The Honey Cottage- Beekeeping Adventures May 2017

Beekeeping adventures

Have you ever had an experience that was a little scary, exhilarating, and left you absolutely speechless?

At The Honey Cottage we are all about education; whether it is on honey or beekeeping we love talking about bees. On Monday we had a swarm call where the bees were living behind a wall with the goats. So Frank went and gathered up the bees and put them in a beehive away from the goats. With thousands of bees in one area it is sometimes hard to catch the queen bee. She is the most important to catch because she has the pheromones to tell the other bees to follow her. We weren’t sure if she was caught so we had to wait it out the last couple of days. Yesterday we got a phone call that there was a ball of bees were in the same location as Monday, which meant we had not caught the queen bee. We got lucky though; we had a second chance to get the queen! I absolutely LOVE bee-ing with the bees and capturing their life on camera. I am still learning a lot about the bees and how they work. I am a novice beekeeper at best. I broke two key rules that almost put me in harm’s way. Last year I did not were a bee suit due to pregnancy; so I focused all my attention on perfecting my photography skills. Now, I have been up close to the bees and the beehive without having problems. Yet, when you are moving the bees to a new location they are now in protection mode.

Rule number one you should allows where a bee suit on a swarm call. It is just for safety measures and protects you from the bee stings. Rule number two listen to the beekeeper, no matter if it means losing a good photographic moment. I broke both of these rules; we had my bee suit handmade and the hood is not connected to the suit yet and I got cocky and thought I was at a good enough distance to take shots. Frank had a box of bees that he was walking over to the hive and told me to get back. Now, you have to remember this was the second attempt to get the queen; so the bees were more agitated then on Monday. I thought I was far enough to where they would not be affected by my presence. NOPE! At least I remembered rules three and four; walk away when you get the warning signal and be calm no matter what. I have learned that when you are too close to a hive a guard bee will come and basically bump into you. This is a clear warning signal to walk away or you will be stung. If you are too close to the hive and get stung more bees will smell the pheromones and will follow suit to protect the hive. Once the bee did that I realized I really over stayed my welcome. This is where rule number four is so important; I started walking away and more bees were following me. Here is where my excitement and worry started to mix; I knew if I got stung by one it would cause the others to do the same. So I had to relax as much as I could and keep walking. The bees started walking on my face and my hands!! That is where the exhilaration came in because I always wondered what it felt like. It is really hard to stay focused on walking away when that happens. I did get far enough away to have them leave and I jumped back in the car after above five minutes. Sometimes bees will linger around, so jumping back in the car with them following was not an option. In short I learned several lessons and will start taking my own advice; LISTEN TO THE BEEKEEPER AND FOLLOW THE RULES!

From our hive to yours,

Bee Queen

 

HELP SAVE THE BEES!!

IMG_9765

At The Honey Cottage we are dedicated in educating and helping teach people about the importance of bees. Beekeeping should not be just about honey or money, but we are seeing a drastic increase in demand for raw honey. There are a lot of pressing issues that need to be looked at if we are going to save the bees. It takes EVERYONE. You don’t have to be a beekeeper to help either. We actually recommend against it; there is only so much forage per area. Too many beekeepers in one area is taxing on the ecosystem and is stressful for the native bees. Each hive needs approximately one and half acres of constantly blooming plants to be successful. There is a misconception that bees only need the flowers in spring and early summer. This is not true; bees need late summer plants and plants that bloom in fall to be successful during the winter. This is why we are making a BIG push for everyone to HELP beekeepers. PLANT more plants than ever and plant a variety of plants, don’t use pesticides, support your local beekeepers, support your local garden clubs and nursery’s, and set out water sources.

-The more plants we plant as a community means there are more food sources for bees and other pollinators. They also need a large variety of plants so that they have a varied diet and will be much healthier. Plus, flowers will bloom not just in the spring, but summer and fall! They need to eat all the time just like humans do! They need to be able to put enough honey away for the long winters.

– Please don’t use pesticides on the plants!!! Bees pollinate our flowers and our food. If the poison is on the plants it is also going to be in the plant and now will go you’re into your system. Bees also make honey from the nectar that is in the flower. If they are getting the poison in their diet, it is also going in YOUR system. Push for co-planting instead; like planting peppermint, this will deter bugs from eating the plants.

