Welcome to the Delights Microfarm & Honey Blog
How time flies... almost two months since my last update. I have a few minutes now that our traditional holiday breakfast (Eggs Benedict) has been served, and the turkey is in the oven. The turkey livers were delicious! I made cranberry sauce, cranberry-orange relish and a couple pumpkin pies yesterday. Things a bit different this year with some "gluten intolerant" folks in attendance. I made gluten-free "savory herb" bread for the stuffing, but I caved to the time pressure and bought frozen, gluten-free pie shells for the pumpkin pies. They're smaller than the pie pans I usually use, so the normal filling recipe also fllled some custard cups ... which made a fine dessert last night.
We put up some new Christmas lights (red LEDs) to replace old, non-functional strings on the holly tree.
I cut back the hours for the lights in the chicken coops, to give them some rest over the winter. Anyone wanting our cage free eggs can come to the house (see Contact Us), or get them at Crow's Nest Nursery, in Price's Fork, thru December. Crow's Nest is closed in January & February, but we'll still have eggs & honey for sale here in Radford.
Final winter preparations: feed each of the two new bee colonies a couple gallons of 2:1 sugar syrup (the 2013 colony seems pretty well set, as the double deep weights almost 180 lbs), cut & split about 2 cords of wood for the woodstove (hopefully enough for the season) and drain and run dry the gas-powered equipment (except for the snow-blower).
Hope you all have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!
The Bakery part of Delights is closed, and the baker (me) has officially "retired" ... again. We still sell eggs and raw local honey, subject to availability, and encourage you give us a call (see the Contact Us page).
FWIW, I just extracted some more of the lemonade-color (locust & apple blossom) spring honey, and some medium color summer honey.
Lots more blackberries coming ... will have them at the Pulaski
Marketplace next Tuesday (07/22). We'll also have a few large zucchini
(in excess of 5 lbs each) ideal for seeding and stuffing (with anything
from "Stove-Top" to seafood & wild rice) and baking, as well as our
family favorite Spicy-Sweet Zucchini Relish, which we'll also have for
sale (w/free samples, a fun recipes handout) in Pulaski.
Our blackberries are ripening fast and we'll have a bunch for sale at the
Pulaski Marketplace tomorrow, 4 PM to 8 PM. Come early, as they tend
to sell quickly.
Delights Home Bakery will close soon. Our 2014 season at the Pulaski
Marketplace will be our last baking season. Over the next couple weeks, this
website will morph into a "blog" about our beekeeping and other activites.
A few beekeeping supplies need to be stored in fireproof and critter-proof
containers, lest they become dangerous or be destroyed. For a small-scale
operation like mine, a few military surplus ammo cans (available online
and at many gun shows) fill the bill.
To prevent fire, and to conserve unburned smoker fuel, a lit smoker (std 4" x 7") can be stored safely in an airtight military surplus .50 Caliber ammo can (12" x 7" x 8.5", at left). The rolled up corrugated cardboard is my preferred smoker fuel. After closing the cover on a lit smoker, the combustion will consume the oxygen in the can, extinguishing the fire and creating a vacuum which will make the can hard to open, at least for a while.
Beeswax foundation and pollen patties are expensive, and easily destroyed by mice & insects, unless stored properly. Quite by coincidence, military surplus 30mm ammo cans are exactly the right size (17.5" x 9" x 14") to hold standard/Langstroth beeswax foundation! On the right I've stored 50 sheets of deep foundation and 100 sheets of shallow foundation. A small plastic bag of moth crystals (PDB/paradichlorobenzene) placed on top of the foundation before closing will protect against wax moths, etc. Beeswax does not absorb harmful amounts of PDB.
WARNING: DO NOT use the lit votive candle method (described below for pollen patties) to protect foundation from insects! Beeswax and the tissue paper between the sheets is very flammable!
On the left, about 20 lbs of pollen patties partially fill a 30mm ammo can, which would likely hold 100 lbs or more. Protect pollen patties (typically pollen mixed with honey) from insects by placing a jelly glass containing a lit votive candle on top of the patties just before sealing the can. As with the lit smoker, the flame will consume the oxygen and create a vacuum. The vacuum and lack of oxygen will kill any insects & larvae, and extinguish the flame. Insect larvae that emerge (from eggs in the patties?) after the can is sealed will perish due to the lack of oxygen and abundance of carbon dioxide, even if the vacuum doesn't hold forever.
WARNING: DO NOT USE moth crystals to protect pollen patties, as the absorbed PDB would be harmful to the bees.
On July 3rd, when I checked on the swarm that moved in on June 29th, they covered the six frames and were hanging from the inner cover in the open space. I filled the open space with three frames of new foundation to discourage them from building new comb down from the inner cover.
This morning, at 5 AM, I cut some tall grass, covered the entrance, stapled a piece of 1/8" hardware cloth to hold the grass in place and moved the box into the apiary. At the right, you can see the first few bees venturing out in the new location.
Our thornless blackberries are starting to ripen
and I expect to have some to sell at the July 15th Pulaski Marketplace,
along with some potted tip-roots & suckers for folks who'd like to grow
These spring chickens are a bit feistier than the last couple batches: