Friday, September 25, 2009

Other sweet fall treats

My daughter and I picked apples at a local orchard earlier this month. The apples, Paula Reds, were rapidly starting to fade. I had high hopes of their juiciness with the excessive rain we've had all year - alas my hopes were dashed. These apples were very tasty but not extra juicy.

I dried a handful of apples, made a bit of applesauce, but decided to make apple pie filling with the majority of them. This was my first time making apple pie filling to can and it worked pretty well. Next time I need to remember to pick the BIG apples so there is less peeling!
There are still a few weeks to go before my very favorite cooking apple is ripe: Spencer. Towns in this area all had apple cultivars names for them. Few still exist and the Spencer is a beauty. The apples are large, red globes with a perfect balance of crispness, sweetness and tongue-tingling tartness. They make apple pies good enough to write home about.
Spencer apples are ripe in about 3 weeks. Yum

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Honey Clean-up

I thought I'd enlist some help with the post-extraction clean up. Quite a few friends showed up. It took about 20 minutes and there was honey everywhere.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stealin' Honey

I am a honey thief. I sneak, in the dim of a cloudy day, and make off with honey. A teaspoon of honey is the life's work of merely a dozen bees.

I checked on Pink and Sun's hives a few days ago just to see if they liked the built out people honey frames. They didn't. Neither colony had a single solitary capped cell.

On the other hand, neither had much room for brood (the babies) in the top box either. Why is this worrisome, you wonder. We are coming to THE moment when the queen will begin laying the eggs that will hatch into the bees who will overwinter with her. Since bees cuddle to keep warm, more bees makes for a warmer queen.

Soo, I stole frames laden with dark honey. The box was so heavy I had to ask my neighbor to carry it. I will spin out the honey and put it in the the big plastic pretzel jars a lovely friend gave me last year. In about three weeks I will mix that honey with medication and feed it back to the bees.

People honey production is nearing the close. I will return these frames in the next couple of days and remove the honey supers for the year.

On a funny note, I am trying really hard to get over my need to be entirely separate from my bees with a full suit of armour. A wise, sweet beekeeper has been gently scolding me in the most delightfully and somewhat flirty way that I have to get over my gloves. (And he's right - I'll have a better feel for what I am doing and there won't be stray smells to alarm the bees.) Soo, I took off my veil, gloves and coat earlier than I usually do. Sure enough, I hear a buzz by my head and feel a visitor in my hair.

Did I mention I hate bees in my hair?

I shake my hair and the buzz stops so I go on my merry way cleaning up. I head in to use the facilities and while I am ... well sitting down... what do I hear... buzz buzz. I rapidly shake my hair (which may not be the wisest of moves) and onto the floor pops a wasp!

Yes, a wasp. Luckily it was a solitary wasp so she was unlikely to sting me, but she COULD. She was quite gorgeous in black and copper and of rather small stature.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Second Place

Monday, September 7, 2009


The judges knocked off two points, yep two measly little points, for a few crystals in the honey. And we came in second in the Amber honey category - two categories of color from last year's honey! So we got a pretty red ribbon!

When we take off the honey suppers - the people honey boxes - we spin out the honey and then put them away "wet." This can stimulate the bees to put honey back in the in the spring when we replace them on the hives. Alas, this also means that the tiny bits of honey in the frames crystallizes over the winter. Either we need to use completely fresh frames for the fair or heat the honey enough to decrystallize it. Personally I thinking heating the honey changes the flavor.

I am going to take the honey to the State honey show this year. It is going to be held at a big Worcester County Beekeeper's Association meeting in October.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beauty Contest

The Spencer Fair, like all fairs, judge honey on looks. Yes, this is totally a beauty contest. The judges use a 100 point scale and 90 of the points are pretty much evaluating looks.

Last year, my honey was a tall leggy platinum blond. This year, as you can see, my honey is totally brunette. This color of honey is far more common and will have very stiff competition. I am getting rid of the bubbles right now and will take a toy spoon and carefully remove any pesky minuscule bubbles that form along the top. When I get out to the fair, I will polish the bottles so that even the most skilled CSI couldn't tell they were mine removing all finger prints, dust and any trace of my existence. Finally, I will polish the inside of the cap.

Yes, you read that right - the INSIDE of the cap. That is a whopping 10 points - inner cap cleanliness.

So think of me tomorrow afternoon as I carefully drive my honey out to Spencer and hand off my pair of perfectly cleaned jars of honey.

Keep your fingers crossed.