-If you have an interest in beekeeping; start by learning and supporting a local beekeeper and garden clubs. This will help them and you at the same time. Education’s the key; to be a good beekeeper you need to know the bees, the flowers, and the habit in your area.

– Store bought plants can have GMO pesticides and growth retardants on them when they arrive at the store. This is to keep the flowers looking nice by the time they make it to the store; however, the pesticides harm bees. Working with the local garden club can help the club and makes sure the plants are well taken care of and don’t have the pesticides on them. You also support the local economy by working with local beekeeper’s and garden clubs!

– Water sources are very important for bees! We recommend a water basin or bird bath with gravel or 1 inch river stones. The bees are terrible swimmers and the stones will give them plenty of places to land to take a drink of water.

From our hive to yours,

Queen Bee

 

 

Honey Bees in Spring!

We at The Honey Cottage are excited for spring. It’s coming; we have seen the signs and heard from our bee whisperer. The bees are in the peacock feed and enjoying the warmth after a cold winter. Just look at the photos and you will see.

First is what we call bottoms up!!

#1.jpg

This is the time to give the girls a nutrient boost, POLLEN, to make sure they have all the energy they need to start the spring ritual, no sugar for my girls, no man made super food either. We prefer nature made super goodness for our girls. (POLLEN AND HONEY)

2

Of course the pollen needs to bee powered. We use a mortar and pestle and as you can see we get plenty of help!

#3.jpg

Back at the hive; it’s party time and the girls love their pollen. Yes, we also give them honey when needed…ONLY honey!

4

These girls are from a hive that I saved from the eve of a home in the Springs last September and they are doing just fine and no sugar was used.

#5.jpg

6

Yes spring is coming, the bees are buzzing, the sun is shining, my girls are growing, and my wife is glowing. Here’s to a sweet year!!

From my hive to your hive,

The Beekeeper

 

New Bee-ginnings

img_7788

At The Honey Cottage we would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year’s Eve!!! We want to say thank you to everyone for your amazing support! We are working hard to bring more honey into the shop and more unique honey products. We hope to have some amazing surprises in 2017! To make 2017 even more successful; WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! PLEASE share us with everyone on social media; facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn. We want everyone to know that we are here!! We have been told we are the best kept secret in town and we need your help to spread the word that we are here buzzing around! We also need you to please share the things you do with honey or other beehive products on facebook/ twitter or send us e-mails and let us know it is okay to share it! We want to help other customers use honey, beeswax, and other bee hive products to their full potential. With your help we can make a better community of honey users! We are working hard to change the way people think about honey and beekeeping. It is important to us and the bees to really start making a change in how people think. The bees need your help and this year we all need to make a bigger impact on how the bees are taken care of! Mother Nature is giving us a big message and if we listen we can make a better change for the bees! HELP make 2017 a really great year for the bees!!!

From our bee hive to yours,

Queen Bee

Taking care of our bees the organic way!

IMG_6810

Here at The Honey Cottage we have a strong opinion on beekeeping and sugar. I have angered some with my opinion and have been called a tree hugger. I am not a tree hugger, I am a bee hugger; my girls Lily Bee, Alice Bee, and the Queen Bee Crystal.

For me feeding sugar to bees is such a bad idea; I can’t find any reason for it. Some say feeding is necessary for the bees to survive winter! Only if you steal too much from the bees in summer or fall!

Some say you can increase brood production for the winter bees with special sugar to water mixes!
15 plus years ago I was doing as the others were doing and followed this; I don’t follow this anymore!

My distain for sugar in my hives comes from my lovely new wife‘s (Crystal) food allergies and for the nutritional value of honey. When she came into my life my views changed and I started learning the benefits of not using sugar. I started leaving my hives extra heavy for winter and saving comb for spring feeding, if needed, and for starter food for the swarms that come with spring. My hives became more active in spring and I bee-lieve much healthier.

I started beekeeping over 25 years ago because raw honey took all the allergy medication away from my son who was 5, improved his health, and relieved his need for his asthma rescue inhaler. My family was much healthier from eating honey and not sugar. I now see it must bee the same for the bees.

One thing that I have learned is there in no real nutritional value to sugar, I believe the over consumption of sugar has been a real detriment to the health of everyone! Us and yes the bees!

