Harvesting, honey extraction and packaging
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CTA. 2007. Harvesting, honey extraction and packaging. Rural Radio Resource Pack 07/2. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57192
Careful harvesting of honey using the right equipment, plus extraction, filtering and packaging of honey.
Harvesting, honey extraction and packaging Cue: As a food that is often eaten raw, the purity of honey is one of its most important characteristics. But honey is also a product that can easily be contaminated. Even storing honey in the wrong type of container can damage its flavour, and beekeepers must take care at every stage of harvesting and handling honey to ensure that contamination is avoided. For beekeepers who sell their own honey, having a clean product that buyers can trust is the cornerstone of their marketing strategy. And for those who sell to processors, if their honey is less than pure it will simply be rejected. Daniel Ball is the managing director of Forest Fruits, a company that buys honey from several thousand beekeepers in Zambia?s North-Western province. The beekeepers come from Mwinilunga, an area at the source of the Zambezi river. Forest Fruits not only buys honey from the beekeepers, but also provides training and some equipment. Daniel spoke to Chris Kakunta about the importance of hygiene in the production of top quality honey, much of which he exports to Europe and America. Chris asked him how beekeepers can protect the purity of their honey during the harvesting process. IN: ?The first thing farmers have to do is ? OUT: ?have confidence in your product.? DUR?N: 5?51? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Daniel Ball, of the Zambian company Forest Fruits, which buys top quality honey from small scale beekeepers for export to Europe and America. The interview comes from a radio resource pack produced by CTA. Transcript Ball The first thing farmers have to do is to make sure they are prepared. When they are harvesting their beehives, it doesn?t matter what kind of beehive they are using; they must start by having the right equipment. Even if it is very basic equipment that is OK, but you need to have the right equipment so you need to plan for it. Kakunta When you say basic equipment what are you referring to? Ball Well, when you are harvesting honey you need to have buckets, containers that you can put the honey into, and those containers must not be metal, because honey takes on the taste of the metal, and that affects the taste. Therefore for the people who buy it, it is not that you can?t eat it, but it will not taste as nice. So you need a plastic bucket or a wooden bucket, but you should not have a metal bucket. And then of course the bucket should be clean, and it should have a lid, a top, that can seal against the moisture. Because honey sucks in water from the air, and if it sucks in water from the air eventually it can ferment. So you need a top or a lid that will seal against moisture in the air. And then besides a bucket, you probably need a sharp knife that is also clean. And then, in order to maintain your quality, most beekeepers should probably have a veil to protect their face. Now in our company, in Forest Fruits, we deal with about 6000 beekeepers, and when we started as a company we didn?t have money to give veils to beekeepers and we saw that that affected the quality. Once we had a bit of money we bought materials, made veils for our beekeepers, and we noticed that that changed the quality immediately. When people?s eyes and nose and face is protected, then they are willing to stay with the bees longer. So you need some protective equipment. At the very minimum you need a veil to protect your face. If you can get some gloves, that is also good. If you have those things you will stay longer with your bees, and you?ll be able to work with the honey a bit more. Kakunta In short, you are trying to say that while working with the bees you must exercise a little bit of patience? Ball Very much. You can?t rush in and rush out. If you rush in, your quality will be affected. And if you are looking to find a good market beyond the village, then definitely you must take time to take care of your product, not just your product, but also your bees. Kakunta Apart from a metal container, what are some of the things that you consider as contaminating factors? Ball Well if you have a bucket and you have been using it for fertiliser, that will contaminate your honey. So fertiliser is one thing. If you have been carrying diesel or oil or petrol or any chemicals in that container, you should never use it for food, because it will definitely be contaminated. Kakunta Once you have harvested your honey, there comes now the issue of extracting. During this process do you foresee any contamination as well? Ball Yes, in extraction you also have to be careful. If you are extracting in the village then you must be careful. If it?s raining or it?s in the rainy season then you must extract quickly, otherwise the honey will suck up moisture from the air and that will cause it to ferment. Also, in the village if you are processing you must be careful that you don?t have too much smoke. Now when you are harvesting you use some smoke; you should use just a little bit of smoke. If you use too much that smoke can be tasted in the honey. And then when you are processing in the village, if you are processing under the, what we call the chota here in Zambia, which is the small thatched building, and if you have a fire in there, the smoke will be going into the honey. So you must be careful there that the smoke doesn?t go into the honey. Remember that honey should taste like the flowers that the bees take it from, and every beekeeper can tell you that, yes, this is good honey, because it actually tastes like the flowers, and it smells like the flowers. If the quality is affected by poor processing or poor extraction in the village, then definitely the taste and the smell is going to change. Kakunta Sometimes there is also the issue of filtering or straining the honey to remove any impurities. What type of materials do you recommend for beekeepers to use? Ball Well you can use simple things like mosquito gauze. If you are selling a finished product in the village, then definitely straining it is important. But if you are selling it to a larger processor, then straining it is not so important. It just depends how you are going to sell it. But if you are going to strain it then mosquito gauze is OK. Kakunta What type of conditions do you need to package your honey? Ball Well as I mentioned before, one of the most important things with honey is that you make sure that you package it in a container that you can seal. If it?s got plenty of holes in it, or it is allowing the moisture or the air in, that?s going to affect the quality. Remember, honey sucks up moisture from the air, and that is an enemy of honey. Kakunta How important is the issue of labelling? Ball Anyone who buys it will want to know when it was harvested. What we do with our farmers is, it is labelled with their name and the name of the village and the date that it was harvested, and that is enough. Once that label is on there we know what to do with it as a processor, as a packer. But a small beekeeper, if you have the date that it was harvested, your name and your village, then people are going to have confidence in your product. End of track.