Late May is a busy time of the year around here. The last frost usually falls between Mother’s Day and the beginning of June so there’s all sorts of planting/ transplanting going on. The girls are wrapping up school and we’re out almost every evening with a recital, awards ceremony or some other wrap-up-the-year event.
Late May is also when the bees come. No, they’re not migrating. They arrive at the Post Office. We order our bees from Wolf Creek Apiaries in Tennessee. By now their bee season has been in full swing for months. Ours is just getting started. We’ve had the early flush of fruit trees flowering but the bulk of our flowers won’t be coming out till June on. » » »
Farm to table is a popular meme these days. It evokes all sorts of romantic notions of land stewardship, organic foods and right living. It lets those who would like to participate in this vision without actually farming themselves close the loop by buying from small local farmers at the farmer’s market or eating at restaurants that carry local food.
The boxcar of Boxcar Farm
I got to briefly meet some people last week who are right smack dab at the origin of the cycle. Kristen and Avrum Katz are the proprietors of Boxcar Farm up in Peñasco, New Mexico and by up I mean 8,000 feet up in the air. Their high mountain farm picks up more moisture which allows them to do more growing with less irrigation. I have to admit I was more than a little jealous of their lush pastures although I know they endure some harsh winters in the bargain. » » »
To see the first part in this series click here to read ‘Lost: Bees’
Two weeks ago Mike and I were down at my parents to check on our bees and feed them if they needed it. We had them in Albuquerque because the winters are much milder than in Santa Fe. After the winter of 2010 with its record breaking temperatures of -25 degrees we wanted to do everything we could to help them thrive.
Checking a comb.
Surprise! When we opened the hives this year four of them were empty, not a trace of bees. Apparently the bees had just flown away. What had been the strongest hives still had several combs full of honey. The fifth hive had a bee colony but they were all dead. » » »
We love being beekeepers. We buy special smaller (more natural) sized bees and don’t treat them with any chemicals. We only feed them honey and Mike makes them special homes that allow them to live closer to how they would in the wild. We started with two colonies two years ago and added three more last spring for a total of 5 beehives.
After last winter’s unusually cold temperatures (25 below) and the drought that followed in the spring and summer we decided to take them down to my parents house this winter to give them a little R & R. My parents live a quarter mile from the Rio Grande river in the middle of an area full of small farms filled with alfalfa and flowers. One night late last fall we waited until after dark so that we were sure everyone was home and sealed the hives. We packed them in the truck and drove them down to their winter home. All seemed well. We set them up and filled their feeders with honey to help them get through the winter. » » »
A few weeks ago we gave you the low-down on why we started beekeeping. We knew nothing about beekeeping when we decided to become beekeepers. In the months before our first hives arrived we found ourselves pouring over every book on the subject we could find. We also attended a day long workshop for beginning beekeepers. One of the big surprises about keeping bees was the amazing assortment of things we could harvest from the beehive besides honey. We’ve done a brief overview; if you’d like to go more in depth, click on the heading of each title.
Honey from our first year
The taste of honey will differ depending on the time of year and what type of nectar the bees are bringing in. It’s a simple sugar (glucose and frutose) that contains enzymes and antioxidants.
Mike: Did you know honey is actually bee vomit?
Molly: Yeah, thanks for reminding me. Technically it is but they have a special stomach just for honey making. I have a spoonful every morning and cleanse my face with honey. It’s a humectant and has antibacterial qualities. My skin has never been more balanced or healthy since I started using it a year ago. Before I started using it I was having redness and dry skin. I was spending more and more money on products that were organic and expensive but none of it helped. » » »
Two years ago we decided to become beekeepers.
Molly: I think I came home from work one night after talking to some women who wanted to start keeping bees and said wouldn’t it be fun if…
Mike: and I ran with it? » » »