Monday, March 4, 2013

What Beekeepers Do For Fun

-posted by Jayne

This past weekend we had the privilege to travel to Wooster, Ohio, for the Tri-County Beekeeper's Association's Beekeeping Workshop.  I believe it is the largest beekeeping workshop in the state, and having gone for the past 4 years, I would say it never fails to impress.  This year, we were asked to speak on Friday night on the topic "Beyond The Hive" - basically everything we do with our business that is not simply "keeping bees."  We attempted to cover beeswax rendering and candle making, pollen gathering, pollination, making value-added honey (infused, granulated, seasonal), marketing your products, and even honey house construction - all in one hour.  It was fun to be able to present what we've done with our little business.  The best thing about this workshop is that it gives us a lot of great ideas of new projects, cutting edge beekeeping practices, and allows us to network with other beekeepers around the state.  We've made a lot of great contacts and beekeeping friends over the past few years.  
Speaking of "cutting edge" - have you seen these pastel
colored beekeeping suits?  In case you want to "dress to impress"
when you're out in the apiary.
Isaac didn't realize it when we planned the weekend, but he actually ended up speaking at two separate sessions.  He attended a session that was to cover Pollination, and unfortunately, the speaker did not show up.  Ten minutes after the session was scheduled to start, the coordinator of the event came to Isaac and asked if he would mind filling in. Being the amiable person that he is, he obliged.  I wasn't there to hear it, as I was attending a session about making beeswax salves and balms, but from what I hear he did a great job.  

Jennifer Berry was the keynote speaker, discussing "Practical Natural Beekeeping."
Over 1,000 people attend this conference.
After sitting in on the "Making Salves and Lotions" session, I was inspired to go out and buy myself a couple of propolis traps.  Making a propolis salve has been on my to-do list for at least a year, but our propolis trap was lost somewhere in our barn.  So I splurged and bought myself two.  I can still lose one, and hopefully be able to collect propolis.  
A propolis trap - my "splurge" for the weekend.

The way it works is you put it on the top of your hive, allowing a little crack to let the light in.  Bees will fill any little crack with propolis, which is actually resins collected from trees and plants.  The bees use it to seal out unwanted spaces in the hive, as it aids in prohibiting bacterial growth.  The propolis trap makes it possible to collect propolis in a more usable form, rather than the dirty scrapings of propolis that come from the sides and tops of the wooden boxes.  When the trap is filled - simply freeze it, and then break the brittle pieces out.  The propolis can then be added to tinctures, used in soap making, or infused in oils for balms and salves.  I can't wait to try it out.

After the beekeeping conference, we visited with my parents in Holmes County, and I found out about the newest little secret in Ohio's local food scene.  There's a new creamery in Charm, and they have a self-serve milk farmstand.  Non-homogenized, minimally pasteurized, grass-fed milk for $4.00 a gallon!  They are called "Covered Bridge Creamery" - hence the covered bridge across the road from the farm.  They are located near Guggisberg Cheese - I don't have an actual address but if you'd like to go just email me and I'll get you the details.  
The bridge at Covered Bridge Creamery in Charm, Ohio
 They have a simple room next to the barn where the cows are milked - no signs or anything- so I believe it is set-up for friends and neighbors rather than tourists.  Inside the room is a refrigerator filled with gallons, half gallons, and pints of whole milk as well as flavored milk.

Just put your money in the coffee can.  I love it!
Since it is not homogenized you have to shake it up before you drink it.  Tonight at dinner, Maizy was drinking from a cup we had put back in the fridge a few hours earlier, and a good amount of cream rose to the top.  When I gave her the cup at dinner time, she took one sip, looked at me in confusion, and exclaimed, "There's a piece of butter in my milk!"

And I know I'm not supposed to snap photos of the Amish, but I couldn't resist a pic of these cuties as we were leaving the farm.  Growing up in Amish country, I always thought being Amish would be the worst thing in the world.  No cars, no electric, no TV.  
Now I think it sounds pretty wonderful.

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