Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lesson 44: Be A Kind Beekeeper


Hi, we're David and Sheri Burns owners and operators of Long Lane Honey Bee Farms. And we look alittle bit like this caricature drawing that was done of us at our last honey show that we did in Danville, Illinois. Those aren't devil horns sticking out of our heads, they are little bee antennas.

You'll see a widget to the right of this article where you can click on the file for Tuesday and hear it.
Sheri and I work hard at being kind, polite and cordial beekeepers. We try very hard to treat our customers as friends and family. We believe we should treat others as we would want to be treated.
Having said that, I feel it is time to write a lesson of a different nature. We talk alot about wanting gentle bees, but every now and again beekeepers need that same expectation placed on them. We should be gentle too!
I received a phone call last week from a nice gentleman from another state who is wanting to get started keeping bees in the spring. He spoke with a man in his area, a commercial beekeeper to get some advice. But the man was pretty negative and felt alittle intimidated by "another beekeeper" who he perceived could be cutting in on his business or territory.
For the most part, the beekeeping community is matchless when it comes to kindred spirits gleaming with encouragement, camaraderie, and cordiality. Yet, like with every group there can be competition, strife, jealously and fear. And some beekeepers have to prove they are the smartest at the meeting. Beekeepers are a bit proud of the knowledge that they have gain because most of us have gained that knowledge and wisdom at a great cost to our pocket books and our total hive count. Or we've paid hundreds of dollars for various beekeeping courses and conventions we've attended where we've gained our knowledge. We want a pat on the back for all that knowledge we've gained.
This is to be expected and is okay to a point. However, it can become prideful and greedy. I consider the knowledge I've gained so far to be public domain, shareware, free for others to know too! I share what I know not to seem or sound like a know-it-all but to help others avoid problems and to enjoy greater success. But some beekeepers, not a lot, but some are grouchy, resentful, territorial and negative! They are in every organization, so don't think that just beekeeping has its share of curmudgeons. That's right, curmudgeons. This best summarizes that elite segment of beekeepers who are no fun to be with. Look at the definition of a curmudgeon:


Sound like someone you know? Ill-tempered full of resentment and stubborn notions. Avoid these kinds of beekeepers. They are out there and they are ready to tell you how stupid you are for listening to some other beekeeper or for buying your equipment from one place and not the other. Some will tell you of all the insurance you have to have in case your bees should sting a customer and on goes the list of expressed fears.
Sometimes they don't even have to say a word, but they just give you that look, that makes you feel that what you've just said is stupid and ignorant. Behind your back they'll snicker and say things like, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. His bees are going to die if he tries that..."
Almost every association has atleast one curmudgeon. And one is all it takes to silence the eager student from asking genuine questions. One is all it takes to cause an association to be poorly attended.
There's not much we can do for the few curmudgeons out there. You can requeen a mean hive but you can't requeen your association from the curmudgeons.
So let me give you 10 things for you to do not to become a beekeeping curmudgeon and to deal with those who are...
1) Be nice, friendly and encouraging to other beekeepers and to everyone for that matter.
2) Speak up at your association meetings. In a kind and nice way, try to refute the curmudgeons negative outlook. Share what is positive and what successes you are enjoying.
3) When a curmudgeon gossips about someone else, stop them right there. Do not listen. If you listen and say nothing, even your silence is taken as agreement with them, so don't be silent. Speak positively.
4) Perhaps in a humorous way, you can ask the curmudgeon if he or she might consider requeening their attitude. "Why do you keep bees if you are so down on things anyway. I think you need to get out of beekeeping or requeen your attitude".
5) Each association should give out an annual award for the most kind, helpful and encouraging beekeeper among us.
6) When negative things happen to you, like your hive dies, look at it from a positive point of view. Look at what you learned from the bees that you can apply next time and do better or try a different approach.
7) Contribute to your local association. Don't just show up with a chip on your shoulder because you have family or financial issues. Leave those behind and come with something encouraging and positive to share at your meetings.
8) Think back to when you first started keeping bees. You had to work hard to find answers. So look around and find those new to beekeeping and mentor them and help them along with positive and encouraging advice.
9) When you think you know it all, and you badly want to share it, bite your tongue and try to learn more. Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt".
10) Keep learning. You'll never reach a point where you know everything about beekeeping, so remember that though you may know more than some, lots of folks know more than you. So keep learning.
So, remember to be positive and supportive of other beekeepers. Why not share some equipment or if a neighbor beekeeper loses some hives in the winter and you didn't, why not give him a hive or two. After all, you could have lost those hives anyway.
If your life is filled with hardships and negative happenings, perhaps you need to focus on something positive. Why not listen to our new Studio Bee Live Beekeeping Broadcasts! Sheri and I have fun sharing silly things and smart things that we do on our honey bee farm. We'll give you information on beekeeping as well as make you smile. Just log on to: http://www.honeybeesonline.com/studiobeelive.html or click on the player in the upper right side of this blog.

