Point of Departure When a Loved One has Passed

Author: Meera, September 24, 2018

After the news of the recent passing of my only sibling and the last member of my nuclear family, I moved an old chair beneath a plum tree on my farmette near the hives to  listen to the hum of bees and read the Georgics of Virgil.

 

For me, reading verse serves as a point of departure to an inward journey where I can find calm, utter silent prayers, seek forgiveness, spiral forth blessings, and come to terms with what has been left unspoken. In time, I find it is possible to surrender to what is and accept what cannot be changed.

 

 

The "Honor" rose...white blooming roses are beautiful under moonlight

Some plant flowers in remembrance of a deceased loved one. Pictured is the “Honor” rose

 

 

Beneath the dense canopy of the plum, I lost myself in reading the ancient verses of Virgil. The reclusive Roman scholar wrote his long poem of Georgics in four parts around 70 BCE. Virgil’s verses draw readers into pastoral landscapes where he describes nature, the seasons and their attributes, as well as the fullness and sadness of life.  I believe my brother would appreciate these verses  that show loss as an integral part of the natural world and our human existence. For me, Virgil’s poetry connects the mundane with the lofty.

 

 

Virgil’s verses speak to repetitive cycles–nature’s seasonal shifts occurring over the landscape, man’s domesticated animals going about their business, bees gathering pollen and nectar to bring forth honey. Some see these verses as primers on agricultural work and animal husbandry. What I derive from these poems is a loftier meaning: as much as change comes into our lives (whether through sorrow, suffering, loss, or war), the big picture is this–life goes on and there is sweetness for us to find.

 

 

A honeybee alights on a fountain for water

Bees need water (as most living creatures do) to sustain life

 

 

In Georgics IV about beekeeping, Virgil writes:

 

 

“First find your bees a settled, sure abode where neither winds can enter ( winds blow back the foragers with food returning home)

 

Nor sheep or butting kids tread down the flowers,  Nor heifer wandering wide upon the plain

 

Dash off the dew, and bruise the springing blades . . . .

 

The above is from another translation, but A.S. Kline offers a beautiful English translation from the Latin of Georgic IV, see, https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Latin/VirgilGeorgicsIV.php

 

Virgil grew up in the rural Italian countryside where the peasantry lived close to the land. When the civil wars during Virgil’s lifetime caused many farms to go into states of disrepair and farmers to lose their land, Virgil’s family farm became a casualty of the times.

 

It’s believed that he subsequently regained his farm but the experience of loss had became indelibly imprinted in his consciousness because his writings deeply reflected the sadness of those who’d suffered loss. Perhaps because the reclusive bachelor and scholar did not enjoy robust health himself, Virgil wrote that the greatest wealth is health.

 

 

Finished jars reveal clear, light amber honey the bees made from springtime flowers

Honey is known as an ancient elixir for health

 

 

 

I thought about that as I sat listening to my bees and the sounds of nature around me. My brother had enjoyed good health before marching with other Marines through Vietnam’s fields of Agent Orange. In the last year of his life, health issues concerned him. But he didn’t dwell on that–farmers and soldiers seldom do.

 

I’m sure if he’d had a choice in the matter, he’d have preferred to breathe his last breath while fishing, surveying the expanse of a newly harvested field, or walking in the woods. Instead, he passed away while removing a sapling that a neighbor wanted pulled from her flowerbed. Death found him lying under an expansive sky on side of the road, the sun on his face, his breath gone, his heart still.

 

 

This angels in my garden serves as a visual cue to live life with gratitude

Angels cue us to live life with gratitude

 

Perhaps, he was ready. Fields and woods, rivers and streams, farms and fresh air have always called to me and my brother like some ancient voice in our DNA.

 

As kids during this time of year in late summer, we would race to the nearest watering hole to wade, throw rocks, or fish. Never uttering a word, we could spend hours sitting on a river bank in dappled shade, poles in hands, eyes on bobbins hoping for a nibble. Or, we would lie in a field of tall grain watching the clouds merge, split, and float across the expansive sky until they’d disappeared completely. It’s how I imagine my brother’s soul departed that fateful day–guided to the Great Beyond by a Spectacular Unseen Hand.

