In our area, honey bee colonies gather nectar from many different kinds of flowers throughout the summer growing season. They convert the nectar into honey by removing the excess water and adding enzymes which preserves the sugars in the nectar. They store the honey in there nests as a source of food during the winter months. Honey bees are one of the few insects that do not do into a dormant state during the winter.
We find that honey bee colonies in our area need approximately 60 - 80 pounds of honey stored up in there nests by November so that they don't run out of food before flowers start blooming again the next spring. The amount of honey an indivuidual colony of honey bees can make and store away for winter varies greatly from season to season, location to location, and colony to colony.
Some of the factors that influence a colonies ability to store honey in their nest include the overall health of the bees, the number and types of flowers in proximity to the hive. (Bees will gather nectar from flowers in an area about two miles in all directions from their hive. That's the equivalent of 8,000 acres.) Certain times of the summer there aren't enough flowers blooming to provide the bees with the nectar they need for flying and producing young bees. This lack of flowers may be caused by excessively dry weather or by there just being the right kinds of plants in the area that produce flowers during that time period. If that happens the bees will be forced to start eating the honey they have already stored This can have a negative impact on the amount of extra honey the bees produce that we as humans can harvest without having a negative impact on the bees.
On average our colonies are able to store about 80 to 100 pounds of honey. That means that we can harvest 20 - 30 lbs of honey for our use. The plants in our area which produce the most nectar for our local bees are dandelion, black locust, tulip trees, clover, sumac, and basswood. Since we don't have enough nectar from one specific type of plant the honey from our area is considered wildflower honey. Varietal honey's (i.e. clover or orange blossom honey) comes from areas where the bees are getting nectar from 100's of acres of just that one type of plant.
We use the honey we harvest in a variety of ways. Some is provided to the members of our hive service maintenance program as part of the service we provide them. Some is fed back to weak or new colonies of bees to give them a boost back to health.
We do at times have excess that we are able to sell to the community. Please check with us if you're interested in purchasing honey. You can also find local honey at the gift shops at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY, the Greenwich audubon in Greenwich, Ct, and the John Jay Homestead in Bedford, NY.