Some say sugar feeding is necessary for the health of the hive and winter survival; again only if too much honey is robbed from the bees by the beekeeper. When bees are thought of as a commodity and nothing more, the bees will die.
I know honey is the profit coveted by most beekeepers, and sugar is cheap, it is just the economics of it all. After all, science has the new protein patties (pollen substitute) and the new super charged sugar syrup for winter feeding, and health of the bees (just $19.95 get it now). Yet our bees die!

You have probably heard about the (NEW) thing called colony collapse disorder. Some do say this new C.C.D is the cause of all the problems with the bees and there is a need for science to step in.

Is this new? No, since the mid 1850’s about every 19 years there has been a C.C.D type loss of bees. This round is by far the worse. Yes the bees are dying. Yes their health is being compromised.
New poisons, viruses, climate change, mono crop farming, and so many other things are the talk of the industry concerning C.C.D., as should bee.  The bee’s diet should be included in the talks; a healthy bee is a strong bee and can overcome many things. Yet our bees die.

The bees have lived on this earth for several million years, now with the help of man our bees die.
Let’s stop the sugar madness, for the sake of the bees.
I don’t know about you, but I eat honey for the nutritional value…for my health and my family’s health.
This honey comes from the bees; a key part of the overall health of the food chain we all need.

I truly believe if we do not take care of the bee’s health they will die; I believe good health comes from their diet. The first step in saving the bees is through good nutrition for the bees. The only food that does not spoil and is, nutritionally speaking a super food, raw honey made by the bees.  Yet we feed them sugar, a man made sweetener with no nutritional value and we wonder why the bees DIE. If the bees die we die!

From our bee hive to yours,

The Beekeeper and his Queen Bee

Buzzing by with Crystal’s Miss Bee-Haven Updates

IMG_6782

We have incredible news; one of our hives survived the winter!!! We were so excited to see bees buzzing around when we took off the protection we had around the hive during the winter. Talk about a happy surprise. Crystal’s miss bee haven is slowly taking off; we have about a quarter acre filled with flowers this year. As we are finding out, sometimes things take smaller steps to be successful. With the help of the flowers we have been able to actually get a small amount of honey from our hive this year. We are always hoping for more, but a good bee keeper knows that smaller amounts are better than no honey at all. Plus, we are of the belief that the more honey we leave behind for winter, the better off our bees are. We would rather find something else to eat then make our bees suffer by feeding them in the spring.

Earlier this month I was interviewed by the incredible Chef Stevie, of A Fresh Take!! She is a Registered Nutritionist, Healthy Chef, and Holistic Health Coach. She is all about healthy cooking, as well as education. On her show we talked about the bees, bee products, and what can be done with honey. As I tell everyone; I am still learning about bees and love sharing what I am learning with everyone. My favorite part was how to cook with honey and my favorite honey recipes! Here is the podcast: http://www.chefstevie.com/podcast.html. Just click on the link and then scroll down to The Buzz about Honey.

We are also very happy to say that we got a new extractor to get honey out of the frames!! This is very exciting for us because it gives us practice extracting honey and it now takes less time! We are hopeful that we will be able to get honey next year for The Honey Cottage. We are very pleased to say that it works well and has given us the opportunity to extract honey from the frames without destroying the beeswax completely. This saves our bees energy and helps them to put away honey faster instead of having to make more beeswax! We are hoping that the color changes here within the next couple of weeks so that we can show the differences between honey harvested at the beginning of summer and later in the summer.

We are in the process of revamping our website; to make it easier for customers to navigate! There have been a lot of struggles with it, so please bee patient as we repair our hive. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn to get the best updates and information as to what is happening in our hive. Lots of surprises are still on the way!!!

Here are a couple of bee-autiful pictures of the honey we have so far!!

From our bee hive to yours,

Queen Bee

Not just a Beekeeper

The last several years have taught us a very big lesson… A Beekeeper is not just a Beekeeper.  To some it may seem like a beekeeper just takes honey puts it into a bottle and that is it.

This is not true, most, beekeepers study, apprentice with another beekeeper or go to school, and work hard to keep their bees happy. Beekeeping is full time work! Beekeepers spend a lot of time educating themselves so they have the latest information.  They also spend a lot of time with the bees making sure they stay healthy and are well maintained from any harm.

Beekeepers are:

Consumers themselves- We are the ultimate consumers of what comes from our hives!!  This is why so much time and care goes into the bee hive. The better the bees are taken care of the better honey will be produced and the better life a bee will have.

