We finally got the winter “porches” on the bee hives here in St. Paul. These are pretty simple things that block direct wind from blowing into the top entrance. I had neglected to put these handy little things in place when I had wrapped the hives with tar paper in early November. At the time, the bees were angry – they were pulling out all the stops and were emitting their alarm pheromone and I had been stung six or seven times on my right hand (remember, I do not wear gloves).
While stapling the folded tar paper porches onto the hives, even with the air temperature in the mid-teens (Fahrenheit) today, several bees flew out and looped about the entrances to check out what the racket was about.
The hives down south – in Racine, MN – have been buttoned up, complete with winter porches, since mid-October. The bees there were happy and could have cared less that I was busy stapling tar paper to their homes.
We won’t be checking hives, again, until mid-winter. In the mean time, we have honey. We have quite a bit of honey, actually. The four hives in St. Paul, MN, produced ≈125 pounds (56.7 kg) of honey, while the four hives in Racine, MN produced slightly less with ≈100 pounds (45.4 kg).
This is the first year that we have had hives at two significantly different locations. Prior to moving to the St. Paul, we did have hives in Proctor as well as north of Duluth, but there was only 26 miles in between those locations. There’s 93 miles between St. Paul and Racine. St. Paul has its urban forests, residential yards with plenty of dandelions in the spring as well as backyard vegetable gardens and thousands of other places for different flowers to grow. Racine is decidedly rural. It’s rural and located in farm country. Even though Racine has vegetable gardens, apple trees, and dandelions, much of the surrounding landscape is covered with alfalfa, clover, oats, corn and soybeans during the growing season.
With the difference in terroir (to borrow term from viticulture), we decided to keep the two varietals separate.
Racine is light with sweet and smoother flowery notes (the jar of honey in the photo, above, that is very light in color, is Racine).
St. Paul is more complex, with a slightly sharper, earthier tones (the jars, above, that are darker are St. Paul).
And now, a bit of shameless self-promotion: if you are interested in participating in getting your mitts on a jar or four, tweet at me or, preferably, drop us an email. A couple caveats: I am unlikely to want to ship honey via the postal service or other big-name courier – honey is heavy and the jars are fragile. But, if you are willing to pay for shipping, then please say so – it will likely double the cost per jar.
Caveat two, if you know that I will be in visiting your particular region, I would be more than happy to bring with me a modest number of jars. In this situation, I am highly unlikely to charge shipping.
Otherwise, if you are in or are going to be in the Twin Cities metro area, or even the Rochester, MN, area, delivery or pick-up can easily be arranged.
Special thanks to Paul Shively for designing this year’s honey jar label.