Monday, November 30, 2009

Craft Fair

I was pretty excited to send out this email today. This is my second craft fair but I am even more nervous this year than last. It was a blast last year - I shared a booth with my friend Liz Tuff who had sewn gifts for sale. This year I will be sharing with Felix Mimo who is a potter.

I will be selling local honey, hand cream, beeswax bars, and, for the first time, beeswax lip balm at the Millbury Chain of Lights this Sunday from 10-4pm. The Millbury Parents Club is hosting a craft fair at the Millbury High School and I will have a booth in the hallway near the entrance - look for Blue Hive Honey on your map.

If you would like to preorder honey or other products and pick up at the Craft Fair I will include honey sticks with each order. If you cannot make the craft fair, I will make other arrangements for delivery. Also, if you are interested in smaller sizes of hand cream, please contact me.

None of my products have added fragrance or colors - just the natural warm smell of honey and beeswax.

Prices for 2009:

1 lb Papa bear of honey - $7 ea or 2 for $12
4 oz beeswax handcream - $5
1 oz bar of pure beeswax - $2
lip balm - tube or pot - $2
honey sticks - 5/$1

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Please...

On Thanksgiving I whipped up a batch of sugar water for the bees thinking that they might take a bit more before wrapping up for the season. I love it when my bees remind me that books will only take me so far and that experience is really the best teacher. There are many beekeeping books that will tell you that bees stop taking honey and sugar water around Halloween and my girls haven't read a single one of them.

Not only has each and every hive sucked dry the jars of sugar water set out for them they also inhailed the warm honey I put out. It was pretty crystalized here in the house and I expexted it would do the same in the hive so I warmed it on the stove until it was smooth and liquid again.

The bees were great - only Pink's girls were flying but the other hives were still quite active. None of my hives have clustered yet.

Bees don't hibernate, migrate or sleep for the winter, they cluster. Essentially bees cuddle to stay warm and keep the queen happy. She is kept fed and warm in the center of a big hug all winter. Once they cluster up, they stop taking sugar water, honey or even spend much time outside the hive.

It is great that the girls are taking on as much honey as possible. When it does get cold, and it will, they will be in a better position to use their stored food and start next year off with lots of bees.

The smell from just cracking the top covers off was amazing. I am slowly weaning myself off smoke as it really disturbs the communication of the bees. I am also learning more about how the hive smells at different times.

Happy Thanksgiving to Pink, Sum, and Joy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Honey Harvest

I am just as busy these days and the girls are. I am preparing for the craft show for the Chain of Lights here in Millbury on December 6. I will have a table to sell honey, beeswax, hand cream and for the first time this year, lip balm.

In a total panic yesterday I realized I had 20 (now 19) days to get ready. I got inspired and bottled all the remaining honey safe for the smidgen on the bottom of the bucket. Here's the final number for the year:

36.5 lbs

Sigh - it is about twice what a I though we'd get but way less than I hoped. The honey we have this year is so much more complex than last year's honey. This year is darker, richer, and very intensely floral.

In addition to bottling, I melted wax in to bars and small batches to make hand cream. The whole house had a faint smell of honey and wax all evening. The bars were made in the lovely molds that my dear husband gave me for Christmas last year. The bars came out smooth and shiny with a strong odor of bees, honey and the faint whiff of warmer days past.

My list is still long. I have to make hand cream, label all the honey bottles, get bags, tissue paper, and find some way to label the lip balm. Here's the hand cream recipe I use as my base. And as many of you would expect, I made some changes!

This weekend I will tackle learning to actually make lip balm.

Come visit me at my table at the fair and say hello!

Monday, November 9, 2009


Saturday our whole family went to the Worcester County Beekeeper Association's Thanksgiving Banquet. This was downright horrible year for most of us beekeepers and for most everyone in agriculture. Nevertheless, we were challenged to find something to be thankful for. Here's my list...
  1. My bees! - They are so beautiful and connect to my soul in ways that few others have. I am going into the winter in such a better place than last year. Even though I had a small honey and wax harvest, the bees are plentiful.
  2. Being a beekeeper - I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn more and in some way help these beautiful girls.
  3. Other beekeepers - I am ever so lucky to have the mentoring and fellowship of the wonderful beekeepers in this area. I have learned so much and feel supported in this adventure.
  4. My kids - When faced with the challenge of finding something to be grateful for, both my kiddos immediately came up with a long list! They were grateful for the garden full of produce. They saw the glass as half full - what a beautiful way to look at the year.
  5. My sweetheart - It was for him that I started keeping bees, but he's really risen to the challenge and adventure of it all. He created a screened bottom board out of his stash of wood in the garage to bring something to the Thanksgiving raffle. He does the same for me - building what I need for the bees.

So what are you thankful for...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mouse Guards

I love reading all my friend's blogs about Halloween and potty training. I am happy to have a diverse group of friends because that is so not my life anymore. While many others were preparing for parties and buying value sized boxes of diapers, I was putting on mouse guards.

My daughter, nearly 6, checked out the hives this weekend for the first time. Unfortunately, she's still too small to see over the top of the boxes very easily as they are set up now, but she was so calm and moved so gracefully. I can see her keeping her own hive in a couple of years.

Naturally she has a fondness for Pink's hive and here's a picture of Pink's girls emerging from their inner cover opening. This is inside a box where I put honey for them to eat now. I am hoping that all three hives take some honey from me (that I robbed from them this summer when they were honey bound!) and put it up for the winter.

I also put mouse guards on two of the hives. These are metal gates that fit across the front of the hive that, as you guessed, keep out mice. Mice LOVE to overwinter in a hive where it is nice a warm and they can make a nest with the wooden frames and wax.

I have another guard on the way from one of my favorite bee equipment companies, Brushy Mountain.

So while my kids remain potty trained and we had no behavior problems at our big harvest dinner, I was so happy for our milestone: how joyous my daughter was to see the bees close up.