Tag Archives: Banks

Earth Day Honey Harvest

Happy Earth Day!

As a Wildlife Ecology & Conservation graduate, you know I had to acknowledge this holiday.  To celebrate Mother Earth, Wheat and I robbed our bee hive of its honey.  ;)

We swapped the frames out last week on the top box of our gifted hive, and we will move them into a new 10 frame double deep at the end of this week instead of the old (and in need of fixing up) 8 frame double deep they are currently living in.  This was our first time harvesting honey, so we were really, really lucky that Wheat’s aunt had all the supplies we needed, along with plenty of sage advice.

We uncapped the honey comb using this hair pick (not really what it is, but it sure looks like it).

Uncapping Honey Comb for Extracting | Oysters & Pearls

Then we placed two frames at a time in the extractor.

Honey Comb in Frame Being Placed into Extractor | Oysters & Pearls

Honey Comb in Frame in Extractor | Oysters & PearlsThe extractor spins the frames around and slings the honey out using centrifugal force.  This is why they call the extracting process “slingin’ honey.”

The honey drains out of the extractor, along with lots of other bits, and into a very fine strainer suspended over a clean bucket.

Unstrained Raw Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Unstrained Raw Honey | Oysters & Pearls

This honey was VERY dark!  I asked Banks (who gave me the bees – they used to be his sweet Daddy Mr. Gene’s bees) about it, and he said that the honey from his dad’s hives in town was always dark, too.  I guess these bees just like some certain species of flowering plant that makes for dark honey?  Or maybe since this honey has been around for a while, it’s just cured really well.  Any seasoned beekeepers out there know why this might bee?

After straining (we covered it and let it strain overnight), we used the gate at the bottom of the bucket to bottle it up!

Raw Filtered Honey | Oysters & Pearls

I haven’t edited or retouched or changed the color at all on these photos.  You can barely see through this honey!

Bainbridge Honey | Oysters & Pearls

But it is delicious!  We are grateful to Banks for giving us these bees, and hope to share most of this honey with friends and family (including Banks and his mama, first off).  I think Mr. Gene would probably get a kick out of knowing that so many people were enjoying his bees, both by reading about them here and by eating the honey.

Bainbridge Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Hopefully we will have more honey to harvest at the end of the summer!

We then put all the equipment and spent frames outside near the hive for the gals to clean up for us.  They got to work right away!

Honey Bee Cleaning Up Frame | Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bee Cleaning Up Frame | Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bee Cleaning Up Frame | Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bee Cleaning Up Frame | Oysters & Pearls

Mother Nature is pretty gosh-darn amazing, and nothing quite demonstrates it so clearly and sweetly as a hive of honey bees.

Happy Earth Day, indeed.

Until Next Time

Adventures in Beekeeping, Part 2: Another New Hive

I’ll keep this post short and sweet, but it’s mainly to update you that Wheat and I have added yet another hive to our first one.  One of my bff’s, Banks, called me last week to see if I wanted his Daddy’s old bee hives, and if there was still one with bees, “did I want it too?”  Well, duh.

So when I got back from lunch last Wednesday, Banks had single-handedly dropped a double-deep hive of bees in our carport.  These bees are made even more special in that they belonged to one of the sweetest men I ever did meet, Banks’ Daddy, Mr. Gene.  Somehow this hive of bees has been hanging on since Mr. Gene couldn’t any more.  It’s pretty amazing, and it means so much to me to have them!

Marc just happened to be in the area and came over when he was done with a job to help me see what was going on inside the hive.  We decided to keep it here, and Wheat and Marc moved it into the backyard.  Then Marc and I removed the lid and checked things out, frame by frame.

Checking for a Queen in a Old Hive | Oysters & Pearls

Even Marc wore a veil this time, as we weren’t sure what was going on in there, and the bees could have been aggressive.  And turns out, they were.  They did what I now call, “come at me, bro,” which is how I describe them flying directly at your face and bumping hard into your veil.  Turns out, this behavior is consistent of a hive without their mother queen.

And we searched every frame and failed to find a queen, nor did we find a single egg.

Checking on an Older Hive That Had Not Been Tended in Multiple Years | Oysters & Pearls

What we did find was lots of honey and pollen!  With no queen, the worker bees had just been filling up the comb with pollen and honey.  The honey was mainly capped off, and dark due to age.  However, it tasted great!

Older Honeycomb from a Queen-less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

It was really neat to see the pollen in the comb.  You can see that different types of pollen the bees were collecting were different colors.

