Melissa Local Honey
Kos is quite well known for its large production of thyme honey and on the road to Kefalos we are lucky enough to have a quite unique 'Honey Factory'.
Set up by Dionisia Anthouli, along with her husband Antonis, Melissa produces and sells local thyme honey, the process of which we were able to photograph so you can see step by step how the honey gets from the beehive to your yoghourt!
First of all we have lots of bee hives with bees buzzing around and the honey combs waiting for the honey to be extracted.
The honey combs, that the bees make in the wooden frames which are in the hives, are first placed in a machine which runs 2 blades down the sides of the combs which opens the cells and releases the honey.
From this moment there is wonderfully sticky honey oozing everywhere. A tank underneath catches the honey as it runs from the combs before they are spun.
The other by-product of cutting the combs is of course bees wax. This falls into something like a mincing machine which then extrudes the wax into long compressed pellets to be used later for making candles.
What cells haven't been opened by the blades are opened by hand with a large scraper so that the maximum honey is extracted.
The combs are then put into a centrifugal spinner; running for 2 minutes clockwise and then 2 minutes anti-clockwise. The combs are then put back in the hives for the bees to carrying on making honey in the exsisting cells. Some are damaged and so the wax goes into the melting pot.
From the spinner the honey passes through 3 small reservoirs with strainers which remove the large particles of beeswax and from there it passes into tanks.
The honey is left to settle in the tanks for approximately 2 weeks in which time the wax settles on the top leaving clear, pure honey.
It is then analysed and depending upon what percentage of thyme, blossom, pine or whatever nectar or pollen the bees have been feeding on, it is packed and labelled accordingly. The vast majority of honey on Kos and the neighbouring islands is thyme honey as that is the largest food source for bees here. The hives are moved around from Kos to Kalymnos, Nissyros and Tilos so that the bees have a continual natural food source according to the month of the year.
In Samos for example, it is mostly pine honey which has a completely different taste.
The honey is packed into different sizes of tins and jars, including comb honey which is one of the best things you can eat if you have a bad cold. Chew the wax along with the honey and you get all the goodness and nutrients that are in there. Historically, honey has been used extensively over the centuries for its medicinal value. The antiseptic and antibacterial properties were recognised by the ancient Greeks and it is a foodstuff that never goes off.
The honey is mostly produced from March through to August when the bees go into a quieter mode and wait for the plants to blossom again.
Dionisia makes beautiful candles from the waste product i.e. the wax. She also makes a very nourishing skin cream from olive oil and bees wax.
Call in as you are passing, or join one of the groups that visit there, and sample one of Greeece's tastiest products.
The new traditional cafe is now open and is serving coffees, drinks and honey based sweets. Worth stopping for on your way home!
The best testimony of all has to be the amount of honey comb that was being eaten during production - and they all look extremely well on it!!
......... and onwards