Friday, September 21, 2012

Not Just Another Color in the Crayola Box.

-posted by Jayne
My first recollection of the word "goldenrod" was describing a crayon.  It was always just another muted yellow in the crayon box.  Kind of a dull mustard color.  It wasn't until much later that I realized, the crayon color is describing a flower.  
So I dug out our crayon box and took a look.  Yep.. it's still there.  Still the same color.  But I'm not sure the color accurately depicts the actual flower.  The color changes as the season progresses.  It starts off as a dark greenish-yellow, then ripens to a vibrant bright yellow (seen below in the bright mid-day sun).
As the flower matures, it becomes the deep yellow color you see below, more like the actual color of the crayon.  Depending on the time of day, and how the sun is hitting it, the color of the flower can change drastically.  
This week we took the kids out for an evening hike, for the sole purpose of checking out the goldenrod.  I wanted to see what kind of pictures I could get as the sun was setting.
 I didn't do anything to these photos... no adjusting for color or anything.  This is what goldenrod really looks like when the sun is setting over the horizon, lighting up the flowers in such a beautiful way!

 The tiny white flowers you see interspersed with the goldenrod below are asters.  These are the next big nectar source for the bees.  They are just beginning to open.  Perfect timing.  Fall honey, primarily from goldenrod and asters, is deeply robust, with tones of butterscotch and mint.  I have been eating more Fall honey than anything else this year.  It has really grown on me!
As we approached the bee yard surrounded by this field of goldenrod... the smell was there.  While the bees are ripening the goldenrod nectar, it has a distinctly strong smell.  Some people think it smells like dirty laundry.  But I commented to Isaac... I don't really smell that anymore.  To me, it just smells like Fall honey.  And it smells pretty good.    Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Good Week

-Posted by Isaac

The Lithopolis Honeyfest was a resounding success for all involved. We began setting up in the rain and wind, gave up, took a long coffee break, and finished about 10:30 when the skies cleared and the crowd slowly trickled in. I snapped a couple photos before the tidal wave of honey lovers barreled in around noon.

Jayne was the mastermind behind this four-sided display

This year we had our new iphones which enabled us to swipe charge cards. Very handy... except for the few honey stick purchases for $1.00 that people wanted to charge... that was a bit tedious.

The next day we rewarded ourselves with trip to Cincinnati. Mason, Grandpa and I caught a Reds game and found a few flying pigs to climb on.

The goldenrod is in full bloom and the bees are working hard on these gorgeous sunny days. Soon the bee yards will smell like dirty laundry as the bees dry down the nectar.  (Goldenrod is notorious for smelling like dirty laundry when it is in the hives.)

Maizy and I took a pollen run yesterday and discovered that the farmers are already in full swing with the corn. What an early year!

The goldenrod pollen is a bright orange and has a sweeter taste then the yellow ragweed pollen we've collected recently.  
Maizy had the obligatory pollen snack.

Maizy chose to wear her "cowboy-girl boots" for the pollen run.

And of course a bouquet for Mommy was in order.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Honeyfest Prep / Fall Prep

-Posted by Isaac

We've been bottling like crazy this last week for the Honeyfest. If you're coming out to Lithopolis this Saturday, we'll see you there. Hopefully it's not a wash-out. Most years, the rain seems to threaten but never quite materializes. If it does rain... oh well... just hang out under our tent. We're bringing two this year. 
We'll have all the usual available: 
Spring, Summer, Fall Honey, Lavender and Lemon Verbena infused, Naturally Granulated, Comb Honey, Chunk Honey, Bee Pollen, Handcrafted Soap...

Plus something special:
Introducing Tulip Poplar honey...

This is honey that came from a few bee yards south of here near the Hocking Hills where tulip poplar trees abound. When I extracted the supers coming out of those yards (early July), I was surprised to see the honey was black and tasted completely different. A dark smokey flavor that lingers heavy on the palate.  I separated these buckets of honey from the rest, and we've been waiting on labels so we could sell  it as another varietal honey. Well, they came in a couple weeks ago, and what better place to introduce it then the Honeyfest!
We live in a wonderful area of the state. You can have such completely different honeys produced just twenty or thirty miles apart.

In other news...
Between the morning and evening bottling sessions, I've been working on Fall prep for the hives. That involves taking a yard that looks like this:

And making it look this this:

Basically I'm taking supers off, getting the hives ready to collect goldenrod and aster honey with a single box on top. The goldenrod flow just isn't big enough to pile supers on as we did with the summer honey. Some of the weaker hives will need every bit of it just to get beefed up for winter.
Between removing boxes, I check the brood pattern, put Hop Guard mite strips in, feed the weaker hives (sugar water and Honey-B-Healthy) and one other thing-- drench the bees with this stuff called Nozevit.

Jim North (our spry 76 year old neighboring beekeeper) says he's seen real improvement health-wise with his bees. When it comes to knowing bees, I trust Jim's judgement more then anyone. Nozevit is a natural plant polyphenol food supplement. It's supposed to improve the bees' intestinal track and help with digestion.  We'll give it a try this year.

The goldenrod has just started to turn yellow and the bees will soon be busy again after several weeks of nothing to do. What an awesome time of year this is! Warm, sunny and colorful. We've had some recent rain (thanks to my own hurricane) so maybe that will increase the nectar flow from these beautiful Fall flowers.
Here's hoping.
See you at the Honeyfest!