4)We love to answer your beekeeping questions and now we have a new line just for questions. 217-427-2430. Call that line if you have questions about beekeeping, but call our other line to place orders. The order line is 217-427-2678.
When you call in with your question, we'd love to play your question on our broadcast along with our answer. So, when you ask your question, and it's okay for us to use it on our broadcast, just say, "Hi I have a question for studio bee live..."
Or you can email us questions: david@honeybeesonline.com
Finally, now that it is November, here is what you should be doing with your hive.
NOVEMBER AND THE BEES: The bees continue to cluster for winter. They may not yet go into a full winter cluster, and may actually develop two clusters. They may break cluster frequently on warm days and recluster at night. But they will begin to cluster for the winter. The days are getting much shorter. The queen will lay less and less.
NOVEMBER AND THE BEEKEEPER: Feed your light hives as long as the sugar water doesn't freeze. Finish up all winterizing of your hives. On a cold day when the bees are all inside, weed-eat around your hives. Enjoy Thanksgiving! Start purchasing next year's equipment.
That's all for now, from Long Lane Honey Bee Farms, Sheri and I appreciate you and enjoy calling you our friends!!
Remember to Bee-Have yourself!
David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
http://www.honeybeesonline.com/
ORDER LINE: 217-427-2678
QUESTION LINE: 217-427-2430
EMAIL:
david@honeybeesonline.com

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lesson 43: How To Make Whipped Honey

Hello From Long Lane Honey Bee Farms...

Sheri and I greet you from Central Illinois and from our family honey bee farm where now we do most of our work inside as we move closer to winter. Our bees have now clustered within their hives and they will be like that for the next few months.

I attended the Illinois State Beekeepers Association a week ago Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. At our state meeting we heard reports from our state's bee inspection program on the types and severity of diseases and pests. It seems that we are seeing less and less of disease and pests. This is a good sign for bees and beekeepers. There are now 19,556 bee hives in my state of Illinois. 1,366 beekeepers keep those 19,556 hives.
Our special speaker was Robin Mountain, originally from South Africa and now is Apiculture Extension Associate at Kentucky State University. He spoke on the importance of screen bottom boards, no medications in the hive and queen rearing, some of my favorite topics! The Illinois State Beekeepers Association now has 678 members. I was elected to serve as Central Region Direction with ISBA and look forward to my work with this group.

Last week, Sheri and I launched Studio Bee Live! We have produced our first 5 programs and they can be found at:
www.honeybeesonline.com/studiobeelive.html We are producing one program each weekday, so this should prove to be an enjoyable past time for you as you twiddle your thumbs during winter in hopes of a great spring

Studio Bee Live invites you to call in and speak on our program. Please consider calling in and speaking to our answering machine, telling us your name and where you are calling from and ask a question or leave a comment and we'll play it and answer your comment or question on one of our upcoming programs. Our question line is: 217-427-2430 We had a great question which will air on Monday or Tuesday asking what is meant by checkerboarding. My oldest son, David, and I had a blast answering that good question. It will probably be answered in Monday's program. So do call in with your questions or comments! 217-427-2430. We live in the country so to put in this extra question and answer line, my phone company had to bury 1, 300 feet of new phone cable to my house, so let's put that to good work :)

Also, Studio Bee Live invites advertisers and sponsors. Give us a call to consider advertising on Studio Bee Live. You can also underwrite portions of our broadcasts in memory or in honor of someone special in your life. Call us at: 217-427-2678 if you'd like to know more.

