I did not harvest my first hive the first year. (I don't remember why. I think it was because there wasn't enough to mess with and I wanted to make sure they had enough stores going into winter.) I'm in the Dallas, TX area and our recent winters haven't been very bad at all. Sometimes it seemed like winter lasted one week. The next spring, I guess they swarmed because I found a swarm hanging from the tree in my backyard (about 20 yards from the hive). I collected the swarm into a second hive. That same year, at harvest time (my first harvest), I saw that the second hive (the swarm) hadn't really started packed away much honey. I didn't harvest from that hive. I only harvested from the first hive which was actually going on potentially two years since they were established. I only pulled frames that were at least 75% capped (about 8 out of 10) from a medium and a shallow super. The extraction went great. I strained it all through a 2-part strainer (made for this purpose). After straining, I got 3.25 gallons for my first harvest. I bought canning jars and filled the first one (a half-pint jar). I couldn't believe how dark the honey was. It was like molasses. If I held it up to the sunlight, you could barely see any light coming through and the honey had a dark green appearance in the jar in the sunlight. It also had a strange taste to it. The best that I can describe it is musty (maybe mossy). Not at all like the honey I'm used to (mostly commercial clover honey or, back when my dad kept bees when I was a kid, eucalyptus honey). Thinking that the honey may be extremely dark because there might be more particulate matter in it, I strained it again... this time through a fabric honey cloth. The results were the same. I didn't know what was going on, but I knew I needed to empty this 5 gallon bucket of honey into some jars. I ended up with a variety of sizes of jars (half-pint, pint and quart). What wouldn't fit in the jars, I put into a squeeze bottle to keep on the counter (for oatmeal, coffee, tea, biscuits, etc.) I had hoped that using the honey with foods would disguise its 'odd' taste. The honey tastes great at first. Nice and sweet... just like honey. But the after-taste is what's so off-putting. It just tastes musty/mossy. I've dried it in hot drinks, in oatmeal, as a glaze for roast duck, etc. I just can't get past the taste. I've given a few half-pint jars away with a 'warning'... letting them know that this doesn't taste like ordinary honey, but it's definitely local honey. I don't feel right trying to sell it. I had the idea to mix it with this year's harvest (hoping that this year's harvest is 'normal'), but don't want to risk 'contaminating' 'normal' honey with 'off-putting' honey and ruining this year's harvest. If this is just the way this honey is going to taste, I guess I'll deal with it -- probably won't be able to sell any of it, though. I guess I just want to make sure there's nothing wrong with it. I'm the only one in my household of 3 that will even consume honey, so it's gonna take me a while to go through it all. So, after all of that, I should probably mention that I live in a somewhat country-type area (people in the next neighborhood over have horses, I can hear coyotes at nights, cicadas are crazy in the summer, an armadillo lives under my shed, mama skunk and her babies march across my front porch, Mr. Opossum pays me a visit from time-to-time in the tree right off my front porch, ...oh and I'm a 10 minute walk to the lake). The lake... could that be where this musty/mossy taste is coming from?... I've read about 'old honey', but those stories were talking about 10-30 year-old honey. I know of a beekeeper who likes to pour 'old honey' over a beef brisket before smoking it. I don't know what 'old honey' means to him. I guess it's all relative. Sorry for the novel, but I really just wanna figure out what to do with 3 gallons of honey that, at this point, have cost me several hundreds of dollars. Thanks in advance.
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