The Beekeeping Shop

Beekeeping and Research Centre 

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The Beekeeping Shop

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The  Story of   Nepalese  Honey

The tradition of honey production in Nepal dates back a long time. Honey has been regarded as a treasure by 'honey hunters' since the early centuries. In the Hindu culture honey is regarded as one of the five 'Amrit', heavenly foods. Together with cowmilk, yoghurt, ghee and sweet syrup (molasses), honey is offered during worship. Honey also plays a role in the Hindu wedding ceremony in which 'Kasaar', a sweet made out of roasted rice and honey, is offered to the guests.

Story of Nepalese Honey
A Taste of Nature
The heavenly food
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The medicinal qualities of honey are commonly recognized in Nepal. Ayurvedic medicines are often taken together with honey, and in rural Nepal pure honey is being used as a disinfectant, a cough medicine and a digestive.

 

In Nepal bees build their nests in different ways. One of the most fascinating kind are the huge combs made by giant bees hanging from mountain cliffs. These combs can measure up to two metres and contain as much as fourty kilo of honey. In many parts of Nepal bees can be found in hollow tree-trunks in the forest. Villagers here keep bees in carved out logs, attached to the walls of the house.

 

n other parts of the country bees are kept in wallhives, a cavity inside the wall of the house, with a small opening for the bees towards the outside and a window indoors which the beekeepers opens to harvest honey.

Nowadays a growing number of Nepali beekeepers keep their colonies in frame hives. In these modern hives bees build their combs within a wooden frame, which can easily be taken out. This simplifies the work of the beekeeper and usually results in a increase of honey production..

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Busy bees
The production of honey has amazed people throughout history. However busy, a honeybee can only produce a teaspoon full of honey in its lifetime. In order to produce one pound of honey bees have to visit some one million flowers. The flying distance of bees producing this quantity is equivalent of rounding the earth three times. In fact, a bee performs an amazing feat of aerodynamics by carrying almost its own weight in nectar around.

Bees make honey from the nectar which they obtain from flowers, field crops and tree blossoms. Necrtar is a sweet liquid which plants produce in order to attract insects for pollinatiion - that is the transportation of pollen to other flowers so that they produce seeds. Bees suck the nectar up from the nectaries of the flowers and store it in their stomachs where it is mixed with enzymes.
 
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Having returned to the hive, the bees passes the 'honey' over to other worker bees. A special task force now deposits the fluid into the honeycomb cells. The honey making process is completed when the worker bees start fanning with their wings and the moisture content in the honey is reduced. Once a cell is filled with honey, the bees close it with a capping of bees wax. In this way honey is stored for other seasons, when no nectar is available.
Into the hands of beekeeper
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Once the bees have completed their job the beekeeper will take out the honeycombs. With traditional hives, the combs are cut from the hive and the honey is squeezed out of the combs by hand. With frame hives, the frames are taken out and the bees are gently removed.

The beekeepers removes the wax cappings with a khukuri, the traditional Nepali knife, or a special fork. When all the cells are open the beekeepers places the honeycomb in a honey extractor, which is usually operated by hand.

 

When spinned around, honey flows from the honeycombs The combs remain intact and are placed back into the hive where the bees polish each cell in preparation for a new load.

The honey is now strained and left to stand until all air bubbles and small particles of wax float on top. When the wax is removed the honey isready to be bottled and consumed.

About Flowers and Flabours
The flabour and aroma of honey is determined by the kind of flowers from which the bees collect nectar. When a bee takes nectar from orange blossom, the honey's aroma will be like that of oranges. Similarly, when a bee visits a field of different wildflowers, the honey will have a mixture of flabours.

In Nepal, a country with a rich flora, honey usually has mixed flavour. Unifloral honeys, in which one source prevails, are also available, like chiuri (Indian buttertree) honey, mustard honey and buck wheat honey. Some special Nepalese honey come from fruit trees like lychee, citrus and wild cherry. Another way to distinguish honey is to look at the time of harvest. Different seasons produce different kinds of flowers and therefore different kinds of honey. Spring honey looks and tastes different from honey produced in autumn. The first is thin and light coloured, while the latter is thick and dark.
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The Beekeeping Shop offeres a wide range of honeys. The floral sources and time of harvest are mentioned on the label, which offers buyers the opportunity to find out the different characteristics in colour, taste and texture.
Nepalese honey, quality honey
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Honey from The Beekeeping Shop is produced by small farmers in different parts of the country, using traditional technology. Quality wise, the honey easily competes with imported honeys since it meets high international standards. The honey has undergone strict quality control at the laboratory of the Beekeeping Shop, with the guidance of the Beekeeping Training & Extension Support Project (BETREPS) in Godawari.

If honey is stored at a cool and dark place it remains fresh for many years. After some time honey will crystallise and become solid. This is a perfectly natural process which happens to the best honeys. Crystallised honey will become fluid again when heated in water of around 40 degree Celsius (don't boil honey, since it will loose part of its nutritious value).

The healthy sweet
Honey is a pure and natural product that does not need any additives. It contains different sugars, mainly fructose and glucose as well as small amounts of vitamins and proteins. Honey provides instant energy for the body, since the sugars have already been 'broken down' by the bees.

Honey can be used as a substitute for sugars in almost any kind of drinks or food. Try honey on a slice of bread, in a hot punch or in (herbal) tea. 
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Extracted from leaflet offered by

The Beekeeping Shop
Manbhawan, Lalitpur, Patan
P.O. Box 12730 Kathmandu
Kathamandu, Nepal

Honey is an effective household-medicine. Used in hot milk honey helps to cure an upset stomach or sleeping problems. Honey works as a disinfectant when put on a bandage on (open) wounds.
Story of Nepalese Honey
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