You can download the files from the website: www.honeybeesonline.com/studiobeelive.html and right click on the MP3 file. Save it to your computer, then upload it to your favorite MP3 device. For those who are more computer advance our program is all rss friendly as well as a Widget if you run the Springbox.

Lesson 43: How To Make Whipped Honey


This week I have been experimenting with making whipped honey. I never know what to call it, whether to call it whipped honey, spun honey, creamed honey or spreadable honey. I looked at the National Honey Board website and they called it whipped honey. I like that definition the best.

Notice in this picture of some of my whipped honey how stiff it is. It will hang to a spoon at room temperature. Some people think that whipped honey is honey with something added to it, or that it has been spun. That is not the case. Whenever I describe what whipped honey is and how to make it, it seems that people are so surprised they almost don't believe me. See if you have the same reaction.

Whipped or spreadable honey is nothing more than honey that has crystallized. Surprised?

Almost all honey crystallizes over time. Remember, honey never spoils and it is best left out at room temperature. Even though honey doesn't spoil it often does crystallize or turns hard. Some honey is faster than others to crystallize base on the individual type of nectar the honey was made from by the bees . The more sugar within the honey, the greater the chance is that it will eventually crystallized. However, it is very easy to liquefy crystallized honey by placing it in hot water or in a very warm room or in a window where the sun can warm it up. Remember, all honey crystallizes and this does not hurt the quality of honey.

Now if your honey does crystallize, you will notice that it is not the same as whipped honey, even though both are crystallized. The reason is that natural crystallization of honey has larger crystals than whipped honey, crystals close to what we find in table sugar size. However, what we do to make whipped honey is to grind up the crystals into much, much smaller crystals, so tiny that the honey feels whipped, smooth, creamy and spreadable.

Before I complicate the matter, about grinding crystals, let me tell you the easy way to make whipped honey.

1. Take a jar of liquid honey
2. Buy some spreadable or whipped honey
3. Remove 1/10 of a jar of honey and replace it with the whipped honey
4. Stir it up and let it stand in a room around 56 degrees (F) for a week.

What happens is that the whipped honey you placed in the jar, duplicates itself and keeps the original size of the crystals that were introduced. That's how you keep the crystals small.

It is really fun to make and what a great family activity on a cold winter day. My basement remains 56 degrees all year long and is the ideal location to allow the crystallization process to be complete. This thermometer is GREAT! I buy these at Wal-mart for around $9. This particular model is every beekeeper's friend. I like it because it only has two readings: Temperature and humidity. These are the two bits of information beekeepers need the most. It is made by Acurite and I think I have given the model number in previous lessons. I use these in my queen incubator, honey processing room and now for making sure my whipped honey area is around 56 degrees (F). This one also records the high and low temperatures and high and low humidity level. Can't beat the price for what you get.

Here's an example of a quart jar filled with whipped honey. This was a regular jar of liquid honey and I removed 1/10 of the honey to make room for the starter, which is just already whipped honey, sometimes called "seed". I added the seed starter, and placed it in my basement for 1 week. It worked perfectly. If you are having trouble selling your honey, then diversify and make whipped honey. People really love it.

The process of making whipped honey was developed and patented by Elton J. Dyce in 1935. He provides us with much more details on how to make a perfect batch, but my batches have been perfect as followed above. Dyce suggested heating the honey first to destroy any previously formed crystals.
Enjoy! It is so good.
It's time to order your hive boxes, known as wooden ware. Call today and get your order in! 217-427-2678. Or order from our website at: www.honeybeesonline.com
Remember to BEE-Have yourself!

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Check Out Studio Bee Live. Here's How!

We now have our first program online. Most operating programs will be able to play our program today. If not, you'll need Windows Media Player. We are still working out the MP3 edition and podcasts, so be patient. Let us know what you think, and remember, we need for you to call in with beekeeping questions and we really need some underwriters.

Give us a call at 217-427-2678

Here's the link to our Studio Bee Live:
http://www.honeybeesonline.com/studiobeelive.html

David & Sheri Burns
Long Lane Honey Bee Farms
www.honeybeesonline.com
217-427-2678