Educators- We pride ourselves, like other beekeepers, to be able to answer questions that customers have. We want customers to ask questions because we believe better decisions are made when all information is given.

Activists- Bees are important to our eco system, as well as, our food supply! We want and need them to survive. So we are constantly sharing the importance of saving the bees and how important it is to not use pesticides. We also talk about plants that are bee friendly and other ways to help the bees survive and come back.

Some beekeepers are family oriented! We personally believe what goes into our mouth also goes into our children’s mouth. So we are extra vigilant on what we feed our bees and how we care for them. We believe that how our honey turns out is a direct reflection of how we take care of our bees. We want our children to learn the many different ways to take care of bees, nature, and ultimately themselves.

For us beekeeping is a way of life and a way to keep in touch with nature.

From our bee hive to yours,

Queen Bee11116408_829030313841101_2393526374321456919_o

The Honey Cottage – Beekeeping Adventures continued

Welcome back to The Honey Cottage!

This month was super exciting; we got some amazing pictures of the hive, and our bee suits are almost complete. Lily has been bugging us for weeks asking where her bee suit is and when will she be able to look in the hive.

I used to be afraid that something would happen with my little one if she got near the hive. However, the more education and experience I get with the bees makes me realize how safe she really is. So my gold nugget that I would like to share is; when we give ourselves and children more knowledge, the less fear there will be. Knowledge = power.

As you can see from the picture Lily only has a hood on and is looking into the hive. She was not afraid of the bees at all and I relaxed a lot! I just remembered to keep talking to her and that kept us both calm.

One of the best ways to save our bees is to stop fearing them. They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Bees are looking for food and have no intention on attacking unless they feel threatened. It has been an pleasure learning about these ladies and how they work. So proud of Lily for wanting to be the next generation of beekeepers. Stay tuned and learn what we are up to!

IMG_3529

The Honey Cottage Beekeeping Adventures

This month has been super special for me; I put on the bee suit for the first time and was able to look in the hive. It was a neat opportunity to see what the bees do in the hive. Normally, I would get really excited and bounce off the walls. However, I have had to train myself not to be overly excited. One of the most important things that I have learned about being a beekeeper is that bees can sense fear, excitement and when someone is nervous. So putting on the bee suit was the best way to put everything I learned into practice; especially learning how to stay calm.

It was so incredible to be able to put into practice all that I have learned. To be able to be open up the hive by myself (with Frank’s direction of course) and look into the hive was beyond words. To see the frames of honey and brood was very educational because it increased my thirst for knowledge. Seeing pictures has been very helpful for me, but being able to actually have the hands-on experience was even better.

My head keeps saying I want to get closer without the suit; I want to take chances, and see what it is like having bees all around me. Thankfully, I have a fantastic teacher like Frank who finally sat me down and explained why it is so important not to take chances. I am excitable person and if I got stung I would not stay calm, this in turn would cause the other bees to attack because they now would feel threatened.

So I am very happy to say that I am thrilled to be a beekeeper. I always thought that it was too much and that I would not ever be able to be up close to the hive. I can’t believe that I ever feared bees. This in turn tells me what we need to do with our little one. I don’t want her to fear bees and want her to learn how important bees are for our future. Needless to say, beekeeping is so cool and I am so excited to be able to share my experiences as a new beekeeper.

I am very happy to say that we have been getting some great pictures of the bees and flowers that are bee friendly. A lot of our flowers are blooming!!! We have also been getting some AMAZING pictures of the inside of the bee hive as well as the outside. Stay up with us to see what we are doing here at The Honey Cottage!!!

From our bee hive to yours,

Queen Bee

IMG_2981

The Honey Cottage updates

We have big news!  Crystal’s Miss Bee Haven has broken ground, we officially have the land ready for plants!!  Our plants are pre-planted in smaller containers.  Our new hives are going and the ladies are hard at work!!  We have seeds ready at The Honey Cottage for you to help us to SAVE THE BEES with us!!  A bee suit is in Crystal’s and Lily’s future, so stay tuned to all the new and exciting things we are doing at The Honey Cottage and at Crystal’s Miss Bee Haven to help the bee population.  Please remember: plant wild flowers, don’t use pesticides, and INFORM OTHERS HOW THEY CAN HELP SAVE THE BEES!!!  We need everyone to help save our beeautiful pollinators!!!

Crystal’s Miss Bee Haven- the beeginnings!

IMG_2516

From our bee hive to yours,

Frank