Honey, Geese and Garlic

3 jars of honeyI spent some time the past few days extracting honey and have quite a good amount all bottled up and ready for gift giving.  I took a comparison photo with two jars of honey that came from the same hive, but at different times of the year.  People often wonder why the color of honey is so different and what it means.  The color of honey is in direct relation to the type of flowers the bees are foraging or feeding on at that time of the year.  Here we have thousands of Clover blooming during the Spring season and later in the year Goldenrod blooms.  The thickness and the flavor of the honey is also affected.  Most beekeepers will define their honey as “wildflower” since we can not be 100% sure what our bees are feasting on.  Those that have hives in orchards or huge fields of a certain crop can be more certain what type of honey they harvest since the bees will only fly a certain distance from their home hive.

honey colorsAlso this week the pair of geese that have been fighting to keep our lake as their nesting grounds are ready to settle in.  I really don’t think it is a smart move on their part since Sammy the cat can be very territorial.  All I can hope is that they decide to nest over by the cove where Sammy rarely visits.

pair of geeseThe garlic has decided it is time to give forth some good growth and being that Spring arrives in a few days, I couldn’t agree more!  This year I have close to 2000 heads of garlic planted – 7 different hardneck varieties.  I have had better luck with the hardneck in this clay soil than the softneck garlics.  I do hope to find a good softneck variety that will thrive here for braiding.  Early spring I will have garlic scapes from all these hardnecks and plan to can up most of them to enjoy all year long.  It is a blustery cloudy day today and I am hopeful the weather will give way to Spring and let the winter chills pass on for the year.

 Here’s to hoping …. Happy Spring!!

early spring garlic

Random pictures this week @DebBeesHive

honey in comb

Beautiful photo of honey in the comb soon to be extracted … so delicious!

barred owl

Barred owl watching the chickens near the barn!

wood ducks

Wood ducks strutting their stuff in the lake!

I have been busy as of late “pinning” tons of information and photos, ideas, gardening tips, crafts …. lots of GREAT stuff!

Why?  You may wonder …

I have been asked to join (and I have) a Pinfluencer Group by Pinterest regarding my interest in Gardening.  We are a group of about 200 Pinners who share information and feedback with Pinterest.  Please make sure to follow my boards and share your Pins with me!  It is VERY Fun and quite addictive … and the ideas I have found … Wonderful!

http://www.pinterest.com/DebBeesHive

Oh Sweet Spring

I know you are there Dear Sweet Spring ..

and soon you will send your blooms into the world bursting with beauty and color!

spring crocus

IMG_9228

This winter has been terribly severe in the Southern part of Illinois as it has been in most parts of the country.  Moving from the Northern part of the state and experiencing extreme cold winters was always the norm, so the cold temperatures down here didn’t affect me much.  Until yesterday ……  I noticed very little activity on the warmer days from two of the bee hives, so I could wait no longer and had to check on their status.  Sad news = they are dead.  There is plenty of honey in each of the hives so I am guessing it was the damp COLD weather that took its toll on them.  This is my first loss as a beekeeper, since I am relatively new, going into my third year with hives and what an awful feeling opening the hives to find such stillness.

On a brighter note, I have started seeds under the grow lights and have little plants already making their appearance.  Usually I have tray after tray under the lights, but this year I am holding off.  We decided to take a year off from vending at the Farmers’ market and I am hoping to start more in the hoop house without the use of the lights and electricity.

grow lights

The daffodils are pushing through the ground and although today is quite warm in the upper 60s, tomorrow may be a surprise.  The weather report says rain and snow (really? again).  That snow just doesn’t want to take its leave for the season yet!

daffodil sprouts

It is still very warm, in fact, HOT in the hoop house today.  Earlier it was 50 degrees, but is well over 100 now in the afternoon sun.  The sprouting seeds need this warmth and I will keep the back of the hoop house closed up since cold is suppose to appear once again.  Next week I bet I will be unzipping the back to let some fresh air in.  I was able to harvest some baby kale that had over-wintered and had it the last two days in my salad.  Soon I will also have arugula, spinach, mizuna and leaf lettuces to munch on.  I have started several tomato seeds under the grow lights and will move them to the hoop house for extra early growth, but will not be transplanting into the hoop house.  Last year we attempted to grow tomatoes in the hoop house and they do grow fine….but, I feel they do better outside in the natural weather.  They did get very tall and it seemed like less fruit was harvested.  So tomatoes outside this year!

seeds started hoophouseOff to a sad start with the bees this Spring ::: lessons learned and sadness felt.  Hoping that the drought of the last 2 years stays away and we actually have a nice garden growing season this year!