Garlic and Honey Roasted Squash by Honey Hunter


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I love autumn, the season when the leaves turn red and the farmer’s market close to me is abundant in winter squashes.

Butternut squash is available to buy for most of the year (in supermarkets), however some of the more unusual varieties of squash only appear at this time of the year. It is worth looking out for them in farmer’s markets and of course they taste fabulous roasted with honey (as are honey roasted carrots).

Honey roasted squash is a simple and easy to make side dish and below is a quick recipe.

The cooking is mostly hands-off, and the prep is easy!

For a list of ingredients and instructions visit: Garlic and Honey Roasted Squash — Honey Hunter


Pollen Substitute

I live on a sand hill. No joke, a sand hill with minimal nutrition for plants. It’s mostly pine and scrub oaks. Some hardwoods have found a way to survive and provide some forage for the bees. Drought resistant wildflowers come up along the roadways and power lines. The chain of nutrients from soil to plant to bloom doesn’t improve along the journey.

Although it can be said I live in the pollen belt, the pollen here is of poor quality. I have resigned myself to providing supplemental food for the bees during the times of pollen and  nectar dearth. They won’t take it if nature provides something better.

I had a professor in college once that said protein was the currency standard in food and nutrition. More and more we are learning that with our honey bees it plays a vital role in their immune systems as well. A well fed bee is a healthier bee.

Winter Solstice and Honey Bees by settlingforbees


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The winter solstice signals more than the first official day of winter.  In the natural world, animals use the changes in available daylight to signal their actions.   Eventually, longer daylight hours will signal song birds to sing more to attract mates and begin laying eggs and dormant plants to emerge and begin anew.  Remarkably, the winter solstice signals honey bees to begin spring preparations now.

Read the full article here: Winter Solstice and Honey Bees — settlingforbees

Winter Solstice for Bees




The Winter Solstice means something different to beekeepers. It’s typically associated with the beginning of winter for humans. But for the bees it’s the beginning of spring. Very slowly, as the days lengthen the queen will begin an increase in the number of eggs she lays. On a colony level, for the bees, the goal is to have a full staff of bees ready to reproduce on a colony level (i.e. swarm) at the beginning of plant nectar and pollen production (best chance of survival). That means preparations such as brood rearing begin during the first months of the new year resulting in hives bubbling over with bees by March. But it has other ramifications for the beekeeper wishing to discourage that workforce from leaving. The beekeeper seeks to 1) encourage brood rearing while 2) protecting the colony from starvation as the bees feed ever increasing numbers of larvae, while 3) discouraging swarm preparations in the same time period. It’s like walking a tightrope!

Many Uses of Beeswax




For the young lady who came up to me at last night’s farmer’s market and purchased two bars of beeswax. I asked what your plans were and you said you didn’t know yet. We discussed some things that came to the top of my mind but as I drove home I remembered lots more uses which I wish I had shared. I hope you see this post which, actually, is just the beginning. An internet search on any of these items adding in the term “recipe” should get you more detailed information on homemade applications.

To start, a good article titled “25 Uses of Beeswax” by Paleomama can be found here:

and for a quick list of brainstormed uses here are some quick ideas:

101 Uses for Beeswax

Thank you Crafting Montana for coming up with this great list

1) lubricant for very old furniture joints.

2) Smooth movement for doors and windows.

3) Component for mustache creams.

4) Prevents bronze items from tarnishing.

5) Use as a rest prevention.

6) Furniture polish when mixed with linseed oil and mineral spirits in equal parts.

7) covering cheeses and preservatives to protect from spoilage.

8) Conditioner for wood bowls and cutting boards.

9) Coat nails and screws to prevent wood from splintering.

10) Used by NASA with an enzyme to mop up oceanic oil spills.

11) Cake guitar bodies to boost longevity.

12) Coat tambourine surfaces for thumb roll playing technique.

13) Coat reeds for woodwinds to get a tight fit.

14) Egg painting in a Ukraine folk art of Pysanky.

15) An essential ingredient in Indian art of fabric dyeing called Batik printing.

16) Candles that don’t drip and have no smoke.

17) In candy like gummy bears, worms and jelly beans.

18) To water proof leather.

19) Molten beeswax to polish granite counter tops.

20) To make crayons.

21) With palm oil for soap.  The palm oil reduces scars and the wax a natural moisturizer.

22) Mix with palm wax for a natural hair remover.

23) To reduce bow string friction.

24) on whips to water proof.

25) in bullets.

26) With comfery and chick weed powder to alleviate itching.

27) Wire pulling.

28) Sewing to strengthen the thread and prevent snagging.

29) To fill seams between pieces of slate when setting up a pool table.

29) Plucking the feathers from fowl.

30) As a flexible mold for a variety of mediums.

31) Jewelry.

32) Clean your clothes Iron.

33) In glass Etching.

34) Encausting Painting.

35) To make earplugs.

36) Ear Candling.

37) When fashioning Dreadlocks.

38) To make Dental floss.

39) For cracked animal hooves.

40) When making cosmetics.

41) When making chocolates.

42) Copper sinks.

43) Removing previous waxes.

44) In Blacksmithing.

45) Basketry.

46) To coat Baking pans for smooth exit of goods.

47) To coat the hemp strings on Bag Pipes.

48) To make balms.

49) Barbeque preparation.

50) When making healing salves, creams and ointments.

51) Use in pharmaceuticals.

53) In manufacturing of electronic components and CDs.

54) As a polish for shoes and floors.

56) To unsticking drawers.

57) Keep zippers moving smoothly.

58) To water proof boots and saddles.

59) To coat hand tools to prevent rust.

60) To lower cholesterol, ulcers, diarrhea and hiccups.

