We had something really weird happen this past week.
Some of us here at Concrete Jungle are beekeepers, and this is about the time of year we harvest our honey. Not many more flowers are going to bloom, and after taking the honey we can make the hive smaller, which makes it easier for the bees to keep it warm during winter.
One of our hives is known as a top-bar hive. It’s basically a big trough covered with wooden slats, each of which has a separate honeycomb hanging from it:
It’s a nice cheap way to get in to beekeeping, since you can make a trough out of anything, and harvesting honey consists of crushing the wax and straining the honey out, with no need for a honey-spinning centrifuge as with other hives.
After checking in on the hive recently, we noticed something very strange. Something white in the honeycomb. It didn’t have a shape to it, so it wasn’t bee larvae. It flowed like honey and wasn’t transparent, so it wasn’t plant nectar. And it tasted amazing…kind of a maple flavor to it. Very sweet. Best honey I’ve ever had.
This is of course very different from normal honey, which should probably at least look transparent, if not amber as well. I attempted to figure out what this honey was, but couldn’t turn up many clues. We were very excited about sending some honey off to get tested and figure out what made it so distinct. Very few plants make white honey, and most of them grow in Hawaii. Maybe it was acacia, or honey locust growing in a neighbor’s yard. Whatever it was, we wanted to plant a lot of it for next year, cause this was some seriously bumpin honey.
Then it dawned on us.
These bees, located in Tucker, Georgia, happen to be about a half-mile away from the world’s largest wholesale manufacturer of icings and glazes. Not only are there no exotic plants contributing to this honey, but it isn’t even honey! Somewhere over at Brill there’s an open window, or a big pallet stacked with frosting or a barrel full of expired glaze, and my intrepid little dumpster-diving bee agents have found it and greatly capitalized on it. For all that we were trying to evoke in naming our organization “Concrete Jungle,” I don’t think we ever had anything like this in mind…
By the looks of things, they’ll be just fine through the winter, but I’m not sure we can harvest from this hive next year. Somehow, honey + honey = honey, but honey + frosting honey doesn’t. The grand muddy mixture is pretty cloying, unless you happen to be a food scientist that works at Brill Laboratories, in which case, it would probably make a great addition to your glazing product portfolio.