Welcome - Explore my Blog

I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

Need help with an Atlanta area swarm? Visit Found a Swarm? Call a Beekeeper. (678) 597-8443

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Monday, September 19, 2022

Best in Show at MABA Annual Honey Show

 Honey shows are a challenge for me because my essential tremor makes it difficult to get a honey jar perfectly ready for presentation. So I rarely enter honey in honey shows any more, except for black jar contests. But most honey contests have other aspects - wax, crafts, baked goods, photography, etc. 

This year for my home club (Metro Atlanta Beekeepers) a friend of mine and I were in charge of the food for the potluck and honey show on Sunday the 18th. It's a busy job and requires organization, getting the plates, silverware, drinks, etc and the main dish - usually barbecue or fried chicken - for the event. With all of that, I had decided not to enter anything this year.

But then Saturday rolled around and I had nothing to do so I decided to spend the day baking. I baked honey whole wheat bread twice because I didn't like the taste of the first recipe which was a steel cut oat honey bread. I switched to a rolled oatmeal bread which I liked better from Beth Hensperger. I also baked honey wheat germ cookies (a Dorie Greenspan recipe) that are delicious. And finally I baked a David Tanis recipe for an apple honey cake

The honey oatmeal whole wheat bread won a blue ribbon (and $100). The judge suggested that it needed a stronger honey taste. I had used a mild honey and will use a stronger tasting honey the next time.


The cookies, which were competing with a gorgeous honey tart with kiwi slices decorating it that had been cut into honeycomb shapes and bees made of thinly sliced grapes - an amazing creation, didn't have a chance at a first place ribbon but came in second ($50). I was pleased because I didn't expect them to win. They are delicious as any Dorie Greenspan recipe. I'll make them again and video it for my YouTube recipe collection.


The apple honey cake wasn't gorgeous. I didn't put the apples in the center of the cake because I didn't think there was room. Then in the middle of the night on Saturday, I woke up and thought I could make a bee skep from the apples I didn't use and put them in the center of the cake. So I sliced the apples like skeps and cooked the apples in a skillet to soften them like the ones baked in the cake. Then on Sunday morning I put them in the center of the cake, arranged like three little skeps and added some cloves to look like bees. I then glazed the new apples with a honey/sugar/lemon glaze. Not a work of art, but I crossed my fingers and hoped it would taste good to offset it's clumsy appearance as Paul Hollywood might say:


This cake won first place ($100) and then Best in Show ($250)! The judge wrote "OMG! Praise only praise! Exceptional" on the comment card. I was bowled over. I've entered honey contests pretty much annually since 2007 and have never won Best in Show. The judge left before I could speak to him - Brutz English - he has judged all over, including in Ireland. I texted him to say how much it meant to me to get best in show. He called me this morning to say that of all the many cakes he has judged over the years, this one was absolutely one of the very best.

You should try the recipe. It has candied ginger as well as fresh ginger and apples in it along with the honey and the flavors permeate the cake. I baked it in a 10 inch springform pan since the baking seemed to be uneven and to take longer in the recommended 9 inch pan (from the comments). Mine was done in exactly 45 minutes.

I hadn't even tasted it, so I ate a piece for breakfast and it is DELICIOUS! If you want to truly feature honey as an ingredient, you should try baking this.







Saturday, September 10, 2022

Telling the Queen's Bees

My friend, Mike, just sent me this link 

The world knows the Queen of England has died and now, in the old tradition, so do her bees.

Here is a photo of just a small part of the article - be sure to read the whole thing.

Screenshot from the DailyMail.uk

Friday, September 09, 2022

September Crossword Buzzle: Preparing for a Honey Show

 In the fall, many bee clubs and organizations hold honey and wax shows. This month I did a crossword on getting ready to enter a honey and wax show. Here it is, if you'd like to try:


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Using a Jig to build Frames

 Last year I moved to a house with a yard big enough for my bees and my dog. This year I got CHICKENS! 


Every afternoon toward the end of the day, I let the chickens out of their coop to free range for a few hours until their bedtime. They truly go to bed with the chickens at about 7 PM. 

But I'm so scared one will be snatched up by a hawk, so I stay outside with them as a foil to keep the hawk away. My neighborhood is territory for red-shouldered and red tailed hawks. I've heard both. 

To keep me busy, I have been building bee boxes, frames, and nuc boxes. All of these are in boxes that I ordered years ago (from Brushy Mountain when it was still in business) and have never put together. So I thought I'd show you how to use a jig to put together frames. You can build ten at once. I probably ordered the jig from Brushy Mountain as well, but other bee companies carry it. 

Mann Lake has them. So does Betterbee. They are not as common as they used to be. I think many people buy their frames pre-assembled. My jig is for medium frames.

Basically the jig holds the end bars in place and allows the beekeeper to glue and nail the top bars to the end bars. 







Then you flip the whole contraption over and glue and nail the bottom bars. Then if you put the assembly together right side up, the new completed frames just slide right out.






I am a hammer and nail woman, and I can do ten frames in about 20 minutes. If I were nail/brad gun kind of woman, I could do them in ten. It's very fast. I made 100 frames over two afternoons of mostly playing with the chickens and intermittently building frames.

Next afternoon with the chickens, I'm building nuc boxes. I have about six wooden ones unassembled in my shed. One order is so old an order that it actually came with nails, like they used to!


Thursday, August 25, 2022

Fake Honey


This article is circulating among beekeepers right now. Everyone needs to know how bad it is that fake honey is in the market. I tell everyone to buy local honey - better yet, buy from a beekeeper you know. This article focuses on on-purpose dilution of true honey. 

As beekeepers, we also are possibly bottling honey that isn't real unless we truly take precautions. If you never feed your bees, then most likely your honey is pure nectar-based honey (unless your bees find a candy factory as in this article!). The French bees in the article produced blue and green "honey."

To be absolutely sure that you are harvesting pure honey, there are a couple of things you can do:

1. When/if you feed your bees, put food coloring in the sugar syrup. Blue is a good choice. Then if you pull a frame to harvest and the honey is blue or bluish, you can know that the honey contains sugar syrup.

2. Put a mark on the boxes that were filled with honey before you feed the bees and you can be assured that if you harvest from the marked boxes, you'll have pure honey in the frames and not honey that has been contaminated with syrup.

3. Never feed your bees during the nectar flow.

This is not an issue for me in that most years I don't need to feed my bees and if I feed the bees, I harvest long before that happens.




Thursday, August 04, 2022

Bees Coping with the High Temperatures

I keep slatted racks on all of my hives, so I don't get bad bearding even in the hottest weather. A slatted rack is the size of a hive box and has slats that parallel the frames in a regular box. It's not a tall piece of equipment - about 2 1/2 inches tall. The slatted rack provides some space for bees to hang on the slats and ventilate the hive. 

This is what a slatted rack looks like: 

It goes on the hive below the bottom box and forms the top of the entrance above the bottom board.

But in the hottest weather, even with a slatted rack, the bees also are sent outside to help keep the hive cool both by taking their hot little bodies out of the cumulative body heat inside the hive and by working their wings.

This video was made when the temperature in Atlanta was in the 90s one recent afternoon. It's in slow motion so you can see their wings.

 

Monday, August 01, 2022

August Crossword: August Beekeeping Challenges

This month's crossword explores some of the challenges for bees and beekeepers in August.


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