69) To relief pain, swelling (inflammation)

70) In beverages.

71) In manufacturing as a thickener or emulsifier.

72) In fragrances in perfumes.

73) To seal documents.

74) An ingredient in surgical bone wax.

75) Blended with pine rosin to serve as an adhesive.

77) A metal injection molding binder component.

76) In the embalming process.

78) As a stabilizer in the military explosive Torpex.

79) To coat hemp strends – an alternative use to lighters.

80) A natural Air purifier (when used in candles).

81) Glazing of fruits and vegetables.

82) Chewing beeswax can help quit the habit of smoking.

83) As a hair pomade.

84) Grafting plants.

85) In the restoration of pictures.

86) Wax fly fishing lines so they float.

87) To keep saws sharp.

88) Grinding and polishing of optical lenses.

89) Used in crafting of dentures and other dental equipment.

90) To seal and polish smoke fired pottery.

91) Used on snow skis for a good glide.

92) Used for base ring for toilets (in the past).

93) Use3d to cover a broken wire on braces until you get to your orthodontist.

95) To prevent stretch marks.

96) Saturate cardboard with beeswax and use as a fuel for a backpackers fuel for stove.

97) Beeswax candle as emergency heat when trapped in a car or small space.

98) Temporary filling until you can see your dentist.

99) To seal stick matches to stay dry when boating, fishing or skiing.

100) To prevent slippage for belts in vacuums and sewing machines.

101) As a wood filler

read more Crafting Montana



Spelling Bees with Uncommon Names by Bad Beekeeping Blog



I’m not a grammarian, I don’t have the most hugest vocabulary, and I have been known to produce some pretty bad spells of whetther – but even I appreciate the right word, used and spelt correctly. Without rules, confusion reigns (and rains and rains).  I’m glad when someone points out errors I’ve made – it gives me a chance to learn.

I’m coming back to something I’ve written about before and then I’m moving on to something I’ve never written about.  Honey bee – it really should be two words, not one. I think the single word honeybee is just plain wrong. But I notice that some dictionaries disagree with me. Webster’s, for example.  Webster’s has also allowed yellow jacket instead of yellowjacket, which is just plain ridiculous. But then, Wikipedia also has an entry for ‘yellow jacket’ instead of yellowjacket, so maybe the whole world is coming to a spectacular illiterate end.


Read fully article here: Spelling Bees with Uncommon Names — Bad Beekeeping Blog

You Know You’re a Beekeeper when…




You know you’re a beekeeper when… By John Caldeira, with contributions from many others.

The windshield of your vehicle has at least two yellow dots on it.

You have answers ready for questions about Africanized bees and the value of local honey in preventing allergies.

You eagerly await the phone call from the post office asking you to please come pick up your bees.

You check out all the honey labels and prices at the supermarket.

You’ve gone through the supermarket checkout line buying nothing more than a big load of sugar, and maybe some Crisco.

You’ve estimated just how much money you spent to control mites.

You pick up matches at restaurants, even though you don’t smoke.

Your friends and neighbors think you are the answer to every swarm and bees-in-the-wall problem.

You are keenly aware of the first and last freezes of each winter.

There is propolis on the steering wheel of your vehicle and the bottom of your boots.

There is a bucket of something in your garage that can only be good for smoker fuel.

You are called “the Bee Man,” or “the Bee Lady” by a lot of people who don’t know your name.

You know the bloom period of more local flowers than the state horticulturist.

You welcome a rainy weekend if it will stimulate nectar production.

You don’t mind driving home with a few honey bees inside your vehicle.

Your family and friends know exactly what they’re going to get for Christmas.

You don’t mow the lawn because the bees are working the weeds.

You drive down a road and find yourself evaluating the roadside flowers for their honey-producing potential.

You pull over and check the bees on the wildflowers just to see if they are YOUR bees, AND — you can tell the difference.

You come home smelling like a camp fire, and you haven’t been camping.

You saw Ulee’s Gold and didn’t think there were enough shots of the bees.

You overhear your 9 year old daughter explaining to her friends how to tie a trucker’s hitch.

The school principal calls to ask that you never again let your child take a drone tied with a thread to school for show and tell.

You never stop marveling at these wonderful creatures.

Excerpts from the above list were published in American Bee Journal (December, 1998), which prompted the following responses from readers:

You know you’re married to a beekeeper when…

You spend at least one day a week on your hands and knees with a sharp knife scraping wax and propolis off your kitchen floor.

You’ve ever used bee boxes as furniture in your house, for coffee tables, chairs, night stands, and storage boxes.

You mow around mountains of bee equipment that never seems to make it to the barn.

You plan weddings, child birth, surgery and funerals around honey extracting time.

When buying a new truck, your spouse checks weight loads and measures the bed to see how many hives he can fit in it.

You get stung by the bee that was clinging to your husband’s bee suit when you picked it up to wash it.

and from our local discussion group:

You know you’re a beekeeper when the seat of your car or truck has a hole where the hive tool punched through.

If the smell of bananas at your local farm stand sends you into a momentary panic…

You might be a beekeeper if, while cleaning out the garage, you get excited when you find a couple misplaced SHB traps.

You might be a beekeeper if you visit the SC Surplus Salesroom and the only things that interest you are table saws (for cutting boxes), kettles (for melting wax), deep freezers (for freezing frames), and hot water heaters (for that distant honey house).

You watch Ulee’s Gold just to see the shots of the honey bees.

You might be a beekeeper if you go into a manic state of excitement when your spouse reminds you that you left a 50# bag of cane sugar in her car trunk 2 months ago and she’d like it removed.

You look through beekeeping catalogs for beekeeping equipment you think you can make.

