Friday, November 30, 2012

More questions answered: Creamed Honey and Honey Sticks

-Posted by Jayne

Our give-a-way last week has provided a lot of great ideas for blog posts.  We've decided to answer a few questions here and there, rather than writing a book in one long blog post.  Here are a few more of the "easy" ones that I can answer.  I'm going to leave the more technical beekeeping questions for Isaac.

Ianna writes, "I've tried and loved all sorts of liquid honey, but only just recently just tried (aka devoured) some opaque, buttery honey. It wasn't crystallised, it was just buttery smooooth! How is that made? What's the difference (outside the obvious :) between that opaque buttery honey and liquid honey?"

Good question!  I believe what you are refering to is "Creamed Honey."  There is also a product called "Honey Butter" which is butter mixed with honey, but it sounds more like you had Creamed Honey.  This product is very similar to our "Naturally Granulated Honey," but very different in one regard.  Creamed honey is made by using a "seed" which is really just another creamed honey that has a specific type of smooth granulation.  All honey will granulate, but depending on the type of honey (what nectar it is from), it has different sizes of granules.  Here you see some lighter early Summer honey with a pretty fine granulation:
 And here you see some late Summer honey that has not quite granulated completely.  It is still a bit more runny and smooth.  We have sold both as "Naturally Granulated Honey," since we don't do anything to it... just let the honey sit and get more creamy and solid.  BUT.. if we were to make creamed honey, we would start with about a pound of the "seed" honey, and add it to about 12 lbs. of liquid honey, and mix it in our Kitchenaid Mixer for about 5 minutes.  Then, you put it in your jars and store it at a temp of about 56 degrees for a week or so.  Wah-la!  Creamed honey!  If you wanted to try this yourself, you can google "How to make creamed honey" and come up with similar recipes.
Come to think of it... that would make a wonderful Christmas present!  Buy a large jug of honey, a pound of creamed honey, and you can make your friends and family a wonderful "homemade" gift!

And one more question for today.  
Jen asks, "Is it easy to make honey sticks?"

It would be fun to tell you we use a little dropper to
get the honey in the stick... but I don't think it would be
very believeable!
Actually, yes it is!  For us, at least....
We don't actually put the honey into the little stick ourselves.  This requires a machine that costs about $18,000 dollars (or so we've heard).  We have found a company that allows us to send them our honey, and they put it in the little sticks for us (for a fee, of course).  We know other beekeepers who just buy the sticks from the company and re-sell them, but we are really proud to have our own honey in the sticks, so we actually feel it is worth it to send our honey to them so we can have our own Honeyrun Farm honey sticks.  So aside from lifting a 60 lb. bucket onto the counter at the post office, the task is really pretty easy.  Who am I kidding, I always make our post master Ron lift the bucket for me.  Thanks Ron.  

If you'd like to come see us this weekend, we are selling at the Worthington Winter Market on Saturday from 10-1, and at the North Market Holiday Show from 8-5 on Saturday and from 12-5 on Sunday.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

And the winner is.... (drumroll, please)

#1 !!  Julie Scordato, please step up and claim your prize!!!

Using the True Random Number Generator at, response #1 was chosen as the winner to our $25.00 gift certificate, with free shipping!  Julie, it is time to peruse our shop and decide what you would like.  (And really... does #1 EVER win??)  Feel free to post your acceptance speech in the comments section, Julie.  Just don't rub it in to the losers too bad.

Now we have some insightful questions to answer from our blog readers.  Here are just a few quick answers to a few:

65 Roses for Marcia asked:  "Can you bring some honey for me if you are coming for thanksgiving? And what is your very favorite kind of honey out of all the types you produce??"

Our Answer:  Our honey is now for sale in 2 locations in Holmes County, Marcia!  Country Craft Cupboard- in Berlin, and the Walnut Creek Flea Market (this is the one located near Cherry Ridge, towards Sugarcreek).  Our favorite kind of honey is Spring honey, due to it's light delicate nature, however we use Summer Honey more often in cooking.  We actually have a 2 lb. jar of Spring, Summer, and Fall on our kitchen table at all times.  

Spring honey is our favorite... because it is light and delicate,
but also because it is rare.  We hate to see it sell out!
And Cappywanna asks:  "I have seen whole pieces of honeycomb sold at farmers markets and such- what would you do with a whole comb? just shove it in your mouth and chew? mmm..."
Comb can be chewed, spread on toast, spooned into tea, eaten with cheese,
peanut butter and honey sandwiches... the possibilities are endless!

