. They made rice crispy treats. Bethany (left) is plating cookies.
The second presentation was given by Jamie Beyer and it was on swarm trapping. Jamie gave a similar presentation at CIBA’s March 2018 Meeting. We blogged about that presentation here. This article was written by Dr Leo Sharashkin about swarm traps and includes free swarm trap plans. It is an excellent article.
A swarm is when half of the bees in a hive leaves the hive with the old queen and finds a new home. Most healthy hives will want to swarm, because swarming is how bees reproduce (make another colony) and occupy new habitat.
Swarm traps should be put up in areas near beehives. Traps should be put near timber that is, ideally, one hundred feet from your own hives. Nectar source trees are the best trees to put a swarm trap in. There should be a water source nearby. The entrance should point south or east. The box should be a light color. Honey bees like the same characteristics for their home whether they are a swarm or in a typical beehive.
A trap should have one or two old comb frames in it. The rest of the frames should be new frames because swarms build lots of comb when they move into a new home. A couple cotton balls with a few drops of lemongrass oil should be put in a zip lock bag then put in the bottom of the trap. The trap should be rubbed down with propolis and comb. Honey bees like hives that smell like beehives.
Once a beekeeper catches a couple swarms in one tree they tend to use that tree over and over again.
We learned a lot from this seminar. We now have swarm traps out by our house because we hope to catch swarms this summer. Hopefully, the swarms will not be from our hives.