When you have more pictures of your bees than of your kids — and justify it by claiming bees only live six weeks, there are different bees in each picture.

When, after being asked how the bees stay warm overwinter for the eighth time, you’ve joked about knitting them sweaters — and someone believed you.

When you finally said, ‘no, they don’t sting me’ because it was faster to say that than spend the time explaining things to non-beekeepers.

The inside of your clothes dryer has propolis spots.

You have to buy a new freezer for your food because the other is full of frames.

When you buy a second dishwasher to put in the garage to clean plastic frames prior to re-waxing because it’s easier than the pressure washer.

Someone gets in the car with you and ask if you had been smoking!

You might be a beekeeper if you consider using Swarm Commander as an aftershave.

You might be a beekeeper if you use a tractor front loader and deer stands to retrieve swarms.

Honey Cookies by The Honey Cottage


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Have you noticed; when you make a switch to something your taste buds just won’t let you go back?

I used to love store bought cookies and when other people made cookies. Until, I tried this recipe. Now no matter what I try to eat, it just tastes way too sweet for me. I really love this recipe because you can add little things to make it taste different. I also like that I can freeze them so if I am not in the mood to make them, I have some ready! However, they never last long enough in our house. I really have a bad habit of eating them for breakfast too!


1 cup of honey

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup softened butter

1 egg

¾ cup chocolate chips

1 ¼ cup of white wheat flour

1 tsp. baking powder

Full recipe here: Honey Cookies — The Honey Cottage

Honey Egg Nog


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My friends know I love Egg Nog. I look forward to seeing it being offered in the stores each year. Enjoy this recipe by on making homemade Honey Egg Nog.


Eggnog is a wonderful rich festive drink, something of a dessert in a cup and much more indulgent than mulled wine. It doesn’t have to be made with spirits, so you can make a non-alcoholic batch for the kids and the designated drivers. But it’s better with the rum and brandy! I recommend using one of the heather honeys as they work well with spice. 


    • 1 cup honey
    • 1 cup warm water
    • 1 cup light rum
    • 1 cup brandy
    • 12 free range egg yolks
    • 1 1/2 cups milk
    • 1 1/2 cups cream
    • Garnish: grated allspice, ginger or nutmeg

Note: 1 cup is 240ml


In the bowl of an electric mixer, dissolve the honey in the water. Stir in the light rum and brandy thoroughly. Beat the mixture, gradually beating in the egg yolks, the milk, and the cream. Beat the eggnog until it is foamy and serve it in individual glasses with a dusting of grated allspice, nutmeg or ginger.

As the recipe contains raw egg it is unadvisable for those whose immune system is less strong. We don’t recommend giving it to small children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with a low immune system.

Recipe reproduced from Epicurious: Here

Napoleon and the Honeybee by Bees on the Roof


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Next time you have a reason to check out Napoleon Bonaparte’s coat of arms, look closely at the left hand side. You will see a grouping of honeybees — Napoleon’s choice to represent his imperial rule.

The bee apparently sent several different messages to Napoleon’s constituents. It referred back to earlier French kings who chose the bee as a symbol of immortality and resurrection. The bee is also a nod to French industry where it was incorporated into clothing, curtains, carpets and furniture.

Read the entire blog post here: Napoleon and the Honeybee — Bees on the Roof

Featured image of embroidered bee source: The Honey Bee Conservancy

Selecting Honey Bee Stock by deltavalleyapiary


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In my experience, selecting bee stock is the most important decision when starting in Bees. If you choose the wrong type, you can wind up with an aggressive bee or a disease ridden colony. Here is a quick-start guide to help aid you in your search for the perfect strain for you.

Apis Mellifera is the main scientific classification for European Honey Bees. There are several sub-species and hybrid species available.  We will start our journey with the German Bee.

Read more of this at: Lesson 1: Selecting Honey Bee Stock by  deltavalleyapiary  

Getting Started in Beekeeping?


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Accepting What Is

As the local beekeeping association Secretary I received lots of email and often it involved a request from non members wanting to get involved in beekeeping. They believe they’ve done their homework which, mostly, has consisted of surfing Facebook and YouTube. They’ve asked lots of people how to best get started in beekeeping. After polling the answers they start to see two particular suggestions rising to the top: 1) Join your local association and 2) get a mentor. From there they deduce that they can most likely accomplish both by sending an email to the local association asking for a mentor to help them get started.

I have a very nice, polite email I send back moving them in the right direction to accomplish both getting them in contact with experienced beekeepers and a course of action to increase their likelihood of success.

As beekeepers know, it takes numbers to be successful. If you don’t believe me make a split with insufficient nurse bees or capped brood. Timing is essential as well, start a task at the proper time and all goes easily. Success with a swarm in early April is a piece of cake; success with a swarm in August is difficult. And so it is with folks not yet knowledgeable of the mechanics of beekeeping. They want bees and a mentor not knowing the amount of effort it will take nor the proper timing in order to increase the chance of success that first year.

You too will get inquiries from friends and people you come in contact with once they know you are a beekeeper. Be prepared to help them get off to a realistic start if you want them to be successful. And that’s what it’s really about isn’t it? One hundred new beekeepers joining the association is great but not so impressive if half fail their first season because they had unrealistic expectations.

Let’s look at the “getting a mentor” concern. The old school model of getting a mentor went something like this: The mentee sought out a mentor and agreed to spend the first year helping the mentor in the mentor’s bee yard. The mentee would show up at an agreed on day and time and look over the shoulder of the mentor as he went through his hives, talking as he did so. Watch, listen, learn. Move boxes as needed and help the mentor as the tasks necessitated. This would go on for a season and the next Spring the mentor would make a split and give it to the mentee to take care of at the mentor’s yard. The mentee would work his new hive and the mentor would look over his shoulder to make sure he didn’t make any mistakes and was able to correctly comment on what he was seeing and the correct action to take. At the end of that season the mentee took his hive home and became a beekeeper.

