Harvesting Honey in Exuma
We have a honey marketing facility here is Exuma. So next time you are looking for that unique gift to take home, why not buy a jar of 100% natural honey from Exuma.
I just spent a fascinating day at the headquarters where BJ spent the morning showing us around and answering our many questions. They have more than a dozen hives and as the many local plants and trees come into bloom, so the pace of activity at the production site speeds up, this time of year being their busiest.
We watched as BJ sprayed a hive with smoke to calm the bees, although we were assured that this type of bee is favored because of its lack of aggression. Then slowly and carefully he removed the lid exposing the top box. Another puff of smoke and he starts to very carefully remove one of the 9 panels the spanned the box. On the panel were maybe a thousand bees. BJ gave a sharp shake and the bees fell off or flew away.
Then that panel was put in a separate box to be processed and a new clean panel put in its place. There is about half inch gap between the panels and the foraging bees bring the pollen back to the hive entrance at the base of the stack of boxes. The pollen is then transferred to a worker bee that makes its way up the gap through the stack and the produce is put into the honeycomb and sealed with bees wax. The collection process was repeated for the remaining panels until we had a box with 9 new panels inside, ready to be placed back on the stack when we had gone through some of the lower panels.
All this was done without gloves, just a beekeepers protective hat. It was obvious that the beekeeper had to be confidant, move slowly and carefully, especially when rebuilding the hive as he lowered each box back in position taking great care not to crush any bees.
The predominant tree that is currently in bloom is the Logwood Tree and the honey from this tree is paler and processed separately from other blossoms that occur later.
Once the full panels reach the processing area. the wax is scrapped off, exposing the raw honey. The panels are then placed in a large centrifuge, spun at high speed so the honey flies out of the panel and slides down inside the drum and is filtered and bottled.
In a hive there are around 1000 bees on each panel and more than 90 % are female. The male bee's only function is to fertilize the Queen, a job that costs them their lives. There is just one queen who lays eggs for 2 to 5 years. When she is past her prime she is replaced by feeding a replacement with Royal Jelly which will become the next queen. It's a tough life being a worker bee and their life will last around only 2 months.
The hub of this growing industry is at the Exuma Foundation located on the Queens Highway roughly halfway between GeorgeTown and the airport, and that is where you can buy your special Exuma Honey.