Tag Archives: honey

Honeysuckle Buzz – a Champagne Cocktail from the Garden

29 Jul

So one of my besties’ bridal showers was this weekend:

IMG_6367Observe – I clean up well, and enjoy wearing dresses (not just my bee suit).  Also, my dress is Rhode Island themed.  Not really.  I have always loved nautical things.

Regardless – I was in charge of games and favors (the former, I was not so excited about – the latter gave me an excuse to get crafty)…and then I put myself in charge of creating a signature cocktail for the event.  I walked out into my garden for inspiration and decided to use the last of the honeysuckle blossoms!

I remember as a little girl, walking in the woods with my mother and pulling the stamens out of honeysuckle blossoms and “drinking” the nectar, it is such a fond memory that although the vine is wildly invasive, it’s hard to think of removing it.

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The first step is creating honeysuckle simple syrup, which of course necessitates gathering up some blossoms -erring on the side of whiter rather than more yellow/orange.

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Add hot, but not boiling water to the jar (I sized up – so this is a pint jar), cover it, and let it sit for 12-24 hours.   You should *just* cover the blossoms.

IMG_0048After it’s set – strain it into a measuring cup – for every cup of water, I add 2/3 cup of honey.  You can go 1:1 and for more strongly “scented” syrups  – but I find that the honeysuckle gets lost easily with too much honey – unlike mint which can stand up to it a bit better.  Whisk the honey in until it’s dissolved – on a warm day, you shouldn’t need to add any heat to it – but if you do, you can feel free to transfer it to a pan – just DON’T LET IT BOIL!

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Et voila.  Once it’s done, transfer it to a storage container and move it to the fridge.  Cool & then shake before using!

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The Honeysuckle Buzz

Tablespoon of Honeysuckle Simple Syrup

4 ounces of Champagne

Stir with a bar spoon

Garnish with an edible flower or a honeysuckle blossom (I picked Borage for some color, but the honeysuckle adds a lovely scent)

 

Bees Loose in my Car! (and a bunch of other little updates)

28 May

The weather has been pretty cold and rainy this week again, but since JuJuBee and the newly named Cleopatra have observation windows, I was able to peek in anyway.

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That’s the full panorama of JuJu Bee’s workings.  On closer inspection, there’s definitely honey being stored away!

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Also, out on the front porch, there’s the definite posture of Nasanov fanning going on.

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Over on Scratch Farm, Cleopatra has a lot of work going on as well.   Her girls had 7 bars built out on Friday and so I popped another one in for good measure.

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Even though there was intermittent drizzle happening, the entrances were hopping. Now that they’re pretty set up, I’ve opened two of the front three holes and have popped off the Winter bottom board (well, I took the picture first and then took the bottom board off).

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On a neighboring farm, the farmer has asked me to keep a few hives for her as well.  Finding bees after package season is a bit of a pain, but I found a nuc in New Haven, CT and dashed over there to grab them on Friday afternoon.

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There’s a whole lot going on in there!  Because Betty was a close 2nd in the naming poll, I’ve decided that this is Queen Betty.  And, unbeknownst to me, I got a pic of her little butt as I was grabbing the shot of the frame.

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On the far left side about a third of the way down the frame is Betty Bee’s Beeeeeehind.  Doing her job!

On the hour and a half drive between New Haven and Cranston, I had the nervewracking experience of having bees loose in my car.  One got out pretty quickly and soon several more followed.  It was a bit of a nail biter to be sure, but they hung out on the ceiling, for the most part, and didn’t come see what I was doing….which was definitely for the best.

 

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This is their temporary hive in their new home – woods, and farm fields, oh my!

IMG_5767Coming out to explore a little…

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And this is a few hours’ progress on their new home!  I’m working on it in the wood shop in the studio where I teach.  I’ve got the followers and about 5 bars made (although with no comb guides) and the body.  Before I head home tonight, I’ll make a bunch more bars and figure out some kind of comb guide and then I’ll probably put together another set of followers so I can make a second hive body tomorrow (I have the bits for it).  I also need to figure out roofing and legs.  I have some legs-material at home, but not enough I don’t think.  I’m hoping to have at least one complete hive for Friday…and if I have two, then I have two and that will be exciting!

Spring is bursting into summer and I’ve got a lot going on!  I’m hoping to find another nuc or  two if anyone knows of one in New England!