Somewhere along the way we have deviated from this model. Now we take new comers into the hobby, put them through a 20 hour course and expect them to survive. It’s like making an early March split – risky. Nowadays the mentee wants the mentor to make visits to the mentee’s yard for instruction. And inasmuch as the clubs and associations have promoted getting the newcomers’ bees perhaps that seems reasonable to take some responsibility for assisting with issues that will naturally come up.

If we are going to move to a new model then perhaps we need to clarify and revise some terms. As it now stands we’re mixing and matching old school and new school. The new beekeeper wants a mentor, bees, and instruction. That’s reasonable. The problem is one of numbers though (remember that early Spring Splits analogy?). Most clubs can’t provide a 1:1 mentor for 100 new beekeepers every year nor should anyone expect mentors to volunteer to run around town visiting mentees weekly. So we must marry the expectations of the new beekeeper and the club acting as mentor. Each side gives and gets a bit.

We do that by returning to the old school model whereby the mentee gets his/her education by visiting the mentor but no longer at the mentor’s beeyard nor by a single mentor. The new model has the mentee visiting many mentors at events like 1) monthly meetings, 2) local beekeeping educational events, 3) dinner before meetings, 4) online discussion groups 5) State Conferences, 6) connecting through fellowship with bee buddies, community outreach, etc. The list goes on… The mentee that wants to learn this art, like historically, has the resources offered and available, and they go to learn – as before. The club or association organizes monthly meetings, presentations, events, newsletters, club library, allows for face to face fellowship time monthly, and online discussion groups. All things considered, the new beekeeper has more opportunity nowadays to gather knowledge than they used to with the old school model AND they get their bees their first year.

If you’ve suffered through my ruminations this far, I commend your endurance. I gave two similar presentations at the South Carolina Beekeepers Conference. I encourage the new beekeeper to take advantage of what is. There are multiple opportunities available to new beekeepers – enough to succeed. I also push the concept of bee buddies and fellowship for those that need a 1:1 relationship. Occasionally I hear someone moan about not having a mentor as they had hoped. That’s unfortunate because they are cheating themselves out of the good of what is while wasting time wishing for the unlikelihood of what they envisioned. The fact of the matter is they have a room full of mentors at every meeting, at every gathering, at every conference. My mom used to say, “Go do the very best you can with what you’re offered. You do everything You can and You’ll succeed.” Mom was smart at marrying “what is” with success.

Trapping Honey Bee Swarms


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Last spring, first swarms came very early to the South Carolina Midlands- around February 15th. That sounds like a long time from now but it will get here sooner than you think and swarms are unforgiving with beekeeper tardiness. Building and getting ready for swarm trapping is something that you should consider doing during these off months of winter. Remember, once swarm season starts you’ll probably be caught up in preparing your own hives for the primary nectar flow and have a limited amount of time to prepare traps. However, for those who are prepared there will be free bees. Here are a few sites I recommend:…/trapping-quick-reference-guide/…/swarm-trap-free-plans.shtml

And multiple videos by outofabluesky:

I promote swarm traps as another part of good beekeeping. Swarm management starts within your own hives and can go a long way to reducing the number of swarms that issue from your apiary. Intensive management can come close to eliminating swarms. However, life happens and you will experience the occasional swarm. Some thoughts on the matter:

1) The swarms you catch in a trap will typically perform better than the ones you knock out of a tree.

2) You’ll lose a portion of the swarms that issue for various reasons like too high in a tree, etc. It’s really nice when that swarm you had to leave in the tree shows up in your trap the next day.

3) Coupled with good swarm management in the hive, and capture of those swarms easy to gather, adding traps is good stewardship. Dr. Lawrence Connor in his book, Increase Essentials, says only 1 in 6 swarms survive their first winter. By capturing them you’re increasing their chances of survival.

4) Swarm captures makes better neighbors. Some neighbors will be as fascinated as you are at the miracle of swarming; others won’t. Capturing your own swarms may prevent you some heartache.

And finally, here’s an excellent, free, eight page article on the biology on swarming and nest selection with excellent advice on swarm trapping:

Bait Hives for Honey Bees by Thomas D. Seeley, Roger Morse, and Richard Nowogrodzki


Tucked in, What Now?


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The cold weather is here, You’ve done what you can to tuck them in for the coming season. So, what are you going to do with all your time now?

1) Continue to lift the back of your hives to check for weight. Now is why you learned this method of assessing stores.

2) Perform maintainance on honey supers pulled off hives – painting or otherwise.

3) Assemble new equipment for next year – boxes, frames, stands, etc.

4) Order packages, nucs, or queens.

5) Plan for changes you’re going to impliment next season.

6) Call, visit, or write farmers or landowners where you’d like to place hives for out yards next spring.

7) Attend local and state beekeeper meetings.

8) Scout trees for placement and prepare swarms traps. Construct swarm capture bucket.

9) Build a nuc now to keep in your car or truck for community swarm captures next spring. Register with on-line swarm call lists.

10) Order or ask Santa for a copy of that beekeeping book you’ve been wanting to read. Read some every day.

Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson


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Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson – Born Dec. 10, 1830

The Bee
By Emily Dickinson

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

A team of archaeologists is rediscovering just how extensive Emily Dickinson’s garden was. Historical evidence shows Emily Dickinson’s Garden contained an abundance of blooming flowers. Archaeologists recently uncovered portions of a pathway leading to nineteenth-century flower and vegetable beds.Emily Dickinson – was an American poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts. (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) ~ during her lifetime she “was known more widely as a gardener, perhaps, than as a poet”. Emily Dickinson’s niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, remembered “carpets of lily-of-the-valley and pansies, platoons of sweetpeas, hyacinths, enough in May to give all the bees of summer dyspepsia. There were ribbons of peony hedges and drifts of daffodils in season, marigolds to distraction—a butterfly utopia” Archaeology – Remnants of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens Sought

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS—Emily Dickinson is known today as one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century, but in her lifetime she may have been more renowned for her gardening. At her family estate, she helped to tend an orchard, a greenhouse, and an expanse of flower and vegetable gardens. The size of these gardens was dramatically decreased in the decades after Dickinson died in 1886, but now a team of archaeologists is searching for their remnants. Last summer, they uncovered portions of a pathway leading to nineteenth-century flower and vegetable beds. “If we can follow out the historic path to its end, then theoretically we would find the location of past gardens,” Kerry Lynch of Archaeological Services at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the New York Times. If they do locate these gardens, the archaeologists hope to find seeds or other botanical evidence dating back to when Dickinson was alive.

Archaeology – Remnants of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens Sought

Emily Dickinson


Grilled Dijon Honey Fingerling Potatoes by June Cleaver 21st Century Style


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These are a great crispy and flavorful potato recipe that keeps you from slaving over a stove or oven to make.  It may be fall where I live, but the weather is more like summer, so I have been trying to avoid using my oven as much as possible.  These are made on the grill so they would also make for a great side dish to any cookout meal.

Read entire recipe here: Grilled Dijon Fingerling Potatoes — June Cleaver 21st Century Style

Happy Birthday Amos I. Root


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Amos Ives Root – Born December 9, 1839 (1839–1923)

Biography of A. I. Root
Written by E. R. Root

A. I. Root was born in a log house, December 9, 1830, about two miles north of the present manufacturing plant of The A. I. Root Co. He was a frail child, and his parents had little hopes of raising him to manhood, although some of the neighbors said his devoted mother would not let him die. As he grew older his taste for gardening and mechanics became apparent. Among his early hobbies were windmills, clocks, poultry, electricity, and chemistry —anything and everything in the mechanical line that would interest a boy who intensely loved machinery. Later on we find him experimenting in electricity and chemistry; and at 18 he is out on a lecturing-tour with a fully equipped apparatus of his own construction.

We next find Mr. Root learning the jeweler’s trade, and it was not long before he decided to go into business for himself. He accordingly went to an old gentleman who loaned money, and asked him if he would let him have a certain amount of money for a limited time. This friend agreed to lend him the amount, but he urgently advised him to wait a little and earn the money by working for wages. This practical piece of advice, coming as it did at the very beginning of his career, was indeed a God-send, and. unlike most boys, he decided to accept it. Imbued with a love for his work, and having indomitable push, he soon earned enough to make a start in business, without borrowing a dollar. The business prospered till A. I. Root & Co. were the largest manufacturers of real coin-silver jewelry in the country. From $200 to $300 worth of coin was made weekly into rings and chains, and the firm employed something like 15 or 20 men and women.

It was about this time, or in 1865, that a swarm of bees passed over his shop; but as this incident is given so fully in the introduction I omit it here. Not long after he became an A B C scholar himself in bees, he began to write for the American Bee Journal under the nom de plume of “Novice.” In these papers he recounted a few of his successes and many of his failures with bees. His frank confession of his mistakes, his style of writing, so simple, clear, and clean-cut, brought him into prominence at once. So many inquiries came in that he was finally induced to start a journal, entitled Gleanings in Bee Culture of this, now his business grew to such a size that the manufacturing plant alone covered five acres, and employed from 100 to 200 men —all this and more is told in the Introduction by the writer.

As an inventor Mr. Root has occupied quite a unique field. He was the first to introduce the one pound-section honey-box, of which something like 50,000,000 are now made annually. He made the first practical ail-metal honey-extractor. This he very modestly styled the “Novice,” a machine of which thousands have been made and are still made. Among his other inventions may be named the Simplicity hive, the Novice honey-knife, several reversible frames, and the metal-cornered frame. The last named was the only invention he ever patented, and this he subsequently gave to the world long before the patent expired.

In the line of horticultural tools he invented a number of useful little devices which he freely gave to the public. But the two inventions which he considers of the most value is one for storing up heat, like storing electricity in a storage battery, and another for disposing of sewage in rural districts. The first named is a system of storing up the heat from exhaust steam in Mother Earth in such a way that greenhouses and dwelling-houses can be heated, even after the engine has stopped at night, and for several days after. The other invention relates to a method of disposing of the sewage from indoor water-closets so that “Mother Earth,” as he calls it, will take it automatically and convert it into plant life, without the least danger to health or life, and that, too, for a period of years without attention from any one.

Some of the secrets of his success in business may be briefly summed, up by saying that it was always his constant aim to send goods by return train, and to answer letters by return mail, although, of course, as the business continued to grow this became less and less practicable. He believed most emphatically in mixing business and religion—in conducting business on Christian principles; or to adopt a modern phrase, doing business “as Jesus would do it.” As might be expected, such a policy drew an immense clientage, for people far and wide believed in him. But how few, comparatively, in this busy world, go beyond the practice that honesty is the best policy! While A. 1. Root believed in this good rule he did not think it went far enough, and, accordingly, tried to adopt and live the Golden Rule.

