Hudson Hives - What's the Buzz?
Welcome to the Hudson Hives Blog where we talk all about Bees, Honey & Beekeeping
About our Blog
We started this blog to share our love about bees, honey and beekeeping. Each blog will feature interesting facts about bees, honey and beekeeping and will include yummy recipes, DIY crafts and skincare recipes.
This blog discusses:
About Hudson Hives
Hudson Hives is a family owned apiary located in Hudson, MA. Honey is raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered, & unadulterated and retains all the healthy benefits that mother nature intended. We hand bottle, label and package in our Hudson Hives' studio.
As founders of Hudson Hives, Stephen and Jen blended their interest and passion of beekeeping and plants together to establish Hudson Hives.
To learn more about how and why we started Hudson Hives click here
Stephen is a beekeeper and first became interested in bees in Ireland where a family member was a beekeeper. Stephen was trained through the Worcester County Beekeepers Association and is a member. In his spare time Stephen is a historic British Reenactor. You can find him on Lexington Green on Patriots Day.
Jen loves plants and is a certified herbalist and aromatherapist . She formulates and handcrafts all of Hudson Hives' products using honey, beeswax, herbs and essential oils. Jen loves to spend time outdoors hiking, kayaking or paddle boarding, doing yoga and is obsessed with hippy vans.
Right now we are in the middle of winter with a fresh blanket of snow. The bees are snug as a bug huddled in a cluster with the queen in the center. The bees shiver to promote heat and take turns being in the center of the cluster. The inside temperature of their winter cluster is about 95 degrees.
In the fall beekeepers prepare hives for the winter, treating hives for Varroa Mites, a microscopic mite which is a debilitating parasite of the honeybee, causing loss of the bee colony. Beekeepers make sure the bee colony has enough food as the colony needs up to 100 pounds of honey to eat throughout the winter. The amount of honey needed for the bees depends on how strong the bee colony is and how warm winters have been. A warm winter, above 40°F (4°C), keeps the colony active which uses more energy than they would during a cold winter. A cold winter, below 30°F (-1°C), results in bees remaining in the cluster and conserving their energy. The more energy that the bees use, the more food that they need to eat to replenish that energy.
While overwintering the queen slows down or even stops laying brood (baby eggs). The beekeeper will make sure the front entrance to the hive is open so that the hive is ventilated so moisture doesn't build up. There is a saying beekeepers use "a wet hive is a dead hive". The opening needs to be clear of snow and debris so that bees can come in and out of the hive as needed. On warm sunny winter days it's not surprising to see bees coming out of the hive to relieve themselves (yep they have been holding it in just waiting for a warm sunny winter day).
Beekeepers utilize this quieter time during the winter to prepare for the upcoming busy months and may build frames for the hive.
Why does Honey Crystallize and How to Fix It?
Why does RAW UNFILTERED HONEY crystalize?
All RAW UNFILTERED honey will crystalize over time; the type of honey, method of storage and cooler temperature can impact how quickly it will crystalize.
Discovering tiny white specks or noticing a distinct change in consistency of your honey may be concerning to those not familiar with honey crystallization. When raw honey crystallizes it often lightens in color. The consistency change starts at the bottom and crawls towards the top. The honey may feel hard or taste gritty.
Composition of Honey
To understand crystallization you need to understand honey composition. The color, flavor, and composition of honey varies, depending on the bees’ nectar source and type of soil, climate, wind and sun that the plant is exposed to during the season. The Beekeeper has no control over the bees or the weather and conditions. It’s all up to Mother Nature. Each season the honey is different which makes it fun to try different honeys. In fact there are over 3,000 different varietals of honey around the world (that’s an entire blog story…stay tuned).
Honey is a complex carbohydrate composed of fructose and glucose in varying ratios depending on the nectar source. In addition, honey contains proteins, enzymes, amino acids, minerals, and organic compounds or plant based essential oils, as well as pollen, propolis and bits of beeswax. Honey also consists of 16-18% of water added by the bees.
So why does honey crystalize?
1) COMPOSITION: The simple reason why honey crystalizes is that honey has high concentrations of natural sweeteners know as glucose and fructose that separates easily depending on the percentage of each sugar, creating crystals that cling to the bits of pollen, propolis and beeswax that is found in RAW UNFILTERED Honey. Honeys higher in fructose will crystallize more slowly and honeys higher in glucose will crystalize faster.
2) TEMPERATURE: Honey that has been held at very high temperatures and very low temperatures will crystalize more slowly, or not at all. One of the reasons most grocery store honey will not crystallize is because its been pasteurized which requires very high heat (over 110 degrees). Enzymes add nutritional value and are highly sensitive to heat which is why honey should never be heated up higher than 100 degrees.
