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Local Hogs Back Honey - Hogs Back Brewery

Local Hogs Back Honey

We caught up with Astrid, owner of the Hog's Back Bees who make the honey sold in the Brewery Shop, to see how they are getting on this winter.

Q: What happens to the bees in winter?

A: Honey bees do not hibernate but they will stay in the hive when it is cold, dark, very wet. If it’s a calm, sunny day, they will venture out, even if it’s cold (about 8C+).  But they don’t produce any honey over winter as most spring flowers require warmth of about 14C+ to produce the nectar the bees need to make honey.

Hogs Back bee hives

Q: How do you keep the bees warm in winter?

A: In winter the bees work hard to maintain a temperature of around 27C even if it freezes outside! They need to eat their honey food stores to be to generate heat to keep the colony warm. Our hives have an open mesh floor for ventilation and in winter we place thick insulation under the roof so the warm air that the bees generate cannot escape through the roof.

I also strap up the taller hives to make sure they don’t get blown over during winter storms!

Hogs Back bees

Q: When will the bees begin to forage?
A: The Queen starts laying eggs later in January, building up the size of her colony ahead of the first spring nectar flow.  They need large numbers of flying honey bees to forage for nectar, to make honey, and pollen to feed the larvae.  Spring wild flowers such as dandelions are vitally important for honey bees and other pollinators as they are a great source for both nectar and pollen.

Q: How many bees will be in a colony?

A: That depends!  In winter the colonies are very small - between 5-15,000 honey bees. But in summer colonies can have up to 50-60,000 honey bees.

Q: When will your first honey harvest be?

When we have fields with rapeseed in spring and the weather is warm enough for the flowers to produce nectar we tend to have a spring harvest in May. Last year it was cold and wet in spring and we did not have any spring honey. The main honey harvest is around the end of June until the end of July, depending on the weather.

Hogs Back bee hives

We’ll catch up with Astrid later in the year but fingers crossed for a better spring harvest this year!

Hogs Back Honey is available from the Brewery Shop.

Hogs Back Honey

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