The severe strain of long hours of work, together with constantly failing health, compelled Mr. Root to throw some of the responsibilities of the increasing business on his sons and sons-in-law. This was between 1886 and 1890. At no definite time could it be said that there was a formal transfer of the management of the supply business and the management of the bee department of Gleanings to his children; but as time went on they gradually assumed the control, leaving him free to engage in gardening and other rural pursuits, and for the last ten years he has given almost no attention to bees, devoting nearly all his time to travel and to lighter rural Industries. He has written much on horticultural and agricultural subjects; indeed, it is probable that he has done more writing on these subjects than he ever did on bees.

Note: He did not invent a section box for holding honey, but only a box just the right size to put 8 into a Langstroth frame.

For the last twenty-five years he has been writing a series of lay sermons, touching particularly on the subject of mixing business and religion, work and wages, and, in general, the great problem of capital and labor. As an employer of labor he had here a large field for observation, and well has he made use of it. Perhaps no series of articles he ever wrote has elicited a more sympathetic response from his friends all over this wide world than these same talks; and through these he has been the means of bringing many a one into the fold of Christ.

It has been a rather difficult matter to get a picture that was in any way satisfactory to the members of his family. Finally the writer, one day, with a Kodak, took a “time view” of him in his favorite place of resort, the greenhouse, among his “posies,” where he spends hours of his happiest moments. This view shows him just as he appears around home in his everyday work clothes. Ill health, or a sort of malaria that has been hanging about him for years, has forced him. during winter, to wear a fur cap and to keep his overcoat constantly on, indoors and outdoors, with the collar turned up.

Mr. Root, ever since his conversion, in 1875 has been a most active working Christian. No matter what the condition of his health, he is a regular attendant at church and prayer-meeting. He takes great interest in all lines of missionary work, and especially in the subject of temperance. He annually gives considerable sums of money to support the cause of missions, and to the Ohio Antisaloon League; and now that the heavier responsibilities of the business have been lifted from his shoulders he is giving more and more of his time and attention to sociological problems.—E. R. Root.Source:
The ABC of Bee Culture, page 438, 1903

Online Books by A.I. Root:

Root, A. I. (Amos Ives), 1839-1923: The ABC of Bee Culture: A Cyclopaedia of Everything Pertaining to the Care of the Honey-Bee: Bees, Honey, Hives, Implements, Honey-Plants, etc.; Facts Gleaned From the Experiences of Thousands of Bee Keepers All Over Our Land, Afterward Verified by Practice Work in Our Own Apiary (100th thousand; Medina, OH: A. I. Root Co., 1905)

More at: The Online Books Page – A.I. Root

The Gentle Beekeeper of Rushcreek Twp., Bremen, Ohio

An interesting article on beekeeping in an earlier era. Especially a Mr. Abraham Graffis II, beekeeper of Rushcreek Twp.

Diary of a Rural Ohio Nomad

If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, this sepia portrait could easily provide enough material to compose a thesis on the craft of beekeeping circa 1880.  Represented within this tangible reminder of the not so distant past, are perhaps three generations of a rural family, standing as if at attention, beneath a canopy of shaded woods, awaiting the flash of an antiquated camera. It’s subjects lack the formal conventions of the Victorian they chose to be depicted in practical attire in lieu of their Sunday best, they appear natural and not stiffly posed before an elaborate backdrop or within a tastefully decorated parlor, but in a natural setting. This historical photo not only has the ability to transport us into a nineteenth century apiary, but it reflects the value that the family placed on beekeeping and their farm. Given the price of a photographer, we can surmise…

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Advice for New-Bees by Newbees


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NewBees: Beginning Beekeeping

ere varroa_mites Varroa: your new nightmare…

I have been keeping bees now for seven years. In spite of taking courses, reading every book I could, keeping my eyes and ears open, and earning my Master Beekeeper designation, I have made every mistake I could.

Sometimes twice.

And I know more are out there waiting for me to make. Such is beekeeping!

We all have to do things in our own way and in our own time, but for what it is worth, here is what I wish I had known in my first year…

  1. It is easy to keep bees, but difficult to keep them well. For the first year or two, you will open that hive, probably with pounding heart and sweaty palms…and not have a clue what you are seeing. That is normal! Just ask a more experienced beekeeper to come look at your hive(s) with you and…

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Current Beekeeping Activities


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Feeding the bees pollen substitute

This time of year can be as busy for the beekeeper as the spring nectar flow period. But now it’s all about preparation. My experience, since beginning this beekeeping journey, is that there is never enough time during the nectar flow. In fact, time becomes precious even before the nectar flow with the need to rotate hive bodies or employ other swarm reducing measures, placement of swarm traps, movement of hives to out yards, making splits, and lots of last minute surprises.

So, here are few pictures of what I occupy myself with during this so called off season:


Order queen pen and my favorite markers to write on the hives.


Making sugar cakes for the tops of the hives.


Adding extra wax to plastic frames.


Collecting and bagging pine straw for my smoker.



Building boxes, bottom boards, and tops.


Adding some color to the entrance reducers.


Painting entrances to the queen mating nucs


This is Advantech – a new material that resists weathering.


Painting everything. Three coats!


Joy! I found three 50 pound sacks of sugar I had forgotten!


Hive Stands


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This time of year beekeepers perform maintenance and build more toys. Here’s a link detailing how to build a nice, portable, sturdy hive stand for under ten dollars: Bee Hive Stand for Cheap!

