While bee-keeping remains a hobby for McGreevy, given the choice he would choose to work full-time producing Moylurg Honey on a commercial basis. As this is not possible due to other entrepreneurial commitments, he is currently interviewing for an experienced commercial bee-keeper.
Given the number of hives and the expertise required to manage them, this post is not for the faint-hearted, as the job spec reveals.
“The right person must be able to coordinate bee-keeping among the hives for optimum honey productivity and be capable of equipment repairs and maintenance, handling and breeding of bees, honey extraction/processing/bottling, managing inventory, organising and updating IT system and all bee-related business. They must be able to physically lift bee-boxes and to work independently in a structured manner maintaining colony health through the year, have excellent management skills and an ability to multitask and prioritise work. Attention to detail and problem-solving skills in bee-keeping are required as is attention to detail and having an interest in improving existing processes.”
In other words, bee-keeping for commercial purposes is a serious business that demands skilled operators to execute expert aviary husbandry, in return for which rich honey rewards can be enjoyed.
Honey has been valued as a natural sweetener long before sugar became widely available in the 16th century. Honey production flourished in ancient Greece and Sicily, for instance, while animals other than humans – bears, badgers, and more – have long raided honey bee hives, risking stings for the sweet reward. Honey is a truly remarkable substance, made even more extraordinary by the process with which it is made. This blend of sugar, trace enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and amino acids is quite unlike any other sweetener on the planet. And while honey is high in fructose, it has many health benefits when used in moderation (assuming you're healthy). Before I delve into those, here's a brief lesson on how honey is made.
How Honey Is Made (Fascinating!)
It takes about 60,000 bees, collectively traveling up to 55,000 miles and visiting more than 2 million flowers, to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey.
Once the nectar is gathered, the bee stores it in its extra stomach where it mixes with enzymes, and then passes it (via regurgitation) to another bee's mouth. This process is repeated until the nectar becomes partially digested and is then deposited into a honeycomb.
Once there, the honeybees fan the liquid nectar with their wings, helping the water to evaporate and create the thick substance you know as "honey." This honeycomb is then sealed with a liquid secretion from the bee's abdomen, which hardens into beeswax.