3) HONEY PROCESS: Honey has to have particles such as bits of pollen, beeswax or propolis for the sugar crystals to form around. Another reason grocery store honey will not crystallize is because its been heavily filtered. WHY? This is done to prevent crystallization. However this heavily filtered honey no longer has all the pollen, propolis and bits of beeswax and healthy benefits that come from consuming RAW UNFILTERED honey. All that is left behind is a honey stripped down to sugars.
4) TIME: Almost all RAW UNFILTERED honey varieties will crystalize eventually. The rate of crystallization varies between different types of honey. For some it takes years, and for others crystallization can occur almost before the bees have capped the honey in the comb. There are a few kinds that crystallize very slowly. Acacia, tupelo, and sage are a few of these slowly crystallizing honeys. Clover honey tends to crystalize faster.
Remember, Over time RAW UNFILTERED honey will crystalize because of the mixture of glucose, fructose & bits of pollen, propolis & beeswax. This is normal. It doesn't mean the honey has gone bad, it means you have a great honey.
Buy Local UNFILTERED RAW Honey
Is Honey Crystallizing a Bad Thing?
NO! Crystallizing does not mean the honey is bad! The appearance may look "off’ but the flavor and quality is fine. Some people prefer crystalized honey because it’s less messy and can be spread on toast or bread or mixed in tea or used as a substitute for sugar in baking. I love crystalized honey to use as a face exfoliant. Mix a small amount of honey in the palm of your hand or a small bowl and add a little bit of warm water and gently scrub face or feet.
Interesting fact: They have found honey in ancient tombs and the honey is still edible.
How Do You Fix Crystalized Honey?
The good news is that crystalized honey can be fixed to become liquid again. The technique is to simply heat the honey on the stove in a warm water bath. Do not microwave or place in a pot of boiling water.
STEP 1. Place the honey into a glass container if it did not come in a glass container. Make sure to remove the lid from the container.
STEP 2. Place the container in a pot of water with the water 3/4 of the way up on the jar. Heat the pot on a stove over a medium heat until it returns back to liquid. Heat the water no higher than 100 degrees F to preserve the health benefits of the honey. (use a kitchen thermometer to check temperature)
Enzymes add nutritional value and are highly sensitive to heat which is why honey should never be heated up higher than 100 degrees or heat honey in a microwave.
How to store honey
Store honey at room temperature, and not in a cool cupboard, or in the refrigerator. We store honey on our kitchen counter. Keeping it in a warm sunny window can help. Remember the honey will eventually crystalize again so just do the warm water bath technique.
Featured Honey - Japanese Knotweed
About Japanese Knotweed Honey
Japanese Knotweed is a dark, robust honey that has an earthy, nutty sweetness. It's a complex honey with so many flavor notes. I like to compare it to a wine like a French Bordeaux.
Bees forage on this tall towering bamboo like plant in late summer/early fall which offers a rich source of late season nectar for honeybees and other pollinators.
Pairings: Japanese Knotweed stands will on its own or pair with cheese, drizzle on pancakes, waffles or crepes or a warm bowl of oatmeal. It's great for baking or making homemade granola. Our favorite is to make a great marinate. See recipe below.
Ways to use Honey - Recipes
Air Fryer or Grilled Steak Tips
1-1.5 pd steak tips* (you can also use other protein such as chicken, shrimp, salmon or tofu. You may have to adjust cooking time)
1/4 cups soy sauce
1 tbsp chopped garlic (we use already minced garlic)
2 tbsp of Hudson Hives Japanese Knotweed Honey
1 tsp of fresh grated ginger (we store our ginger root in the freezer and grate it frozen peel and all)
Combine all ingredients and marinate for 1 hour (or longer) in the refrigerator.
Preheat air fryer at 400 for 5 minutes. (You can also grill)
Spray bottom of air fryer basket with nonstick spray and cook steak tips for 5-6 minutes then check for doneness. Cook longer if needed.
Optional: Toss asparagus (or any veggie) with 1/2 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt until evenly coated. Add to air fryer basket & cook
*We purchased steak tips from a local farm. Nothing beats local beef grass fed.
Recipe from letthebakingbegin.com (we made changes to original recipe adjusting cooking time, asparagus recipe & image)
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog. We hope you enjoyed learning more about bees, honey and beekeeping.
Leave a comment, ask a question and check out our website and social media for upcoming events, more information about honey, bees and beekeeping and to purchase Hudson Hives products.
BEE Happy and Healthy,
Jen & Steve