Spring was good to us with its profusion of blackberry blossoms which yielded hives full of pale and delicious honey. We put our daughter and her boyfriend, JI, in bee suits for the first time and had them smoking and brushing bees, which they greatly enjoyed. (I’m glad that I was the only one who got stung on their first excursion to the bee yard! I even restrained my remarks to the bee that crawled up my boot. )
We only checked honey supers above excluders and were still able to pull 95 pounds of honey. There are full supers with frames that were 3/4 capped last weekend, so we’ll have more to process in the near future.
As the workshop is still in disarray, we extracted the honey in the kitchen with the four of us working very well together in the cramped space. JI is a natural at decapping frames and we all took turns cranking the handle on the extractor. I’d covered the island with a sheet and put towels down on the floor, so clean up was a breeze. With water and electricity at the shop now, we were able to pressure wash the equipment. I even had enough energy left to pressure-wash the wood ware that I plan to repaint sometime this week. (Or do I mean next week? What day is it? I love summer break!)
The main nectar source right now appears to be elderberry, and the bees are still visiting buckwheat early in the day. I’m very happy to see them on the lavender, but I don’t yet have enough lavender for it to make a difference. I just read that varroa mites don’t like the way lavender smells, so lavender pollen and nectar can help protect bees. (Source: Plants for honey bees) That makes me want to go out and clip more cuttings right now, but I need to wait a while as the plants are currently in full bloom.
I did cut some blooms a couple of days ago for my first attempt at making lavender infused honey. I know I need more, but I really want to leave as many flowers on the plant for bee-forage as possible. Some of the recipes I looked at require heating the honey, which I prefer not to do, so I am following a recipe from NectarApothecary.com that takes 4 – 6 weeks. I do not have dried blooms, so I know there’s a risk that fresh flowers will make the honey crystallize, but I’m not worried about that as I plan to add it to tea or simply eat it by the spoonful when I have a sore throat! I know I’m not supposed to disturb the honey, but I can’t resist taking the lid off to inhale the incredible aroma now and then. It’s only a matter of time before I dunk a teaspoon in, so there may not be much left in the jar by the end of the six weeks….
Today we get to find a home (other than the living room) for the Honey Keg and pour our liquid gold into it for storage and eventual easy bottling. I couldn’t find my mason jars and lids the other day, so it may be time to just have a case of pre-sterilized containers shipped in. Our previous process of ladling honey into jars in the kitchen sink is going to take too long, but I’m not going to complain about how much honey we have. After all, our progress means we’re one step closer to being able to retire from our day jobs!
It’s another beautiful day on the farm, and we finally have a chance of rain in the forecast. Cucumbers, grapes, blackberries, and tomatoes are all getting closer to being edible. We got to eat four incredible blueberries from one of the new bushes yesterday. The workshop passed the building inspection yesterday. Best of all — we no longer have to worry about what is going on with our old house and can now focus on framing the honey shop in the workshop. It just simply doesn’t get any better than this!