Just Grazing

Yes, Honey, The Pot’s Half Full

Crimson Clover surronds beehives

Crimson Clover surrounds beehives

How does it feel to be embarrassed by your assumptions? A little sticky, truth be told.

Recently in a blog, we lamented the loss of our bees over the winter, and how this beekeeping thing was mostly a big fat flop. Then came the sticky part: when we subsequently pulled the hive supers (boxes filled with frames used by the bees to make honey) from the freezer, where we had put them to prevent wax moth infestation, we discovered some frames contained honey left behind by the bees.

Our plan had always been to leave a lot of honey in the hives during the winter because it’s the only food the bees have.

The more we looked, the more honey we saw. Some frames were nearly full of honey while others had a little or none at all.

The Scots-Irish part of our team was, well, Scots-Irish. That is to say–skeptical. To be sustainable one needs to maintain a healthy degree of skepticism because you never know what might go wrong. Really. So maybe this wasn’t truly honey. Maybe it just looked like honey.

The other half of our team stressed optimism. You know…the honey pot is half full, not half empty kind of stuff.

So we did what we were supposed to do. We unwrapped and cleaned the honey extractor, loaded 20 frames in it and turned it on. Voila! Out came honey. And more honey. Lots of honey. A very positive seven gallons of honey.

The taste test was conducted even before the last drop drained from the extractor. It was delicious. Our first wildflower honey crop. Now, seven gallons of honey doesn’t qualify for a bumper crop. But it’s a good start, and we plan to sell it. We had watched the bees feed on crimson clover that we had planted as well as sourwood trees in our little forest and other flowering plants.

Yes, there were some high fives. We talked about how good it felt to see the bees foraging on our crops, and how sad we felt when we lost all the bees. And we were pleased with ourselves for not giving up but instead starting all over again this season with four new hives–and adding a fifth when we captured a swarm.

Our thanks to family farm visitors Darcie Champagne and Jon Saulmon for not only bottling the honey but also designing and affixing the labels.DSC_0284

Our new bees seem to be doing a great job. We soon will determine whether they have made enough honey for us to pull out frames and extract from them. But right now we’re in the middle of a drought, daily temps are in the 90s and, other than a bumper crop of buckhorn plantain, there is little for the bees to forage on.

So, we might not get any more honey this year. Things will go wrong in any given situation if you give them a chance. You know, Murphy’s Law and all.







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How We Roll
Farm Star

Our honeybees forage on a variety of crops planted on the farm, as well as native species of trees, plants and weeds.

We have many visitors to the farm each year. No visit is complete without some goat petting. When it's blueberry-picking season, the goats love culled berries.

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