Honey Harvest Season – Astor Apiaries

Honey Harvest Season


Did you know it takes 2 million blooms to produce 1 pound of honey? Honey bees work incredibly hard to forage and collect every last drop. A life's work for an individual worker bee amounts to 1/12th teaspoon of honey. It only makes sense to savor every drop!

Our NYC Raw Honey is light in color, generally a very yellow-orange color. Its flavor is bright and most people find some citrus and mint notes when they try it. The predominant nectar source in this honey is the Linden tree, also know as Basswood or Lime. The Linden tree has been planted in sidewalks and greenspaces throughout the city. In a recent article I read, they estimate 30,000 Linden trees planted throughout the 5 boroughs.

Linden is not the only floral source you'll find in our honey. With so many decorative plants and flowers used in the tiny front yards of buildings, you'll find nectar from rose, black-eyed susans, and more.

When these flowers bloom, we refer to it as a nectar flow. This is when the bees are working around the clock to pack away as much nectar as possible. For our area, June is our main flow. We have to be vigilant of how much space the bees need in their hives. Too little space and they may pack it full of honey and then swarm. A single hive and all 5-10 pounds of weight in a single day during the flow.

Once in the hive, the nectar has to be concentrated. The water must be evaporated so it doesn't begin to ferment. They will take the nectar solution from 80% water : 20% sugar and dry it out until it's 80% sugar : 20% water. Really, they need to get the water content down below 17-18%. At this point, the nectar has 'ripened' into honey and is shelf-stable as long as it's sealed. The bees cap the honey in a cell with some beeswax and it's good to last for a few days or even well into next year in the comb. The bees will continue to collect and process the nectar as long as there is a flow. This allows us to take their surplus without harming the colony.

We remove the bees from the box we'll take. After collecting boxes from all of our locations, we setup our extractor and do one big harvest here in Astoria, Queens. If we did nothing else, the whole harvest could be done in a day or two, but usually it takes a handful of days while we are also packing orders, visiting hives, etc. All those things a small business owner must stay on top of.

Harvesting is pretty typical. We've got to uncap the frames and then spin the honey out in the extractor. Once it's free of the comb we put it through a strainer to remove debris and large pieces of wax. Finally it goes into buckets and awaits it's time to be bottled.

We bottle our honey as needed to ensure we don't end up with a ton of crystalized honey in jars. We're able to keep it in its liquid form longer this way. Our 6 and 12 ounce jars are the perfect size to get for yourself or to send a little piece of NYC to family or friends.


By the way, if you do end up with a jar that has begun to crystalize, don't panic. This is a natural behavior of honey under the right conditions. IT HAS NOT SPOILED. Just take the jar and place it in a hot water bath for 10-15 minutes. You can boil a pot of water and take it off the heat before you add your jar. You can also get hot water out of the tap and let the jar sit in the water until the honey loosens up. And don't worry, our beautiful label will not be ruined after a water bath. We specifically chose a high-quality water proof label for this purpose. (Pro tip: If you're a beekeeper looking for a good honey label that won't get ruined, we love our labels from Sticker Mule.)

There's nothing better than to hear how much our customers enjoy our honey. It really brings everything full circle for us. Make sure to place an order (or two) on our New York City Raw honey and to sign up for our newsletter for all of our updates. 

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into how we harvest our honey. Have questions? Let us know at hello@astorapiaries.com.

Take care! -Nick

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