Tag Archives: Beekeeping

Spring Beekeeping

Hey honeys!

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

As sad as I was to do it, I liberated myself of a couple obligations this week.  Sometimes, even though I care SO MUCH about SO MANY different things, you just have to take a step back and make sure you still have time to do the things you enjoy for yourself, ya know?  One of those things is beekeeping.  I just adore these honey bees, no matter how many times they sting me.  ;)

Sunday, Wheat and I opened up our hives to check on the girls.  We didn’t find what we expected to find, exactly, either.  Our strong hive, the Killer Millers, which we expected to split this spring, we found was weak.  So weak.  They had tons of new honey and comb (pictured above), but so few bees.  The mean old queen was still there though, which was odd.  When a hive swarms, they normally take the old queen with them and leave the new queen (or sometimes, no queen at all).  So the only thing I can figure (because so few bees did not make all that honey) is that the hive already swarmed (which is CRAZY) and they took the new queen with them.  Le sigh.  You never know what those bees are gonna do!

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

My “sweet bees,” our original bee capture, were stronger than EVER!  I’m telling you, bees and honey everywhere! We spotted this queen, too, and she was just laying away.  A bottom box in our double deep (meaning two deep hive boxes without a queen excluder) was chock full of brood.  We even spotted a lot of drones!  So if we don’t do something, this hive will swarm pretty soon, too.  We even found a few in progress queen cups we nipped off.

In these pictures, you can see the white, freshly capped honey.  Fresh wax is pale and light, almost white.

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Just looking at these pictures again makes me so, so happy.  I can’t wait for Spring!

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Bees on bees on bees. :)

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Now for a quick game of (unmarked) Queen Spotting:

Can you find her?

Queen Bee, Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Queen Bee, Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Did you spot her?  She’s right above the word “spot!”  I didn’t exactly manage to center her in the picture.  The sun was so bright I had trouble seeing my phone screen.  She’s a champ!

Then we spotted our marked, mean old biddy of a queen in the Killer Miller hive.  She’s been laying a little, but she’s got her work cut out for her.

Queen Bee, Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

Queen Bee, Honey Bees and Beekeeping on Oysters & Pearls

We plan to harvest honey as soon as it warms up, give the sweet bees some room to expand without swarming and take away some space from the Killer Millers.  I love that just when you think you understand the bees, they show you that you don’t actually know much at all!  Kinda sounds like life.

I hope everyone has a very happy Valentines’ Day weekend!  I’m helping throw my little sister a baby shower tomorrow (that sounds crazy even saying it), then retiring to a steak and a bottle of red at home with my very patient, kind, lovable husband.  We are seeing one of my all-time favorite bands, MoFro, with friends on Sunday, and I plan to relax with a day off on Monday.  Cheers to a wonderful weekend, friends, and don’t forget to hug the ones you love!

Until Next Time

Back to Reality

Normally I would be super bummed to be back to reality, but I’m pretty glad to come back to some semblance of a routine.  Kinda.  If you haven’t been following along on Instagram, let me get you up to speed:

 I’ve been attempting to detox from two to three weeks of boozing and celebrating, catch up on sleep and work, and settle into a less hectic schedule.  So far, so good.  I’ve eaten lots of salads, drank tons of water, been doing yoga every day, walking more (love my fitbit!), and drinking lots of juices.  I even spent a day drinking nothing but juices. That’s about as far as I can get on a cleanse.

I’ve been eating clean, which to me includes one slice of whole wheat bread a day, either turned into avocado toast or almond butter toast with pomegranate.

Almond Butter Toast with Pomegranate | Oysters & Pearls

We’ve dined on shrimp skewers with onions and tomatoes, sautéed baby bok choy, and grilled baby eggplant.

Shrimp Skewers and Veggies  | Oysters & Pearls

And I’ve eaten a lot of delicious salads from Grassroots while working in Thomasville.  They can’t be beat.