Varroa Mite Treatments


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I’m out in the bee yard vaporizing oxalic within the hives to kill Varroa mites today. Oxalic Acid is harsh on humans and I think it probably isn’t exactly kind to honey bees either although they seem to live on the acid side of the ph scale. I’m reminded though, as I vaporize the oxalic acid within each hive, of a time my son Danny had a nasty wart on his foot. We had tried everything, night after night, to remove it. Finally Danny agreed to go to a podiatrist . He thought it was going to be cut off and he was good with that. Instead the doctor applied a strong acid for a couple hours. Over the course of the next week or so it was basically blistered and burned in appearance. We felt badly for Danny but he was okay with it. He wanted it off. Anyway, applying oxalic acid to the bees kind of reminds me of the same. I hope they appreciate the mite removal.

Bee Book Season by Ron Miksha


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It’s holiday season. And if you’re normal, you’re thinking about beekeeping books for everyone you know. Even the non-beekeeps. I spent a few minutes today scanning the site to see what was bee hot. Not that the best sellers are always the best books. (My own book fell from the best seller ranks back in 2008, but I think Bad Beekeeping is still an OK gift for your friends.)  But there are some good ideas to get you started.

Read entire article here with booklist for winter reading: Bee Book Season — Bad Beekeeping Blog

Overwintering Nuclei Colonies by Larry Connor


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Some northern beekeepers have success overwintering nuclei-sized colonies. This may be based on a particular stock or genetic trait, and should be tested carefully. More beekeepers are able to overwinter a single, deep hive body by packing the hive out with honey or sugar syrup in the Fall. In addition to food reserves, make sure such colonies are protected from the harsh winds of Winter.

Read the complete article here: Overwintering Nuclei Colonies — BEEKeeping: Your First Three Years

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter H by snapshotsincursive


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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Honeycomb Sweet Bee! Raw honeycomb has the most incredible flavor concentrated with the sweet nectar of wildflowers. The first time I tasted it, with a crisp apple slice and a nibble of sharp cheese, I realized what all the buzz was about. This edible mystery is a conversation-starter at every gathering. And a little goes a long way. Store honeycomb at room temperature in a covered container.

Raw Honeycomb Square

Granny Smith apples

Cheddar Cheese, Extra Sharp*

Seedless Grapes

Smoked Almonds, whole with sea salt

Multi-Grain Crackers

Read more here:  Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter H — snapshotsincursive

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for the month of December


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As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of December:


Hive checks this month are tied directly to outside temperatures. Do not disturb the brood chamber or break propolis seals around boxes unless absolutely necessary. On a warm day in the 60’s you may remove the inner cover briefly and view down between the frames. Try to not be too disruptive in order to allow them to get their house (brood box) in order for winter. Use of a stethoscope or an ear against the side of the hive will often tell you all is well inside.

1) Clean, paint, repair equipment, assemble new equipment, build more hive stands, make some of those time saver gadgets, and replace any bad equipment.

2) If you use a telescoping cover, lift the cover and note for wetness or mold indicating excess moisture within the hive. As needed, ventilate hives with a 1/8th inch crack at the front of the inner cover to prevent condensation and mold. Also, tilting the entire hive forward slightly with a shim placed under the hive, in the back, will allow condensation to run forward and down the front of the inside of the hive preventing it from dripping on the bees’ cluster.

3) December is an excellent month for selling honey.

4) Continue to assess stores, feed using a candy board or fondant as necessary. Continue to lift the back of your hives to check for weight. Now is why you learned this method of assessing stores.

5) Order packages, nucleus hives, or queens for delivery mid to late March or as early as possible for your area.

6) Review and evaluate how well your bee colonies performed this year and if necessary make decisions on how to improve your operation particularly regarding disease management and pest control such as Varroa mites, small hive beetles, and wax moths. Document your findings in your beekeeping journal.

7) Plan now for changes you’re going to impliment next season.

8) Call, visit, or write farmers or landowners where you’d like to place hives for out yards next spring.

9) Renew you membership in your local Beekeepers Association. Attend local meetings. Register for state Spring beekeeper’s conference.

10) Scout trees for placement and prepare swarms traps. Construct a swarm capture bucket.

11) Build a nucleus hive now to keep in your car or truck for community swarm captures next spring. Register with on-line swarm call lists.

12) Order or ask Santa for a copy of that beekeeping book you’ve been wanting to read. Read some every day. Until then, here’s a free .pdf copy of Advanced Bee Culture by William Z. Hutchinson.

14) If, for some reason you have not yet treated for Varroa, this time of year presents the Midlands with as close to a broodless period as we get. A cheap, economical, quick and easy, method of Varroa treatment during this broodless period is the oxalic acid dribble. Read about how it’s performed here: Once a Year Opportunity to Save on Varroa Treatment


15) Celebrate Lorenzo Langstroth’s birthday on December 25.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Kick ’em when they’re down by The Apiarist


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Below is an excellent article by David the Apiarist on understanding the varroa mite population cycle as relates to management of Varroa mites. Understanding the pest is key to maximizing the impact of the treatement. I’ve chosen to crosspost it on this date to benefit my readers in the Midlands of South Carolina as we enter the period of time when the presence of brood is at it’s yearly low. References to the Eagles and Don Henley are entertaining as well.

Why bother treating colonies in midwinter to reduce Varroa infestation? After all, you probably treated them with Apiguard or Apivar (or possibly even Apistan) in late summer or early autumn.

Is there any need to treat again in midwinter?

Yes. To cut a long story short, there are basically two reasons why a midwinter mite treatment almost always makes sense:

  1. Mites will be present. In addition, they’ll be present at a level higher than the minimum level achievable, particularly if you last treated your colonies in late summer, rather than early autumn.
  2. The majority of mites will be phoretic, rather than hiding away in sealed brood. They’re therefore easy to target.

