Monday, February 23, 2009

Catching Bee Fever

You might be wondering how the bee keeping adventure is going...GREAT!!!

I have now attended 3 of the 4 courses, taught by bee expert and mentor to most of the county, Serge Labesque. He is literally so revered and well-known here in Sonoma County that you don't even need to mention his last name. He has raised bees for years and has created modifications to standard bee boxes/hives that are now known as "Serge-Style".

Every night after class I call my brother, Pat, to tell him what I learned that night. (I saw Pat's hive in December and knew if he could do it, so could I!!!) We have discussed what size "super" to use (Serge recommends using the medium size because the weight of the larger boxes are too heavy to handle), whether or not to use queen excluders, a screened level that keeps the queen from being able to move up into the next level of the super. Serge DOES NOT believe in the excluders but most bee keepers think of them as standard equipment.

I am so revved up after class that I have to take something to help me sleep! The day after last weeks class I was burning up the wires by emailing my bee keeping girlfriends asking them things such as "nucs", nuclear bee families with unborn queens, where is the best place to buy supplies both locally and online, who treats their bees with powdered sugar (a no-no in Serge's book) and so on.

There is SO much to learn. The one point Serge keeps driving home: respect the bees and what they naturally do. Don't interfere. I like that philosophy and will do what I can to uphold it.

Supplies can be found at:
Western Farm Center
Dadant & Sons, Inc.
Brushy Mountain Bee Farm
Glory Bee Natural Foods and Crafts

Thanks to Carolina Bees and for the photos.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rainy and Wet Daze

It has been raining now for 7 days straight. Most of my rain coats are now muddy, the oatmeal colored carpet in the house has muddy foot prints on it, the chickens are looking bedraggled and the dogs are now digging to get under the house.

We did a food booth at the AMGEN bicycle race this weekend. It seemed like a good idea before we found out about the storm. Sheesh...what a day that was. It was so unbelievable that we just had to laugh. We were in a 10 x 10 tent along with 3 - 6 foot tables and food galore. It was pouring and cold...and...not as successful as we wanted...but such is life, yes? When you have lemons, make lemonade.

The rain has filled the creek/seasonal water feature in the back yard. Usually it is flowing from mid-December and it starts drying up late April or even mid-late May. This year it didn't start flowing until Friday, which is SO late in the season.

One of our porch kitties, Tiger, was missing for a few days and last night I started to fret. His maximum stay away time is 3 days and he was on the edge of 3 days with no sighting. FINALLY he showed up this morning!!! Yeah, Tiger!

On the other hand, his little sister, Chloe, that has moved into the house, as you can see, she has taken to the softer life. She looks very content. Lucky girl!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bee Crazy

I'm crazy for lovin' you, Bees, especially when battling an incredible addiction to chickens. I can't help it. Ever since I saw the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes", I have been bound and determined to be a bee charmer. No, it was before that. Maybe it was Winnie the Pooh with the honey jar that did it...

Whatever the catalyst, here I find myself on the precipice of the leap into bee keeping. I am taking a class at the local JC and have lined up several mentors to personally guide me through it all.

Things I didn't know about bees: (the list is longer than what I do know!)
- on a hot day bees will carry droplets of water to each comb and then fan it with their wings to keep the entire hive cool.
- the worker bees, at the end of a swarm, which seems a little like a wild orgy and then moving into a new apartment, will do a maneuver that resembles the yoga move of Downward Facing Dog, to indicate that the Queen has entered the building.
- they need to drink water all year long and prefer salty, mineral water to chlorinated water.
- they are very tidy and will thoroughly clean out the hive during the winter.
- the worker bees are all females and when shutting down the hive for the winter...kill or drive off all of the drones.

That is one way to have a slumber party!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Farmer Jeff's Cooking Demo

Farmer Chef Jeff appeared on television today. It was a live feed and it was GREAT!!! He demonstrated the Oaxacan Mole that he will be demonstrating at Rodney Strong Vineyards 20th annual Wine and Chocolate Fantasy on Saturday, February 7th.

I was the Gal Friday and cheering section. It was a lot of fun and I am just brimming with pride. I know how hard Farmer Chef Jeff works and this little bit of recognition is sure nice.

You can see it because it is now posted online on ABC San Francisco
Just click on the link and you will be able to watch it. Enjoy!!!

Write to me ( if you would like the recipe. I will then send it out to you. contains ...Chocolate!!! Ooooooohhhhhhhhhhh...Scary...........