Yes, indeed... shove it in your mouth and chew!  You can even eat the wax, although many prefer to chew the comb until the honey is gone, then spit out the wax.  Old-timers say that comb honey was the first chewing gum.  It was a treat for kids (and still is today), and also great for spreading on toast.  Some people prefer comb because it guarantees that the honey is raw.  If it was heated, the comb would melt!  

Thanks again for all the great questions!  We will answer more in upcoming posts!

-posted by Jayne

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Great Honey Give-a-Way!

***This contest has ended.  Thanks for all who participated!***

We're giving away a $25.00 gift certificate to our online store at!  Enough of us blabbing on and on about beekeeping and our children and such.  You really follow this blog on the off chance that you might win something free eventually, right?

Well, here's the deal.  Leave a comment below asking us a question.  It can be any question, but preferably something insightful and intriguing that you always wondered about beekeeping or beekeepers or bees.  Some examples could be:

-How on earth did you get into this?
-What is a varroa mite?
-Why are honey storage boxes called 'supers'?
-Why can't babies eat honey under the age of 1?
-Why does honey granulate?
-Why are most bee boxes white?

See how many good questions I came up with in just a few seconds?

If you don't have any good ideas, you can ask boring, lazy questions like:
-What color are your socks?
-Why doesn't Isaac wash his bee suit more often?
-Do you ever get stung by a bee?
You get the idea.  Any question will do.  We'll try to answer the good ones in upcoming blog posts.

We will choose the winner via a random number generator.  Contest ends on Cyber Monday, November 26th at 8 pm EST.  We will post the winner here, and notify them by email, so if you choose to post anonymously you will need to leave an email address in the comments section as well.  Contest is open to anyone in the United States, even family members, close friends, and those we bribe to visit and read our blog.  (Sorry, no international contestants, please... due to shipping limitations). Good luck!

And here is a sampling of what a $25.00 gift card could get you: (we pay the shipping, by the way)

5 lb jug of Summer Honey (yes, just $25!)

25 of these bad boys...  

6 bars of soap (okay so @4.50 each we know that's 27.00,
but we'll give you the $2 difference).

100 Lavender Infused Honeysticks
Thanks for stopping by!  Now let's see some insightful questions.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

We Need Closet Space!

-Posted by Isaac

Dan Grant was at one time the biggest beekeeper in the state. 2000 hives, pollinating everything from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, winters in Georgia, summers in Wisconsin some years, honey production by the semi load. He lives in Circleville and has since settled down to an easy couple hundred hives. He must feel like he has a lot of time on his hands because he likes to come out and talk.
Dan talks a lot.
As he talks, I've learned to keep working at whatever I'm doing and keep an ear out for Dan's precious nuggets of wisdom. Sometimes it's hard to sift through all the B.S.  Sometimes that's all there is.
This time he caught me out working on the latest project:
 And something he said rang true: "If you have some land and you happen to keep bees, you might as well put down four posts on the corners and build a roof over the whole damn thing. Even then, you'll have to buy land and add on."
Beekeeping requires equipment (sometimes called junk) and lots of space to put it. I've got the big barn jammed full of honey supers, the honey house full of honey. The extracting equipment, bottling supplies, packing materials, wax, oils, tanks, melters, trucks and trailers have to find a place somewhere.
This winter involves building on. This addition to the big barn got done this week, and a big annex to the honey house is coming soon.

 As always, we find a way to do it cheap. These are windows and doors from Grandmother Barnes' house that burned down ten years ago. The metal came from some big barn doors that got ripped off in a wind storm three years ago. All but $50 of lumber was salvaged from old barn wood.
Thing is, I'm already regretting not putting in a big overhead door. I guess I'm too cheap.
Now we can buy bulk and get that elusive reduced rate with our bottling supplies.

What child labor laws?
 The week stayed sunny and slowly warmed. By Friday the temp had hit 50 degrees and the bees rejoiced with a few hours of flight.
Mason welcomed these bees by throwing acorns at them.

By Saturday it had hit a balmy 54 degrees and we were able to sneak in our second unexpected November market. The pre-Thanksgiving crowd didn't disappoint.  I saw many North Market regulars who I won't see again for the next five months. I'll miss you! You guys can still stock up inside at the Greener Grocer.

I think my next post will be about the wax rendering process and what we do with it. From comb to cappings wax to candles.
Or to chewing gum... whatever suits your taste.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Mom... Can I Have a Bowl of Bee Pollen?"

-posted by Jayne

My daughter asked me this last week while we were eating a pretty typical lunch... peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, some carrots, and milk.  

