Beautiful Beekeeping – Happy Birthday To Me!

I came in from tending to my hives over an hour ago, so hot and sweaty it took me a full hour to make absolutely sure I wasn’t dying of heat stroke.

I stumbled into the house and ripped off my bee suit like someone on fire.  Then I lay on my fainting cushion in the drawing room, wondering why I ever took up beekeeping.

No, this morning’s  visit to The Girls wasn’t a bit fun.  Even worse, I hurried my inspection along without spending enough time to make sure everyone was okay.  Ieven turned a blind eye to a Small Hive Beetle scuttling along one of the frames. For shame!

After being fairly certain I was going to live, I made a momentous decision. I was going to throw frugality to the winds and buy one of those $260.00  “Ultra Breeze” bee suits I’ve been eyeing since last May.  Gosh darn it, next week is my birthday and I deserve to buy myself something pretty!!

And boy, is this suit pretty!  A veritable wonder of the bee suit makers’ art!!

bee suit 2

ultraBreeze_suit1

The Sting-Proof yet breezy fabric is ingenious!!

fabric

VeilZipper

 

I’m so excited!  Happy Birthday to Me!!

Blue Moon

Tonight's "Blue Moon" is More Likely to be Red...

Tonight’s “Blue Moon” is More Likely to be Red…

Tonight’s full moon is a Blue Moon — it’s also the Full Sturgeon Moon, the Full Red Moon, the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon.

This full moon qualifies as a Blue Moon because it’s the third full moon in a season with four (most seasons have only three). The moon’s extra names come from traditional monikers for the full moon of a given month. A few hundred years ago, Native American tribes in what’s now the northeastern United States kept track of seasons by ascribing particular names to each full moon. Later, European settlers added their own names for the full moons to the lexicon.

The annual August full moon has come to be known as the Full Sturgeon Moon, because the large fish called sturgeon can most easily be caught at this time of year. The name came from tribes who caught this fish in bodies of water such as the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

Another name for this month’s full moon is the Full Red Moon, because the weather and atmospheric conditions during this season can often make the moon look reddish when it rises through a haze.

And finally, because crops grow tall at this time of year, this month’s moon is sometimes called the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon.

Blue Moons don’t happen too often, which is why the phrase “once in a Blue Moon,” has sprung up to mean only very rarely. After tonight’s event, the next Blue Moon isn’t set to occur until 2015.

Batty In Cincinnati

The bats are back!!  It’s been years since I’ve seen so many in the night skies !!

I first noticed the frisky flyers a few evenings ago. It’s been a wet summer, and mosquitoes, the bats’ favorite treat, are in abundance.

My next door neighbor was worried the bats were eating my bees, but I assured her that they prefer smaller and less prickly prey. If they eat a few bees, it’s no real loss.  And we could do with a LOT fewer mosquitoes!!

This is good news because bats (specifically the “Indiana bats”) are an endangered species in Ohio.

Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

batty

The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967 due to episodes of people disturbing hibernating bats in caves during winter, resulting in the death of large numbers of bats. Indiana bats are vulnerable to disturbance because they hibernate in large numbers in only a few caves (the largest hibernation caves support from 20,000 to 50,000 bats). Other threats that have contributed to the Indiana bat’s decline include commercialization of caves, loss of summer habitat, pesticides and other contaminants, and most recently, the disease white-nose syndrome.

Indiana bats are found over most of the eastern half of the United States. Almost half of them hibernate in caves in southern Indiana. The 2009 population estimate was about 387,000 Indiana bats, less than half as many as when the species was listed as endangered in 1967.

Indiana bats are quite small, weighing only one-quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) although in flight they have a wingspan of 9 to 11 inches. Their fur is dark-brown to black. They hibernate during winter in caves or, occasionally, in abandoned mines. During summer they roost under the peeling bark of dead and dying trees. Indiana bats eat a variety of flying insects found along rivers or lakes and in uplands.

White nose syndrome (WNS) is an illness that has killed over a million bats since 2006 when dead and dying bats, with the distinctive “white nose,” were first observed. “White nose” refers to a ring of white fungus often seen on the faces and wings of affected bats. First observed in a cave in New York in February 2006, white-nose syndrome has spread from New York caves to caves in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,

So why should we care?