I’ll deal with these in reverse order …

Read the full article at: Kick ’em when they’re down — The Apiarist

Today we celebrate



IMAG0207The other day I received an automated congratulations from WordPress.  It was the anniversary of this blog.  A little over a year ago this blog was created with the goal of capturing one complete year of beekeeping – trying to follow the seasons with corresponding articles, pictures, and posts – some original and many shared. My thanks to all of the contributors who allowed me to re-blog their articles along the way.

Where are we going from here? I’ll add more original blog posts and refine some of the current posts to be more informative to visitors. I’d like to add more very short snapshots of my daily interactions and beekeeping preparations. I’ll add more links within the posts for visitors to link to more information. I also hope to add more introductory comments to posts contributed by others. Posts from the past twelve months will be recycled into the current year to continue to provide an ongoing calendar-like diary of the beekeeping year with the improvements mentioned above.

Also in the plans I will be replacing Beekeeping Vocabulary on Sunday’s with Book of the Week. Our Saturday morning recipe post(s) will continue as it has become a favorite of many people and receives a good number of hits each week. Beekeeping Birthdays will also continue as I add more famous beekeepers. Those that wrote non-copyrighted books, pamphlets, and other written works will list links as I am able to find.

I hope you have enjoyed the ride this past year. I have, and in the process learned a great deal from you as well. Thanks!

No Straight Lines in Beekeeping



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No Straight Lines in Beekeeping

My first year I had one hive. The following spring, in March, it swarmed twice, two weeks apart, and left me with nothing for all my hard work getting them through the previous summer, fall, and winter.

But, having been hooked with the fascination of that first hive, I had already purchased 6 packages and had spent that first winter building boxes, frames, bottoms, and tops. I had lost that first hive earlier in the month but I now had 6 fresh starts. That spring, in the first weeks, I spent a couple tanks of gas driving around collecting swarms, some failed and some succeeded. By the end of summer I had 13 hives. In autumn I lost a couple to their being weak but I learned a few things and combined a few more to strengthen them and went into winter with 7 hives.

By the next spring I had lost 4 of those 7 colonies because I failed to adequately ventilate and reduce moisture during the winter. In fact, I had promoted moisture by wrapping the hives “for their protection.” The learning curve can be brutal in beekeeping. By this time I had spent some time over winter reading about splits so I split those 3 remaining hives (remember I’d had 13 the previous year) and had about 8 hives at the start of the flow, Again on the swarm trail, I added another half dozen colonies and did some more fall splits. I actually made honey and sold a bit and closed the season with 18 hives.

That winter took less of a bite out of my bee yard and as I recall I lost about 5 hives and came out with 13 in the spring. Hey, maybe I’d learned something! Up to 21 that season and made honey again. Always spending the money on more boxes, frames, wax, lumber. Learning the dangers associated with mites, moisture, weak colonies, hive beetles. Learning the seasons from my mentors and when to do this or that. Like a dedicated AA member, never missing a meeting because Frank, Danny, Wes, Staci, Dave, Todd, Patrick, William, a visiting speaker, or someone would be there to tell me what I needed to be seeing in the hive and what I needed to be doing over the coming month. I am an information addict and those folks repeatedly told me what I sometimes resisted.

By the next winter I had a couple notebooks worth of meetings’ notes. Also, I had attended the beginning beekeeper class not once but twice – only a bee nerd would do such a thing. I actually sat down and wrote January, February, March… on blank pages and copied three years of monthly meeting notes on each month’s respected page. Not surprising, year to year the information was very similar but I had some gaps in my notes and combining the notebooks helped me learn a few things. By then I had also attended a few conferences; I added to my notebook and beekeeping calendar.

The winter I signed up to be the local club Secretary I lost less than 10%. I learned a great deal from visiting the bee yards of many of our members. I continued attending conferences, meetings, hearing it over and over; sometimes it took multiple times before I relented and relinquished some of my bad ideas. In the spring I decided to save gas money and stop chasing swarms. It had become easier to make splits. I still caught one or two to get it out of my system but my problem became one of more colonies than I had boxes. And still my own bees swarmed. By this time I had kind of stabilized at 20 hives and fluxed up or down a few at any given time.

The next year, again less than 10% failure rate over the winter. I think primarily because I had become convinced the previous year that treating for Varroa actually produces positive results, as does feeding them when needed, and strengthing colonies with combines in the early fall. I had bought only queens for two years, no packages or nucs, and increases were made when the bees cooperate in the spring. I was starting to think like a bee.

Last year I lost 20% which I fully blame on my failure to combine weaker hives in the Fall as is standard. I failed to make the few combines I should have because I’m a hard head so I lost a few. Several of these were nucleus hives which, had they been combined, would have overwintered. Another lesson I had to learn twice.

And here we are again going into winter. But I grew to 50 this year and then decided to generously combine weaker hives after the nectar flow. I also chose to not make splits immediately after the nectar flow which is standard practice if one wishes to grow their apiary (also called making increase). I hope to come out with a good survival rate in the spring of 2018. For Spring 2018 I’m posed to start the queen rearing adventure and be closer to a true sustainable bee yard.

But to get to the point here. It’s all flux; ups and downs.

Sustainable is possible but straight lines aren’t. I wrote an article some time back for our local club’s newsletter speaking to flexibility in beekeeping. It was based on a lecture one of our senior beekeepers gave at a meeting a couple years earlier. That lecture changed the way I view beekeeping by helping me see the big picture a little clearer. Roll with the punches, think like a bee, work with them, follow their lead, always learn, be ready for change, capitalize on times of increase, brush yourself off and accept times of decrease, follow the bees’ nature and ride that wave whenever you can. And, oh yeah, enjoy the ride.

Here are the Blues Brothers demonstrating these principles. Roll with the punches, work with them – not against, follow their lead, accept change…