Salad from Grassroots Coffee Shop in Downtown Thomasville | Oysters & Pearls

And that cleanse I mentioned?  I drank juice all day long on Saturday.  And then I roasted a chicken when I got home from the Shop.  I feel better – I really do!  Find the recipe for the perfect roasted chicken from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc At Home here.

Ad Hoc at Home Roast Chicken | Oysters & Pearls

Another clean thing we’ve been eating: MORE PHO.  Pho real.  With pho real pictures, too!

Faux Pho at Home | Oysters & Pearls

We basically wanted nothing but broth and vegetables when we got back from wedding-stravaganza, so pho it was.

Shitaake Mushrooms and a Heartwood Forge Knife | Oysters & Pearls Sliced Radishes, Tiny Eggplant, Limes, and Thai Basil for Pho at Home | Oysters & Pearls Quick Pickled Onions and Bok Choy | Oysters & Pearls Pho Ingredients | Oysters & Pearls

Make your own faux pho – here’s how I make my pho.

It’s amazing what a week of yoga, walking, and eating healthy and not drinking will do!  That being said, I had a glass or two of wine last night for my mother-in-law’s and sister-in-law’s birthdays Sunday night. ;)

I gave a presentation to the Lady Banks Garden Club of Thomasville Friday morning on backyard beekeeping.  It was the first time I had given a presentation on bees, and the first time in a long time in general!  I think there are a few more bee-lovers in Thomas County now.

Pictured: Top left: a worker bee (female), top right: a drone (male bee), and bottom is a Queen Bee.

Bee Diagram | Oysters & Pearls

Bee Diagram nabbed from Instagram @girlnextdoorhoney

I also shared a little tidbit I learned from @girlnextdoorhoney (one of my favorite instagram accounts) with the group.  Rather than paraphrase, I’ll just share the screenshot.  Just more proof that bees are divine little creatures.

Girl Next Door Honey Bee Facts | Oysters & Pearls

Amazing, no?

I haven’t been knitting much lately, sadly.  I’ve just been too busy!  I did finish up a hat for Fuzzy Goat as a sample.  It’s the Tin Can Knits Barley hat pattern in Swan’s Island yarn from Fuzzy Goat.

Tin Can Knits Barley Hat in Swan's Island Yarn | Oysters & Pearls

Just before Christmas, I took the plunge and ordered myself my own yarn ball winder!  I got some yarn for Christmas, too, so Sunday I got it out and figured out how to use it and got winding.  I wound up my Malabrigo Rasta and Sweet Georgia (in English Ivy) and look forward to winding center-pull balls for years to come. Malabrigo Rasta and Sweet Georgia in English Ivy, Wound at Home | Oysters & Pearls

Yarn Winding at Home | Oysters & Pearls

I made a sad attempt to start the Ishbel Shawl with that Sweet Georgia yarn (green), but my oh MY it might be over my head.  It begins with a Garter Tab cast on, which is precisely as far as I got.

Garter Tab Cast On for the Ishbel Shawl | Oysters & Pearls

Pure talent right there… le sigh.  Maybe by next Christmas I’ll have a shawl?  HALP.

And that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to!  Cooking more this week, but it’s pretty much been oldies but goodies.  Pho, Quinoa Pilaf, and plans for a venison pot roast this week.  What are y’all cooking?  I need some (healthy) inspiration!

Until Next Time


Southern Makers: Tupelo Honey from Deep South Honey

In case y’all haven’t gotten enough of bees this week (I never will), I thought I would share some thoughts on the pride of the Florida Panhandle and my home town: Tupelo Honey.

The Keeping of Bees  Oysters & Pearls.jpg

I have a bit of sad news.  The tupelo honey harvest was less than stellar this year.  The water rose too high and beekeepers couldn’t get their hives close enough to the tupelo blooms.  On top of the that, between the polar vortex and a late, paltry bloom, the tupelo trees didn’t really fulfill their end of the bargain, either.  I had big plans to share the details on my friend’s honey business, but alas, he doesn’t have enough to sell directly to my readers.  However, I decided it was worth sharing the pictures anyway, because I hail from the land of Tupelo and it’s an important industry in my hometown of Bristol, Florida and the surrounding areas along the Apalachicola River.  So with that introduction, meet my buddy Andrew Finch of Deep South Honey.