Bats are essential to the health of our natural world. They help control pests and are vital pollinators and seed-dispersers for countless plants. Yet these wonderfully diverse and beneficial creatures are among the least studied and most misunderstood of animals.

Centuries of myths and misinformation still generate needless fears and threaten bats and their habitats around the world. Bat populations are declining almost everywhere. Losing bats would have devastating consequences for natural ecosystems and human economies. Knowledge is the key. Bat Conservation International has been combining education, research and conservation to protect bats worldwide since 1982.

The more than 1,200 species of bats – about one-fifth of all mammal species – are incredibly diverse. They range from the world’s smallest mammal, the tiny bumblebee bat that weighs less than a penny to giant flying foxes with six-foot wingspans. Except for the most extreme desert and polar regions, bats have lived in almost every habitat on Earth since the age of the dinosaurs.

Bats are primary predators of night-flying insects, including many of the most damaging agricultural pests and others that bedevil the rest of us. More than two-thirds of bat species hunt insects, and they have healthy appetites. A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour, while a pregnant or lactating female bat typically eats the equivalent of her entire body weight in insects each night.

Almost a third of the world’s bats feed on the fruit or nectar of plants. In return for their meals, these bats are vital pollinators of countless plants (many of great economic value) and essential seed dispersers with a major role in regenerating rainforests.

So, bats are the honey bees of the night. I’m celebrating their return to the Cincinnati skies!!

Poetry Month – “Telling The Bees”

One of my favorite posts! I’ve been talking to my bees a lot lately!! 🙂

Romancing the Bee

Until the early 20th century, beekeeping was almost exclusively a family affair.  It was common for households to keep at least two or three hives, and bees were considered valuable members of the family.

It was a common belief that bees could understand what was said and done around them, and they were often treated as having human emotions. As a result, families were careful to inform the bees of important  family events such as marriages, births and deaths. This custom became known as  ”telling the bees.”

“Telling the bees” was done in various ways,  including tapping the hive with a key, whispering the news to the bees, and leaving an appropriate gift – a piece of wedding cake or some other refreshment – at the entrance of the hive. It was also customary to drape the hives with black crepe or wool.

It was feared that if the bees…

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Cooking With Honey – Mixed Greens With Honey Oregano Vinaigrette And Crispy Prosciutto

oregano salad

For the last two months I’ve been traveling the East Coast attending Bee Meetings and visiting adult children. It’s been lots of fun although I feel a bit like a long haul trucker. 🙂

I’ve visited the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, and the beehive/kitchen garden at the White House in Washington DC. I’ll be posting about my trips over the next few weeks.

Of course I’ve been eating and drinking along the way !! One of my favorite meals was at Nonna’s Italian in West Chester, Pennsylvania, where I had one of the best salads I’ve ever tasted. Not surprisingly, the original recipe calls for honey!!

Whether you make this salad as a prelude to a meal or for the meal itself, I guarantee you will enjoy it!!

Yield:  10 servings

Dressing:

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2-3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black or red pepper, depending on your taste

3/4 cup olive oil

Directions:

Place all ingredients in lidded jar and shake until combined. Let stand for up to two hours for flavors to blend.

Crispy Prosciutto:

Twelve slices prosciutto.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide prosciutto between baking sheets, laying them flat. Bake until fat turns golden and meat is darker, about 15 minutes (rotating baking sheets from top to bottom halfway through baking time). Using tongs, carefully transfer prosciutto to paper towels to drain (it will crisp as it cools). Crispy prosciutto can be used like bacon, in whole pieces or crumbled.

Salad:

Twelve cups mixed greens

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion, separated into rings

12 small/cherry tomatoes, sliced into quarters

1 tablespoon capers

1/4 cup sliced and pitted kalamata olives

12 slices crispy prosciutto, crumbled fine.

Directions:

Mix well and serve with Italian bread and olive oil.

Summertime

Summertime,
And the livin’ is easy
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high

Oh, Your daddy’s rich
And your mamma’s good lookin’
So hush little baby
Don’t you cry

One of these mornings
You’re going to rise up singing
Then you’ll spread your wings
And you’ll take to the sky

But until that morning
There’s a’nothing can harm you
With your daddy and mammy standing by

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