Hany's Harvest is thrilled to offer small batch, raw, unfiltered, treatment-free honey.
Where it's from
Our honey is harvested from our very own apiaries in upstate New York, with our primary apiary currently located in the mid-Hudson Valley.
These are small apiaries, where the bees have plenty of food to forage and less competition. Moreover, with less hives, we are able to pay more attention to the needs of each colony (although we largely let the bees be!)
How it's made
First and foremost, a new colony is placed into a new hive box which it will call home. Over the next few months, each colony will establish itself, building combs to store honey and rear its brood (baby bees). Once a colony has established itself and has enough food stored up, we collect just enough honey that the honeybees have plenty to meet their needs. We do our best to ensure they have enough food stores to make it through the cold northern winters.
The frames are gently removed from the hive with minimal disturbance to the bees and then either spun in our extractor and/or pressed in our honey press to separate the honey from the combs. Any intact wax comb is then available to return to the hives, saving the bees from the energy-intensive task of building wax comb from scratch.
Our Philosophy & Approach
Live and Let Bee
In the wild, bees typically build a hive in the hollow of a tree trunk where thick wood provides plenty of insulation and the great white apes are not constantly peaking their heads in and disturbing their flow.
In human-made hives, the bees aren't afforded such peace of mind. The change in temperature and humidity caused by opening a hive just once - especially in colder weather - can take a week to be restored. This is a big energy cost to the hive which could be otherwise directed. Additionally, bees choose where to place their nectar and their eggs based on proximity to air currents and constant disruptions can throw off these choices as well.
Of course we have to monitor hive health, ensuring there is ample food, a laying queen and so on...but we do so as minimally and with as much discernment as possible, so as to give the bees the most stable environment possible.
Strained and Not Filtered
Much of the honey sold on the shelves today has been both heated and finely filtered to improve clarity and lighten color. In the process of doing so, however, much of the beneficial elements of honey are destroyed or removed. By the time honey has been heated over 104 degrees, hundreds of the enzymes are destroyed. When a fine filter is used - typically less than 600 microns - many compounds, such as anti-bacterial propolis, is entirely removed from the honey.
We strain our honey through a coarse mesh of 1800 microns, preserving all these essential ingredients. Our honey never sees temperatures in excess of the mid-90s, or the max temperature ever seen in hives in our local area. Thus, we can ensure that all the beneficial components of the honey are preserved.
Most people may not be aware that the majority of commercial US beekeepers use miticides - toxic chemicals - in bee hives to ward off honeybees' perceived biggest threat - the deadly varroa mite. And this very same honey that has been treated with these foreign chemicals qualifies for the USDA organic label!
We do no such thing with our hives. And before we explain, it's important to note that we understand the decisions that many commercial beekeepers make, as the varroa mite has decimated the honeybee population in many countries and this has crippled the bottom line of many commercial ventures. But there's a bigger picture in which we believe that treatments are detrimental in the long run.
When chemicals are put in the hives that are strong enough to kill mites, they are very disturbing to the bees. Sometimes, the bees will abandon the colony. Sometimes the Queen will stop laying eggs. And what's more, The evolutionary order of things is disturbed in an alarming way. As with any pest, immunity develops towards these miticides over time and we get "Super Mites". Conversely, bees that are not developing natural resistance to the mites are allowed to survive, thereby artificially propagating weak genetics into the gene pool.
In countries such as South Africa, where beekeepers universally agreed not to use chemicals against mites, there were a few years of substantial losses, followed by an equilibrium where the honeybees then began to prosper again with mites only being a minor nuisance.
We wish for the same in the USA and have joined the ranks of a growing number of beekeepers committed to this cause. There is a lot of mythology and fear spread - and even state laws that seek to stifle our movement - but we hope that with more awareness and education we can shift the paradigm.
Reverence & Respect
The more we learn about bees, the more we are amazed by the behavior of these creatures. We're constantly discovering new things about bee behavior and we can only imagine what we have yet to understand. Bees have evolved over hundreds of millions of years to become what they are today. Humans have only meddled in their affairs for a couple thousand years. For these reasons, rather than think we as humans can save and improve upon the condition of bees, we approach the bees more humbly, thanking them for their bounty and the lessons they teach us.
With each jar of Hany's Harvest Honey that is sold, we can deepen our journey into beekeeping and cultivating a more respectful culture worthy of these majestic creatures.