"You want a bowl of bee pollen for lunch?"  I asked, kind of chuckling to myself about her nonchalance in asking this question.

"Mmm-hmm."  She responded.

"Okay..."  I said, as I filled a bowl with about 3 Tablespoons of pollen and handed it to her.

I went back to cleaning the counter and doing dishes, when Mason said, "Mom, I did not get a bowl of bee pollen for lunch."

"You want a bowl of pollen, too?"  I asked.
"Okay, one more bowl of bee pollen, coming right up."

I love it that our kids find this as completely normal.  I'm pretty sure there aren't many other 3 and 4 year olds eating bowls of pollen along with their sandwiches for lunch.  Somebody please tell me when this will backfire and they start calling us weird hippie beekeeper parents?

I have a lot of great blog post ideas running through my head, but for lack of time, I will give you one quick and easy craft project we tried this week.  Wax Dipped Leaves!  Did you know that dipping leaves in beeswax preserves their color, and creates beautiful garlands for your Thanksgiving decorations?  Of course they won't last forever, but they will last long enough for you to enjoy the colors of fall a bit longer.

You will need:

About 1 lb. beeswax
A variety of colorful leaves
A double boiler, with a container you plan to use only for melting beeswax
Wax or Candy Thermometer
A string and some thread, if you'd like to string your leaves.
Newspaper or an old sheet to cover your work area


1.  Melt your beeswax using a double boiler- a small saucepan containing the beeswax, sitting inside a larger pan of water. Melting beeswax over direct heat is very dangerous, as hot beeswax is flammable and can ignite. Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of your wax. Stainless steel is recommended since copper, brass, and iron can change the color of the wax, making it look dull.

2.  When the beeswax has reached 150-160 degrees and has completely melted, you are ready to begin dipping.  Quickly and steadily dip your leaves down and up out of the beeswax.  DO NOT hold the leaf in for a long period of time, or the wax will coat the leaf completely and you won't be able to see the color of the leaves through the yellow wax. 

3.  Allow the leaf to drip over the container for a few seconds before laying it aside to dry completely.

4.  When you have finished dipping all the leaves, string them together with a needle and thread and hang in a beautiful location.  That's it!

Make sure your kids wear old clothing and understand
the dangers of working with hot wax!

Another fun project I attempted was making floating beeswax candles out of acorn caps.  This worked really well, except the oak tree right outside our honey house has acorns with curly, ruffled edges, that just happen to be flammable.  Good thing they were floating in a bowl of water, right?  I am still looking for some large acorn caps that will not pose a fire hazard.  I used tea light wicks for these candles.  I do not plan to sell these, but if you wanted to buy some, I have seen them for sale in other shops on Etsy.  What a fun centerpiece for Thanksgiving!

Floating beeswax candles in acorn caps

I have a ton of other beeswax craft projects running through my mind right now.  As the weather gets colder I long for opportunities to engage my crafty side.  Can you believe it is November already??
Go out and collect some leaves for this project before they all blow away!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ok, All Good

-Posted by Isaac

Jayne said I sounded too depressed in that last post. I needed to be more upbeat. "Why don't you reread that and tell me what you think," she said.
 Of course that invoked the response you might expect from a beekeeper in November: "I'm just telling it like it is, Honey, ...and maybe that's just how I feel... and I think it was pretty well written, thank you..."

So upon rereading, I think she's right. 
The weather really isn't all that bad, and hearing more stories about the Hurricane Sandy aftermath on the east coast, my little rainy day problems seem pretty quaint. The sun came out, I got a few runs in, I feel much better. And it's not the end of everything. In fact, yesterday marked the beginning of the Worthington Winter Market, now up at the Worthington Mall.

Thank you to Jamie, market master and farmer with Wayward Seed for the prime real estate! We're in the center of everything, right on the corner. 
What a wonderful turnout it was. I saw many many new faces and quite a few of the core regulars. You left me feeling upbeat and enthusiastic and a part of something-- this whole localvore movement happening in Columbus. Thank you!
I got to spend three hours savoring the aromas of Silver Bridge Coffee right across the walkway, and Lucky Cat Bakery sent me home with an awesome loaf of sourdough rye. 

While I was having fun, Jayne was having her own fun, I suppose. She gave a marketing talk at the Ohio State Beekeepers Fall meeting in Reynoldsburg. Last year we both did this, but I can imagine it was better received with her alone. For one, she's better looking and well spoken. Plus she didn't have me there to interrupt and carry on with beekeeping blah blah blah that has nothing to do with marketing honey.