Honey Honey Honey!


Do you know the feeling of anticipation for something you’ve waited a very long time for? Something you’ve dreamed about and knew would come your way, but sometimes the wait was excruciating? You may have had moments, during the wait, when you doubted that the dream would ever actually be fulfilled.

Oh, but when the dream becomes the reality it is so wonderful, like the first crisp day of Fall after a long stretch of unseasonably hot weather. That’s how I’ve felt in recent weeks as we harvested honey from hives we’ve been tending for four years.

While all the credit should go to the bees, who are amazing insects, I will give oodles of credit to my husband and step-daughter. They have both worked many hours with the bees to keep strong queens in the hives, and kept all hives healthy and well supplied with pollen and nectar.

We recently had our first harvest in four years, and it paid off, accumulating 160 pounds of honey from two hives. The photos below show the stages of the process.

First must remove all the bees from the frames, then load them onto the truck for transport to the garage.

A handy tool to remove the caps so the honey can be extracted

Four frames at a time can fit in the extractor

Once the extractor is turned on it spins the honey out of the frames in about 10 minutes

Open the tap and remove honey from the extractor

The honey is strained to remove excess comb

The final step is bottling the honey

We will be selling some of the honey and have packaged it to sell in half pound, pound, 2 pound and 2.6 pound quantities. All profits (yeah, right!) will be reinvested into sustaining the bees for the future of all mankind. Contact me if you’re interested in purchasing some raw, pure, unfiltered Vermont honey.

1/2 pound for $5.00
1 pound for $10.00
2 pounds for $18.00
2.6 pounds for $24.00

Autumn Love

This has been a beautiful and productive week for Mother Nature. Some of you may be saying, “beautiful?” It’s been raining most of the week.

Yes, yes it has. At the same time the leaves have FINALLY, FINALLY begun turning colors just as they are supposed to in New England in the Fall.

For the entire month of September I worried that it wasn’t going to happen. After all, the leaves usually begin to change color earlier – much earlier – than they have this year. Often, by fair time in mid to late August trees begin to transform into their party wear of golds, reds, and oranges. But this year has been so uncharacteristically warm that it has stayed green green green.

However, last week we got a couple of frosts and voila! Foliage!

through the trees 3 - Copy
burke farm view - Copy
equine morning - Copy
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good morning fall - Copy
neighbors at dusk - Copy
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soft fall morning - Copy

Tomato~Potato

These were growing in my garden recently.
potato fruit

Did you think they were Cherry Tomatoes?

Well, guess again. Those are actually growing on my potato plant.

Yes, they are potato fruit, which I had never before seen on a potato plant, and until I looked it up, had never heard of before.

The reason that they look like tomatoes is because potatoes and tomatoes are of the same family. HONEST.

I know. . .I was surprised too!

When I learned this my first thought was, well, of course, potato/tomato – they are spelled similarly.
My second thought was, that is just weird, because look at the two plants – they have nothing in common whatsoever. Until now.

B. Rosie Lerner at Purdue Extension explains that potatoes and tomatoes are both part of the nightshade family – latin name Solanaceae.

Nightshades include white (but not sweet) potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers, both chilies and the sweeter bell peppers. The list of edible nightshade plants also includes any spices made from peppers, like paprika, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper (although black pepper is a different plant). There are some interesting thoughts about the value or dangers of plants in this family and this site provides some interesting information.

Honestly, it is confounding, isn’t it? How can white potatoes and sweet potatoes not be related? And cayenne pepper and black pepper not related either? It’s mind boggling really.

Back to B. Rosie Lerner, whose article about potato fruit was written in 2003. In it she says that most people in Indiana have never seen these potato fruits before (like me) because they are a rare occurrence. But, “Cool temperatures during long days tend to promote fruiting in potatoes, which explains the increase in potato fruit this year.”

That certainly describes our summer, particularly the earlier part of it when the potato plants were developing rapidly.

The seeds from these potato fruits can be harvested and new potato plants started from them, but potato plants grown from seeds this way take a much longer time to develop. Lerner suggests that gardeners may find it interesting to try, as a novelty, but it is much easier to grow potatoes from tubers than from seeds. Another interesting point was made that the fruit of the potato can be very toxic to humans, especially children, because they are high in solanine. Therefore, the potato fruit should NEVER BE EATEN!

So stick to these:

tomatoes

and enjoy the non-toxic fruits of your labor, and your learning!

Happy Gardening!

The Bee Chronicles

You might recall that we captured a small swarm of bees a few weeks ago. At that time we had not idea where they might have come from, but since then we checked the hives again and noticed that one seems to be missing its queen.

*long pause*

*heavy sigh*

We are sure the queen is absent from the hive because there is no sign of eggs or brood. Yet, there were some queen cups constructed. Queen cups are built for the purpose of raising a new queen. Now, bees would not be raising a new queen unless there was some concern in the hive that the current queen was absent or inadequate in some way.

queen cup ~thanks to wikipedia

Plan B – get a new queen.

Once again, Dave contacted Betterbee right away and ordered up a new queen which is shipped FedEx overnight and arrived Thursday afternoon. Without delay, we took her with her entourage to the hive and gently laid the cage in place. We have introduced a new queen before, so you can read about the process in this post.

This queen cage was a bit different from the last one, but you can see her here marked in blue:

The Blue Queen

The Blue Queen

The black tube on the end is filled with a sugary treat that the bees will eat through to release the queen.

Dave inspected frames closely to make sure there wasn’t a laying queen in the hive:

Close Inspection

Close Inspection

Then the queen cage was placed on the frames to see how the bees would respond to the new queen:

All Hail the New Queen

All Hail the New Queen

They seemed interested, but not aggressive so the cage is in place, everything shut back up tightly, and we will keep our fingers crossed!

bees

The Yearling

She has been visiting our neighborhood most of the spring and early summer. Most often, we spot her in the early morning or early evening.

A safer distance

Recently I spotted her. . .

she is IN the garden - Copy

INSIDE MY GARDEN!

Then I noticed that the tops of most of my bean plants were gone!

So I insisted that we put a gate back where the garden entrance is, because the gate that WAS there was taken to be used as a bee fence, because evidently the bees are more important than the garden.

Never mind, I won’t go there.

But I will say, that it seems to me bees and gardens are equal, in the big scheme of things.

A gate of sorts went up and here’s what happened the next day:

Was it here?

Was it here?

Or maybe over here?

Or maybe over here?

Indeed, she walked the entire perimeter of the garden looking for the way in. Smart girl. I was waiting for her to have the nerve to jump the fence, but she didn’t. Good thing for her.