Andrew Finch, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

I grew up with Andrew Finch.  A Chattahoochee native, Andrew has been keeping bees for a few years.  Constantly striving to grow his hives and his business, he has upwards of sixty hives now.  He is passionate about his bees and tupelo honey, and he has become a great resource for a novice such as myself.  He has learned from some of the Wewa beekeeping giants, but he says he learns something new every day.

 Snow on the Frame - Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

“Snow on the frames!”

That’s what Finch (as we grew up calling him) said as soon as he cracked open the first hive on the day I visited him in one of his bee yards.

That snow-white wax is a sure sign of tupelo blooming.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bee, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls


I know I talk about tupelo honey a lot, and for good reason.  I mentioned it’s a huge industry in my hometown of Bristol, Florida, along with Hosford, Wewahitchka (aka Wewa) and many other places along the Apalachicola River.  In fact, it’s about the only industry besides timber.  But it’s an industry because of its special qualities.  Tupelo honey tastes amazing.  It’s delicate and light in color and flavor.  And that flavor?  It’s unmistakable.  It’s the only honey that won’t granulate (aka crystallize).  It’s the perfect table honey.  Obviously, I’m biased because I was raised on it, but lots of other people think so, too.  Ever seen the movie Ulee’s Gold?

It was filmed from Hosford to Wewa, with real local beekeepers as stunt doubles for Peter Fonda, and it made our sweet Tupelo Honey pretty famous.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees Making Tupelo Honey; Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls


I’ve been asked before if Tupelo Honey comes from Tupelo, Mississippi.  Most people don’t know what makes Tupelo… well, Tupelo.  Honey is named for the nectar source the bees were feeding on when they made the honey.  Hence Orange Blossom Honey in Central and South Florida, or Wildflower Honey on the Plains, or Pumpkin Honey, or Avocado Honey, or Blueberry Honey, or any one of the many, many varietals of honey.  To get pure varietals of honey, beekeepers must put their bees at the nectar flow just as the species begins to bloom and then remove them just as quickly.

Snow on the Frame, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Tupelo Honey comes from the White Ogeechee Tupelo Tree (nyssa ogeche), which was imported from China many moons ago, and thrives in the river swamps of the Florida Panhandle.

Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls  Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Those little poof balls turn into barely visible white fluff, which may see a little anti-climatic to you and me, but not to the bees.  If you venture out into the swamp when the tupelo is in full bloom, you’ll hear what beekeepers call the “tupelo roar.”  Literally all you can hear around you is the buzzing and humming of millions of honey bees.  Tupelo Trees produce an extremely high nectar flow, and the bees will focus all their energy on this single source of nectar until the bloom is over.  Once it is, the beekeepers must pull the frames or move the bees, lest their precious Tupelo gets tainted with any other source of nectar.
Tupelo Blooms, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

It’s pretty amazing how much honey these bees can make while the Tupelo is blooming, and if conditions are right, they’ll make a whole lot of it.

Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls Honey Bees, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

 Tupelo Tree, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls


I know that everyone is partial to certain types of honey, but I thought I would explain a bit of my love affair with Tupelo.  Keep an eye on Deep South Honey – Finch will update the site if he can sell any directly to you, and has plans to grow his business.  Otherwise, I thought I would include some Tupelo Honey Resources for your browsing pleasure, whether you’re a beekeeper or just a honey-enthusiast.

Honeyville, Deep South Honey | Oysters & Pearls

Deep South Honey

Deep South Honey on Instagram

Tupelo Honey Festival in Wewahitchka, Florida

Tupelo Beekeepers Association

Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey–The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World

The Bee House – Beekeeping Supplies

Smiley Honey

L.L. Lanier & Sons Tupelo Honey

 Until Next Time