Veggy Malta met up with Mario Falzon of The Honey Pot, at Rabat, to see the production of Maltese honey.
Mario’s apiaries are in a field near Verdala Castle. The fields they are in are pesticide free, and so are the surrounding fields and one would hope that Verdala Castle is pesticide free as well. To start of we wore the protective clothing and set off to the boxes.
Mario was going to feed the bees some pollen pattie. Yes you read well, feed the bees. This is done to help the bees pass through the winter when there are few flowering plants in bloom and therefore not enough pollen. The pollen substitute strengthens the entire brood.
Interesting to note is that it is the bees that determine the amount and type of eggs the queen lays. This depends on the size of the comb. drones are required during the months of March through to May for mating purposes. Not much of a queen I guess!
I always knew that bee keepers used smoke, what I didn’t know was how easy it was to make. Mario picked up some fallen pine leaves and lit them and placed them in the bee smoker. Squeezing air in and the smoke comes out. Smoke has the effect of masking the pheromones released by bees to communicate. If the bees think that the hive is under attack they would normally communicate and alert other bees. The smoke actually masks this pheromone and confuses the bee thus allowing the bee keeper to work and keeps the bees calm.
There are three harvests. In spring, summer and autumn. The spring honey is multi-flora, benefiting from the large variety of flowering plants. The summer honey is based on thyme. Whilst the autumn harvest is based on eucalyptus, carob and other similar trees is used by bees to produce propolis. If you are taking honey to counter the allergies, then you need to take the honey according to the season.
How to buy from The honey pot
I asked Mario how people can buy his honey. 400g of his (genuine Maltese) honey is sold at €8. But you need to check out his facebook page to know when he has honey as the stock is always limited, and more so when the yield is low. He mentioned how the lack of rain is having an effect on honey. Last year’s draught meant that he did not have a particular harvest. It is one large cycle!
We need bees and we need to conserve them. Bees are the main pollinators and important to nature and agricultural. Interestingly Friends of the Earth Malta has recently launched a campaign to help save bees called The Bee Cause. Check it out to see how you can help.