September 16, 2012
We harvested 20 quarts this year, or 50-60 pounds. It’s really amazing.
I’m curious to see how long this honey lasts us. This last year I’ve used a lot of honey making my Honey Whole Wheat Flax Seed Bread. And I’ve been diligent in slowly converting many of our favorite recipes to use =less= honey instead of any white sugar as well. And even while continuing that process, I’m thinking this harvest could last us longer than a year.
That makes us think twice about a second hive. We’ve talked about getting one before, but now I wonder if we even need it. I think it would be useful if we were using honey to barter for other things.
I looked at some raw honey in the store the other day and it was going for $.40 an ounce. That would make 50 lbs worth $320. Which means in our second year we have officially made back our investment cost. I think we could even have gotten more honey this summer If I had invested in another super, but I just wasn’t sure I wanted to do that with the rocky year we had. I am satisfied nonetheless.
I also harvested one pound of useable beeswax, from the little cappings (see what I do with it next time).
Processing the beeswax is a bit tricky. I had tried to process last years cappings a few months ago, with bad results. I was so frustrated with it, I set the whole waxy seized-up mess on a shelf in my laundry room and just left it there for the last couple months. I didn’t think about it except for the few times I wondered where my smallest pot was hiding–then I remembered about the wax!
Luckily I browsed across the perfect help a few weeks ago and was able to successfully process the wax from this year and completely salvage the big mess of wax I made earlier this summer. (The only advice I would add to her instructions is to skim off any foamy stuff that rises to the top of the melting wax as well.) In the end I was so, so happy with how little wax I felt had been “wasted” in the process.
I really enjoy making the beeswax products, so that’s one reason (among others) that I am considering a top-bar hive. Then I could harvest whole combs of honey and wax instead of just the cappings. (I could scrape all the drawn up beeswax off my plastic foundation–but that just seems like a hassle and not really a good idea.) One other reason harvesting whole combs from a top-bar hive might be better for us, is because we will be moving next year and will no longer live by our friends that own the extractor we’ve used. So in the future we may have to settle for old-school style crushing the comb in a colander and letting the honey drip from the wax!
September 11, 2012
For some reason driving past the hatch chile fields is one of the prominent memories from our original drive out here to Kansas from Arizona. So when I saw the hatch chile peppers in the market display, I was inexplicably driven to buy some.
They sat for a few days in my fridge before I figured out what to do with them. I just had to wrap my head around how to make them useful for our family. I remembered (as a good southwestern girl) that we frequently use those little cans of diced green chiles in things like cornbread, my award-winning white chilli recipe, and our fall favorite–sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. So I decided storing the chiles in the form for those recipes would be most useful for us.
I put the peppers under the broiler to blister the skins, transferred them to a paper bag to steam and settle for an hour, then slipped the skins right off and diced them into little 4-oz jars. I’m just going to freeze these, though I could process them if I had a pressure canner–but I don’t, and we do have enough freezer space.
The whole process was pretty straightforward. Now that I know what I’m doing I may go back for some more chiles and put up a handful more jars for the winter. Of course, now a few hours later I’m realizing that maybe next time I should take precaution to protect my hands–the burning has set in.
Oh well. I really do like those sweet potato black bean enchiladas.
September 9, 2012
I decided earlier this summer that we needed a picnic quilt for the family. A quilt that we could use to take outside and sit on the grass in the backyard, or whatever we wanted.
I had a vision of a giant wonky log cabin square as the whole quilt. And I used my vintage sheet stash to make it.
In the end I’m about 85% satisfied with the execution. The wonky log cabin is not quite as “wonky” as I had envisioned. And I also had wanted the quilt to exude more of a sunny yellow personality.
This quilt is fine for now. We have used it many times already, even though I haven’t even put the binding on yet! (It is a picnic quilt after all, its purpose is utility first, beauty second.)
I still just love that fabric with the brown daisies.
So for now we will keep using this quilt, and I’ll continue building up my vintage sheet stash for more complimentary sheets. Then we’ll give the sunny yellow picnic quilt idea another go at some point again in the in the future.
September 5, 2012
Labor Day was the opportunity we were waiting for to remove the honey supers from our hive.
Our big excitement of the day was spotting our queen, for the first time ever! (After a year and a half of beekeeping.) She’s not marked or anything, so it’s tricky. She was actually up on the lower box of supers, so we were a bit confused to see her up there.
The second “big excitement” was my first sting as a beekeeper. Jeremy’s been stung 3 or 4 times, but so far I’ve lucked out. I’ve actually been nervous about getting stung, because I don’t remember being stung by a bee, so I didn’t know how bad it would be.
It wasn’t that bad–it hurt for two or three minutes, then the next day it swelled up to a decent size and is now just itchy. But, with that sting, I am now officially a beekeeper.
We pulled out 17 frames from our two supers to extract honey from. (Not including the two frames we harvested earlier in the summer.)
As soon as we can borrow an extractor from our beekeeping friends, we’ll get this all extracted, into bottles, and up onto shelves in the pantry to get us through this next year.