Pollen from Various Sources and Honey in a Queen-less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

The shiny bits of comb are uncapped honey that isn’t ripened yet.  They ripen honey by fanning it with their wings to evaporate the moisture and reduce it to higher sugar levels, then cap it off.  I love beekeeping just for the fact that I’m learning so many new things on a daily basis!  Bees are too cool, man.

Once we determined for sure there was no queen or eggs in there, we put the hive back together and let them settle down.

Disturbed Bees Without a Queen | Oysters & Pearls

Bees at a Queen-Less Honey Bee Hive | Oysters & Pearls

We threw our gear in our vehicles and I met Marc and Anna Jo at my parents for a poorly-timed evening rendezvous with my bees there.  We needed to check to see if the original queen was there, and also check to see if the queen cells we had left in there had hatched.  Turns out, both had happened.

Checking for a Queen Bee | Oysters & Pearls

We found a juvenile queen, as well as the original queen Bee-yonce from the old hive.  We anticipated that one would swarm and take bees with her out of the hive, or alternatively, they would kill each other.  Wheat and I checked on Sunday and the bees were all still there, so we can only assume that Queen Beeyonce put an end to her competition.  You can see above where the bees had added on honey comb to the old honey comb and are starting to fill out the frame.  They’re working hard!

Honey Bees Dislike Dark Colored Clothing | Oysters & Pearls

Also: bees do not like dark pants.  I suffered my first bee sting and spent a good bit of time smoking them off of my britches.  Lesson learned.

UPDATE: We purchased a bred Queen for Mr. Gene’s bees!  She came in this nifty little faux “Queen cell” along with two little worker bees, and we literally stuck her in the hive on 3/31.  We won’t bother them again for two weeks.

Bred Queen Bee for a Queen-less Hive | Oysters & Pearls

The worker bees on either side of the little candy cap at the end of the tube will chew threw the sugar and release her, as if she had hatched from her real Queen cell there.  The plan is for the hive to accept her as their Queen and she should start laying eggs.  Fingers crossed.  Until then, I will go ahead and reveal her name: Queen Latifah.

Until Next Time

Happy Birthday, Jim!

Is it really Monday again already? This weekend was too short!

I had some posts planned for this week, but instead of catching myself up, I’ll do a quick weekend wrap up, and we’ll get to the recipes later.

Jim's Birthday Cake | Oysters & Pearls

It was our good friend Jim’s 30th birthday on Saturday, so we threw him a party! Any excuse to bake a cake.

I picked some basil…

Making Fresh Pesto | Oysters & Pearls

And made some pesto orzo pasta. I won’t rehash it today, but {Click here} for my pesto recipe.

Fresh Pesto Orzo Pasta | Oysters & Pearls

I tried out a new recipe (post coming tomorrow) for a spicy corn salad that was a HIT with everyone.

Spicy Corn Salad | Oysters & Pearls

Everyone brought a steak, and we did a surf and turf supper. I made my baked buffalo shrimp, which everyone seemed to love. {Click here} for the recipe – you won’t regret it.

It was so much fun. We are so fortunate to have a good group of friends and it was great to be able to celebrate Jim’s birthday together.

To recap: there were a lot of laughs shared, and there may or may not have been some “icing” going on that had nothing to do with the cake. We are so mature.

The kids played with Wallace and Harold a whole lot.

SC, Karri & Wallace  | Oysters & Pearls

SC really loves Wallace, who she calls “her kitty.” Wallace, on the other hand, was a little nervous around SC, so they had some supervised visitation with Mrs. Karri.

Karri, SC, & Wallace | Oysters & Pearls

B just chilled and hung out with Harold.

B & Harold | Oysters & Pearls

Note the eyeblack leftover from Friday night. That boy loves football more than any kid I know.

Richard & Jim | Oysters & Pearls

The birthday boy got a lot of hugs from Richard.

And then Banks wanted in on the action and attempted a group picture. But somehow it almost turned into wrestling. I guess boys will boys, no matter how old they get.

This was the best I could do.

Banks, Richard, & Jim | Oysters & Pearls

After much begging and pleading from B, we finally sang happy birthday and Jim blew out the candles so we could eat cake.

Happy Birthday, Jim! | Oysters & Pearls

Jim's Cake & Dessert Table | Oysters & Pearls

I’ll post the cake recipes later this week, but here’s the spread. I gave Jim some pepper sauce and hot sauce I made last weekend (posts still to come – promise!) as a birthday gift. It was a last minute affair so I just threw all this together, but sometimes those are the very best parties. This one was pretty great!

Then yesterday while Wheat played golf, I went to my parents house to hang out and start a couple projects. One involved picking six gallons of grapes. :)

Grapes | Oysters & Pearls

Hope everyone else had a great weekend! It’s back to recipes tomorrow. Happy Monday!