Grown Here at Home: How beekeepers harvest honey

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BEDFORD CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Honey isn't just a one-size fits all thing. It will have it's own unique taste depending on where you live.

"What we produce is considered a wildflower honey. The land that's around us and the resources that are available here there's a number of different nectars that come into making our honey. You're not gonna get a pure one type of honey. It's gonna be a blend of everything that's around. Anything from poplar to clover, locust. Later on in the season asters and goldenrod," said Nathan Minnix, a beekeeper in Bedford County.

Although Nathan had a good year with honey, there were times when he had some worries of his own.

"In the beginning, myself and many other beekeepers were deeply concerned about the weather. It just wasn't conducive to a good honey crop. We had a lot of rain and then we had long periods of no rain and it caused a lot of interruptions in the nectar flow," he explained.

This year, Nathan harvested 32 colonies. Each produces about 30 to 40 gallons of honey.

"We take an uncapping knife and cut the capping off those cells. Once that's been done on both sides we drop the frames down into a radial extractor and we spin those frames. Centripetal force makes the honey fling out of the cells to the outside edges of the extractor and then it drains down into the bottom. At which point we can take strainers and flow the honey through the strainers and then we're ready to bottle," Nathan said.

The capping taken off the honey cells is actually melted and run through multiple layers of cheese clothe. The end result is beeswax.

Honey will help if you have allergies, a bad cough or irritated throat. It has multiple health benefits, but to get the most out of it, buying honey from a local source is the best option.

"The key point to remember is, if you're buying honey from within 50 miles of where you live [...] you'll get the benefits of the pollen that's within that honey," Nathan said.

Plus, it just tastes good.

"It's hard to beat it in a cup of coffee or on a biscuit," said Nathan.