A Week Post Nadir and Still No Downward Motion – Some Other Random Updates

19 Jul

So it’s been a week since I nadired the hive (a little longer, actually) and the girls are still firmly ensconced in their top box and a half.  I’m getting worried that they’re not going to have enough to over-winter on.  I really want to take the half box off – what was the feeder is now a rank mess of dead ants, fermenting sugar – I can’t lift it off to dump it out because the comb in the half box is all built onto the bottom of it… so I keep trying to mop it out and add more water every time I go out there to thin down the fermenting sugar junk.  Unfortunately, it’s also splitting open on the side (which they’re taking as an opportunity to make an upper entrance) — but because of that, the feeder only holds a tiny bit of water and somehow also never seems to totally dry out.  I want to leave the top off and let it evaporate, but I think the ladies would dislike that course of action.

I did try to lift it off when I was just out there…but when I lift it up it’s just comb comb comb….I broke one lifitng it and felt badly about it and put it back down.

Upper left you can see the split/entrance they’re making.  Luckily it’s below the level of the feeder “floor” so they aren’t getting into where the water sort of is.  The other three shots are just a few angles on what you can see when I try to pry the feeder off.

The full version of my favorite part of that grouping – some gorgeous comb and a bunch of capped honey – yay!


This is the rain barrel from the tutorial sitting in place – the tube coming in from the left is overflow from the third floor barrel and the tube leaving just below it goes into the gutter for right now.  We got a big storm today (finally!) and the top barrel filled up and if I leaned way out the window I could see the overflow tube pumping it out into this barrel.  I don’t know what the status of this barrel is, won’t until next weekend – which is also the next time I can see the bees…but it seemed like it was working.

This is the water going into the top floor barrel.  When it was super pouring, the water was shooting out over the top of the barrel – but I think it was pretty full at that point anyway.  Previous barrels that I’ve made have had the pipe go straight down into the barrel – it’s a little more finnicky but you get ALL of the water.  Which, it seems, might not be necessary.

This is the last barrel currently planned – I need to get a good drill bit and put a bajillion holes in the top of it as well as some screen to filter out the junk.  I’m super excited about the hand-pump part – suddenly we can do dishes and fill watering cans outside.  I just need to figure out what to do with the waste water.  I’ll probably put a 5 gallon bucket under there and then just take the greywater and dump it in the flower garden.
Speaking of the garden, there are tiny bits of food happening:

Tomatillo flower, green Believe it Or Not tomato, and a baby pickling cuke!

Also, I’m a sucker for plants in need – I found these lemon-boy tomatoes all mashed up and bedragled (but fruiting already) on a clearance rack– took them home, planted them next to the huge mama tomatoes that I’ve had in for months, pruned ’em up and made sure they got plenty of water – it’s only been since Saturday and these girls are ripening right up!  A little TLC turned them right around!  I have hopes that once these early fruit come off, they’ll do a little growing and maybe give me another set.

Do I have a laying worker and no queen – Part 2 – Sometimes I panic about things.

2 Jul

After I wrote that huge entry about thinking maybe I had a laying worker and no queen, I sat down and did some math.  With the average lifespan of a worker bee about 3 weeks – if I had a laying worker and the queen had not taken – I’d have no bees left – it’s been 12 weeks.

Also, I forget sometimes that so much available literature about bees is about how a hive runs when you force the cell size (using foundation milled to a generic specification) – a Warre on home-made, natural-built comb means that the bees decide what happens each step of the way and so seeing a Warre hive that would, in Langstroth standards, be “drone-heavy” is not unusual – the bees have decided that they need a few guys around…who am I to tell them otherwise?

To further calm my panicky head, I picked up and read the delightfully quick and interesting book The Barefoot Beekeeper – I’d had it laying around for a while but I sort of forgot about it.  It’s lively and adorably British and full of really smart thinking about the connections between the ways bees are kept and the overall health of the population.  Also there are plans for a Kenyan or Horizontal Top Bar Hive in there for those interested in that style.

I took some deep breaths and then decided not to open the hive.  Not yet.  When it’s time to nadir it (soon, I hope) – I can get the queen cage out – but until they need more room…they stay as they are.

This is the hive interior from last week – some capped honey and a bulge in the bottom box that I continually hope is hiding some comb!

I’ve also been slowly working on the vegetable gardens and rain-collection system now that project get-married is over.  I rarely see my bees in my garden (my downstairs neighbor is an earlier riser than I am and assures me that she sees them out there frequently and very early, but I think they just go hang out at the home depot) so I’ve been building upper gardens right around the roof-top hive hoping to catch their interest.  I’ll have to give you all a virtual garden tour soon.

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