I used to keep honey bees at home and always found them fascinating to own and handle. The bees I owned were called Italian bees. They were bright yellow and very gentle. When I found out Adare holds bees, I asked to see their hives. This week I was invited to harvest the honey.
The honey bees on the Adare site are called Northern dark bees and are native to Ireland. These bees are much darker than the bees I used to own, but they are still very gentle to handle. Pauline Walsh, owner of Tigin Honey helps Willie McNamara, greenkeeper at Adare, maintain the bees.
Bee hives are usually split into sections. One section is the brood box, where the queen lays eggs. A unique divider is added to the brood box top, preventing the queen from entering the next section. This section is called super, where the honey is located.
We brought back the super boxes to an empty kitchen in the Manor that the kitchen staff allowed us to use for processing. Of the seven hives at Adare, we harvested honey from two. We knew the honey was ready for harvest because the honey was capped with wax. My job was to cut the caps off with a knife. Cutting the caps allows the honey to start dripping from the frame.
We placed the frames inside a honey extractor. The extractor works by centrifugal force and spins at a high velocity flinging the honey out of the cells. I wish I had the extractor with my bees. It would have saved so much time.
The honey was then collected in buckets, processed, jarred and labeled at Pauline’s facility.
Working with Pauline and Willie was great fun, and it was the first for me to work with bees on a golf course. Being able to collect honey at Adare reminded me how enjoyable it was to do it back home, like the photo below of me with my father uncapping honey in 2016.