 

 

In the days ahead, I will take comfort in reading words written by my favorite observers of life like Virgil and philosophers of the world, both past and present.  I will read favorite passages in sacred texts. And I’ll refer to my own books on meditation and ritual. I hope the process empowers me to come to an untroubled, tranquil acceptance of the culmination of his life. What will be my destiny, too. May you rest in eternal peace my brother.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

 

 

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0719HHVRJ/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

 

 

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus...all it takes is a moment

Anyone can find peace, clarity, and focus…all it takes is a moment

 

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/y9vfw2t9

 

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De-Bugging My Honeybee Hive Box of Beetles

Author: Meera, February 18, 2018

I’ve been dealing with a beetle problem in my honeybee hive since fall. When my knowledgeable beekeeper neighbor called to suggest opening the hive, I readily agreed.

 

The hive box "super" with ten frames of honey awaits separating and straining into buckets

Frames of honey in a hive box

 

 

 

The dreaded hive beetle–tinier than a honeybee–can destroy a hive. Its destruction isn’t on the bees themselves, but rather the comb, honey, and pollen. As the population of hive beetle increases and the destruction mounts, the bees will abandon the hive.

 

 

Previously, my neighbor had used two types of hive beetle traps in my hive–Beetle Bee-Gone was an all-natural, chemical-free sheet that looked like a fabric softener product for the dryer. We had placed this on top of the frames before closing the hive last fall. The other product was a narrow plastic tray inserted between the frames that held vegetable oil.

 

 

The drone (male bees) are vital for mating with the queen; after that, they are unnecessary and are elminated

The white hive box bee entrance; also an access for the hive beetle

 

 

We discovered that the sheet worked well, trapping lots of  hive beetles. But the frame with oil had no beetles. I dumped it. We checked the brood box–and were excited to see it full of unborn babies.

 

 

After harvesting eight frames of honey, we reversed the brood box, scraped away the burr comb, and positioned a super on top of the hive box with empty frames for spring honey. Before closing the hive, we inserted two clean sheets of Beetle Bee-Gone.

 

 

Today, the bees are active and out foraging for pollen. Flowers are everywhere and the fruit trees in the neighborhood have broken bud. It remains to be seen if the Bay Area gets any more rain or bitterly cold days ahead. Probably by April 1, I’ll hang the swarm catcher and hope to add a new population of bees to my colony.

 

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If you enjoy reading about keeping bees, growing heirloom vegetables and fruits, caring for chickens, or self care for healthy living, check out my Henny Penny Farmette series of cozy mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER, THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE, and HIVE OF HOMICIDES. Click on the URL below. Also see newest nonfiction for healthy living: RITUALS FOR LIFE.

 

 

http://tinyurl.com/ya5vhhpm

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

All available online and in bookstores everywhere

 

 

 

 

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

More than 150 rituals for sound mind, strong body, and meaningful connections to the people around you

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20 Things to Do on a Farm When It’s Raining

Author: Meera, February 6, 2017

Rain . . . unrelenting rain makes working outside near impossible. Since rain is in the forecast for the rest of this week, I’m doing indoor projects here on the Henny Penny Farmette. Why? Because let’s face it: try driving screws into wet fence boards or digging when the earth is like a giant mud ball, or pruning trees when looking upward against a downpour is rather ridiculous. Here are some things to do inside until the weather clears up.

