Both literally and figuratively. The bee are buzzing about as I work in the garden today; they are happy for this warm, sunny day. Glenn just checked on them, and the hives are not ready to be split yet, but the two hives that we had make it through the winter are healthy. We did have our largest loss of hives since we began beekeeping, I believe we lost six hives. Glenn conducted an experiment, and it did not correspond to his mite treatments. One hive that survived had not been treated and the other hive had been treated. However, I do believe the hive that he had not treated and survived was a hive that he split late in the season. It would be interesting to conduct various control groups and test out theories, maybe one day when we have more time.
For now, Glenn is actually happy to be scaled back on his number of hives to manage. He has two strong ones and plans to split those to a total of four when the time comes. Thus, we will not have the quantity of honey we have had for the past few years, but you can still count on our bees for the quality of their honey.
I will send an email out to our local honey customers when the bees tell me its time! In the meantime, I’ve already started a list with excited customers who want to make sure they don’t miss out. Happy spring to you!
Please vote and support one of our Sandy Mush farms; the Frisbee family is working hard to prove that vineyards are a viable and profitable farming venture in western North Carolina. Profitable family farms, and farmland preservation is our goal!
Learn about this family’s farm story!
Encourage curiosity, especially in children. Ask the questions, engage with people, learn something new. Be curious!!
Less mowing, more pollinators…that is Glenn’s mantra. As much as he says that, you would think that he was the one who took care of our mowing and was coming up with a strategy to lighten that chore, but, nope, I am the one who mows the yard.
During our recent travels, he did enjoy pointing out examples of his “no mow” philosophy. The Bee and Butterfly Garden in Portland, Maine was a great example of both a beautiful and useful habitat. We also paid attention to how states were choosing to maintain their roadsides. The case has been made that roadsides could provide a valuable pollinator habitat. This article from Xerces Society makes the case in Pollinator Conservation at 60 MPH. Then, if you are so inspired, the Xerces Society has even created a good sample letter to send your state representative and/or your state DOT to let them know you are supportive of these roadside efforts.
There is also value in re-envisioning our yards: meadow gardens, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens…there are many options to consider beyond the traditional mown lawn. When we lived in the city, my goal had been to eventually get the mown lawn area down to size that was manageable with only a human powered lawn mower. Now that is an interesting google search: human powered lawn mower. Have fun with that!
When we moved to the farm, however, our mown lawn size increased to the point of needing a riding lawn mower. Yes, we thought about goats, and then thought better! There may be a meadow garden in the future for our lawn, but for now, I will at least mow on the high setting as to leave the clover blooms for the bees to enjoy.
One of the books I am currently reading is The Pine Island Paradox by Kathleen Dean Moore. I just read her thoughts on gratitude. They are worth sharing.
Gratitude is a kind of seeing, an awareness of the magnitude of the gift of this earth. To see the world gratefully is to be endlessly surprised by the bare fact of it, its beauty and power and everlastingness. Gratitude is attentiveness. It’s easy to move through the world and never notice how a shifting wind changes the air from salt to cedar, easy to overlook the invisible moon that moves the tides. To be grateful is to stand with stinging eyes and reddening nose in the northwest wind, taking it in – really this, taking it in – the expanse of dunes and dusk and each blade of beach grass drawing a circle on the sand.
March 2017 Bee Branch Farm Bee Yard
The honey bees look healthy, and Glenn is splitting the hives today. I was going take a few up close action photos for you, but apparently I walked right in the bee flight path, which is especially an unwise thing to do if you have my hair. Buzzing ensues, I begin to run, never escaping because some are entangled in my hair. Shaking my hair, I try to release them from their tangled trap. My first honey bee sting, that I recall since we first started keeping bees, sharp on my scalp. Still more continue to struggle to escape. I enter the house in search of comb or brush, Tillie is prancing with anticipation and excitement, back outside I gently comb the honey bees from their tangled trap. They fly to freedom save the lone bee, who upon sting is no more and falls to the ground. Glenn, whose purposeful focus never leaves his task, completely unaware of this side show.
A quote to reflect upon for International Women’s Day, and everyday:
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them,” the Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told a Harvard graduating class in 2011. “If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.”
And with the words of one of my favorite children’s books, Child of Faerie, Child of Earth by Jane Yolen:
Be bold, be brave, be unafraid,
I agree with the interviewee who I heard on NPR yesterday that it is important to be able to enjoy the lively and open discussion of politics with your guests. I actually believe we need to have more open and respectful discussions outside our homes as well, but I will save this topic for a future post because today I am sharing my gratitude for a meal enjoyed with friends. Good food and lively conversation is definitely one of my favorite ways to enjoy an evening, and thanks to Susan’s new cookbook, I finally ventured back into the kitchen.
We sampled three of Susan’s savory bites with the Blue Cheese and walnuts with a dollup of Bee Branch Farm honey, of course, being our favorite. This is very simple to prepare and to have all the ingredients on hand for when guests drop in for a visit, which is one of the aspects I appreciate about Susan’s recipes, they are not overly complicated and most of the ingredients are readily available. Entertaining should be fun; keep it simple and relaxing. It is not about impressing people; it is about having a lovely time with friends.
My mouth is actually already watering for the main course of Beef Bourguignon, again. Before you jump to correct my English/French combination name of this dish, you will just have to get the cookbook and learn the rest of the story. This was my first time making this french classic, and Susan has simplified and adapted the recipe to easily available ingredients and modern cooking styles. Absolutely delicious!! Well done Susan; I am going to add this to my favorite recipe repertoire. I served it with peas and a crusty seeded sourdough bread to soak up that tasty gravy.
We finished off with an apple and pear bread pudding, which was a slight adjustment on Susan’s Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Susan’s recipe called for a pumpkin butter, but I had a jar of my mom’s apple butter, and my mom makes the best apple butter. This recipe can be served for breakfast or dessert, and Glenn and I just enjoyed it for both!
There is no pretension in Susan’s cookbook, just as there is no pretension in Susan. It is absolutely delightful. Enjoy.