'For thousands of years they have constructed their marvelous combs, to which we can add nothing, from which we can take nothing;
combs that unite in equal perfection the science of the chemist, the geometrician, the architect and the engineer’
What is Wild Honey?
The uniform cell size of foundation is designed to result in a large population of worker bees - an industrial-era method geared to increase honey yield. However, this technique dramatically reduces the drone (male) population in each hive and although this method results in a higher honey yield for the beekeeper, the long term effect is an ever diminishing gene pool and reduction in adaptation and resilience in the wider population of bees. Natural comb beehives allow the bees to build their own comb and determine their own population mix.
Additionally, if bees are located on agricultural sites and visiting conventional crops, or even in highly urbanised environments, there is a significant risk they could be carrying toxic chemicals back to the hive which are also absorbed in the beeswax. This results in sub-lethal effects on the bees and toxic residues in the honey products.
A scoping study in the US in 2010 found a staggering 121 different types of pesticides in beeswax samples, and a recent study in Sydney found traces of lead, arsenic, zinc and manganese in Sydney urban hives.
COLD PRESSING vs EXTRACTING
One of the reasons for the difference in quality is the fact that honey is hygroscopic - meaning that it absorbs moisture from the environment. When beekeepers extract honey using a centrifuge, the honey is flung out in small droplets, increasing the surface area exposure to the environment. In the process, the honey may lose some of its remarkable natural aromatic qualities and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These compounds 'contribute to the biomedical activities of honey, especially the antioxidant effect'*. In addition, conventional honey is often heated beyond ‘beehive temperature’ (35°C) to speed the extraction or bottling process, further damaging these unique properties and denaturing enzymes.
Within an article published in Food Chemistry Journal in 2017, the authors concluded that the 'Nutritional contents (total carbohydrates, total lipids, total proteins, flavonoids, and ascorbic acid) and minerals (K, Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Li, Zn) were higher in pressed honey. The quantity of pollen in pressed honey samples was 5.6-fold higher than in centrifuged (extracted) samples.'
* Volatile Compounds in Honey: A Review on Their Involvement in Aroma, Botanical Origin Determination and Potential Biomedical Activities, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Various Authors, December, 2011
This honey is properly ripened by the bees and will not spoil.
We take great care to only harvest 100% properly ripened combs of honey by hand.
This is not possible for large scale commercial beekeepers who are harvesting tonnes of honey in a single day. Bees are often cleared out of boxes with leaf blowers, causing mayhem in the apiaries and potential for disease transfer. Honey is often harvested right down to the queen excluder, leaving little food for the colony and over stimulating the foraging response of the colonies as they strive to replace their food stores.
In contrast, we only harvest from colonies with a genuine surplus to share, always leaving plentiful supplies for the bees. We use ‘clearer boards’ to harvest the boxes – a gentle approach that does not disturb the colony.
Taking these labour intensive measures results in a high quality product, as honey from properly ripened combs has a superior flavour and body to that from partially ripened combs. Our honey has a very low moisture content and a concentrated flavour profile with heady aromas – an end result that is appreciated by honey lovers and some of the most acclaimed chefs in Australia.
WARRE POST-BROOD HONEY
The post-brood combs that are harvested from the top of the hive have been present in the colony for up to 5 years and have a high quantity of propolis (plant kino/resin gathered and modified for use in the hive by the bees) and bee-bread (pollen that has been gathered and processed/fermented inside the hive by the bees). The combs have come through the broodnest over time and contain the essence of both the surrounding environment (phytochemical) and the bee colony superorganism (entomological), adding another dimension of taste and medicinal activity to the honey.
For more information about the process of post-brood honey, please read an article about our collaboration with Wildflower Brewing on their beer called Hive: Post Brood.
Any new research or results about this very special type of honey will be added to the Articles and Research page. Stay tuned!
The remaining comb is cold pressed, settled and the resulting Wild honey is then bottled in glass jars.
The post-brood honey is generally harvested once near the end of the season, when we are preparing the hives for the cooler months. Once pressed or strained, we bottle the honey immediately into glass jars. On particularly cold days, we gently warm the honey to 22°C to bottle.