-Posted by Isaac
This summer we conducted a grand experiment in trying to produce buckwheat honey.
Actually, we've been fooling around with buckwheat for three years now, little half-arce plots on my sister's produce farm and experiments in the garden.
We knew that buckwheat grows fast, four weeks to bloom, and we knew that the bees love it.
Although we've had many buckwheat requests over the years, we just didn't know if it would be worth it to try and produce the black, rich, bold honey.
This year the opportunity presented itself. My brother Justin, the progressive grain farmer, had twenty acres of rye growing as a cover crop. He planned on harvesting it for seed in July then planting something else to go into winter. Buckwheat didn't exactly fit the bill, but Justin is a good guy and through my brotherly persuasion we got the buckwheat idea rolling.
While waiting for the July planting, we decided to do another garden plot:
|"The throw-down" -- Bridger's seeding technique.|
This small area isn't exactly enough to make a honey crop, but it's fun to watch the bees on the buckwheat.
Plus we're somewhat lazy gardeners and cover cropping most of the garden with a thick legume meant minimal weeding during the dog days of August.
(Why sweat over onions and tomatoes when good ol' Sis at Dangling Carrot
grows six acres of produce just a mile away!)
Raking in the seed meant a speedier germination.
|Week Two / Three|
|Week Four / Five|
The garden plot was fully bloomed by the time the rye finally came off Justin's field.
We were ready to plant some real acreage.
|900 lbs of seed -- a lot of buckwheat|
|The seeds, up-close|
It's unusual to see a planter out of the barn in late July.
As I said, Justin is a progressive farmer.
|Work faster! |
|Mason wants a shot at planting.|
This picture was taken about four weeks after planting. The field got whiter and more beautiful as the days went on. We had a few questions from our neighbors... buckwheat isn't a normal thing around here.
You can see one group of hives in the distance. I had 31 total to forage on the field.
During the buckwheat growth, I was busy with summer honey. After a few bee yards had been pulled and extracted, this spot (only a mile from home) was convenient for cleaning out wet supers. I've learned the hard way-- when wet sticky supers are left in piles around the honey house, you attract a lot of craziness.
Here's a video shot during one of these clean-outs:
In September I got around to pulling the buckwheat honey. I was a little disappointed with the quantity, but not all with the quality:
Rich, thick and black as ink. The above picture is interesting. Even though the honey is black, newly drawn wax is still bright yellow.
It has a very robust, smokey taste. It's darker than even the tulip poplar honey. I'm proud of it, I have to say. Jayne thinks it has a sweeter aftertaste than most buckwheat honeys because the goldenrod came into bloom while the supers were still on. The bees spent the mornings on the buckwheat and the afternoons making regular fall honey, mixing the two. They also brought in an abundance of beautiful orange goldenrod pollen. Twelve of the hives had pollen traps... we were double-dipping.
Come on out to a market and try it!
I'll still be at the North Market through November and Jayne starts the Worthington Winter Market
this week. This year we're at Worthington every weekend.