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The dark and the light: eating different honeycombs as part of natural beekeeping

April 15, 2012 | Beekeeping, Food, Natural Beekeeping | 11 comments | Author:

Once you start natural beekeeping you’ll soon be introduced to eating brood honeycomb – comb that has had baby bees (brood) go through it, and now contains honey.

In many traditional cultures, this dark honeycomb is the most sought after – it is riddled with extra enzymes and traces of pollen from the brood rearing process, and tastes altogether different from virgin honeycomb – nutty, strong and complex…

Post-brood honeycomb, dark, nutty and laden with pollen
Dark honeycomb, stacked with pollen, on sourdough toast

We’re learning all about the different types of honeycomb currently, mostly through eating it, and I have to say that the post-brood honeycomb is a taste sensation! Such a treat on sourdough toast.

Interestingly, the post-brood honeycomb is not considered valuable as comb in most conventional western beekeeping, when compared to virgin honeycomb. But to us, it’s just a different taste, and part of the complexity and diversity of the yield coming from our Warré hives.

While I love the melt-in-your-mouth aspect of virgin wild honeycomb (ie with no pre-made foundation between the cells), I’m grateful we’ve got this dark and complex honeycomb to store away for winter to guard against family winter coughs and sneezes…

The warré honey that we pressed recently is likewise stored away, to be taken medicinally, and on toast. (Don’t you feel sometimes that breakfast is medicinal in itself? It is in our house!) This honey is chock-full of pollen and all the goodness of wild comb, so wont be used in cooking or tea, so as to retain all its goodness.

Virgin honeycomb!
Tim with a warré frame of honeycomb showing a crown of virgin honeycomb (light yellow) with post-brood honeycomb beneath (darker area)
The same comb, all cut up and ready to munch...
Virgin honeycomb and post-brood honeycomb side by side - both delicious in different ways, both part of the bounty of the hive!

You can read more about our Warré beekeeping adventures here. And if you’re within coo-ee of Sydney or Mudgee you can even do a natural beekeeping course and learn all about it…

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  • Vinny Grette

    Gorgeous! I DO love real food!

  • narf77

    I might have to desert Tasmania and head to Mudgee to learn how to keep bees. The apiarist up the road sends all of his bees in our direction and my enormous clematis is humming with them along with bumble bees and a few wild bees thrown in for good measure each and every morning. We may as well send our own bees out as feed someone elses…

  • corinthcorners

    Fascinating post with great photography! My girlfriend and I have been talking about beekeeping for years….this is great inspiration. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Little Sis

    Such amazing photos. Makes us all want bees!

  • Chef Felisha

    What a great post. My partner and I went to a bee keeping seminar this weekend and learned so much. I can’t wait to bee able to sample delicacies like this at some point in the future. Thanks so much. :)

  • Emily Heath

    Gorgeous photos. I never get tired of seeing oozing honey.

  • Rebecca

    Tim Malfroy told our course group to read this after spotting your posting this morning – such great info and photos! And having just done the course, I can understand what you’re talking about now! :) When we get bees, I’ll be coming back to your blogs for your awesome info updates! I can highly recommend Tim’s course with Milkwood – you’ll learn so much!

  • The Forager

    Harvested my first Warre comb over Easter with a lot of the same post-brood comb. Having trouble rendering the wax. Love for you to post on how you go.

  • Pingback: It’s the birthright of bees to build comb « Milkwood: permaculture farming and living()

  • Nathan Hill

    we have been trying to find out why the first honeycomb we harvest was so dark and now we know why. Thanks Kristen😃

    • Kirsten Bradley

      no worries. enjoy :)

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