 

1. Clean the clutter from the kitchen and test some new recipes

 

2. Read seed catalogs

 

3. Order beekeeping supplies (to be ready when the weather turns warm and the bees get active)

 

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

Blood oranges keep that lovely red color when made into marmalade

 

 

4. Make a batch of blood orange marmalade (since blood oranges are ripe now)

 

5. Feed bees, birds, and other wildlife

 

 

 

Crew Cut, our resident black phoebe

Our resident black phoebe eats a lot of insects but other birds are attracted to our feeders

 

 

 

6. Work on indoor renovation such as finish the installation of base boards and crown moldings

 

7. Sew curtains; make a quilt, or start an embroidery or knitting project

 

8. Start the spring cleaning in one or more indoor rooms

 

9. Plan the spring vegetable garden on paper with a drawing

 

 

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

Rhubarb takes about three growing cycles to produce enough stalks for harvest

 

 

 

10. Clean out closets and recycle unused items from cupboards and drawers

 

11.Make herbal teas  (for example: dried leaves of herbs such as mint, dried lemon or orange peel, spices, rose hips, and dried berries)

 

12. Catch up on your reading for pleasure or books and periodicals about farm and homesteading topics

 

13. Bring your beekeeping or gardening journal up to date

 

 

Bantam is a small breed; here, a rooster

This Bantam rooster likes to strut his stuff

 

 

14. Order supplies–antibiotics for the chickens or medicines for your bees and other domestic stock

 

15. Bottle honey from the bucket and affix labels

 

 

 

 

Filling from the bucket spigot goes fast because the honey flows quickly; it's quite heavy

Filling jars of honey from the honey bucket in the kitchen

 

 

16. Make a dazzling dessert

 

 

This sunflower bundt pan turns out a pretty cake

The  sunflower cake comes out near perfect when baked in a bundt pan

 

 

 

 

17. Mend clothing

 

18. Start working on the taxes for the upcoming season

 

19. Play your fiddle, piano, horn, or drum

 

 

 

 

Amendments are easy to work into the soil in raised beds

New seedlings moved to an outdoor raised bed

 

20. Start heirloom seed in flats or get some sprouts growing in a jar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

If you enjoy reading about farming topics, check out my cozy mystery series from Kensington: A Beeline to Murder, The Murder of a Queen Bee, and A Hive of Homicides. Delicious recipes, farm lore, and tips for keeping chickens and bees add to the charm of these delightful mysteries.

 

 

The third novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series is due out in September 2017
COMING September 2017
These books are available through online retailers and traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

A Beeline to Murder is the debut novel that launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries.

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

The second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

 

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First the Harvest, then the Floor

Author: Meera, October 24, 2016

My kitchen floor was littered with bits of wax and bee glue yesterday. It took me over an hour on my knees to scrub and clean it after I had uncapped thirty frames of honey I’d taken from my hives.

 

bucket of honey with strainer supporting all the wax spun off during extraction

A bucket of honey with strainer supporting wax spun off during honey extraction

 

 

 

 

In the process of scraping each frame and then unsealing all the capped cells on the front and back of each frame, drops of wax and propolis, or bee glue (created by the bees from bee saliva, wax, and exudate from botanical sources) fell to the floor. I tracked it from the counter, sink, and extractor on the soles of my shoes.

 

 

Even before I put my honey buckets under the extractor spigot, I tape fine mesh strainers over the buckets to catch wax and other debris.

 

 

Springtime honey appears golden whereas autumn honey is often darker (depending on what's flowering)

Three frames containing honey, but the sweet stuff is locked inside a honeycomb of cells sealed with wax by the bees

 

 

 

 

Once all the frames are processed and the buckets are sealed, I put the wax I’ve removed from the frames into a mesh bag to drain the honey (usually a much smaller quantity of honey is recovered from this process).

 

 

When the honey has been removed from the mesh bag, I place that wax on a cookie sheet and set it in the garden for the bees to clean.  After the bees have cleaned all the wax (by eating any drops of honey left), I save the wax to melt into bars for candles or soap-making.

 

 

I drain two frames at a time in a five-gallon bucket

A frame with wax cap cells opened and ready to put into the extractor

 

Back in in the kitchen, the extractor, it must be washed inside and out. Once cleaned and moved to the patio, I must start removing the wax and propolis from the floor. For that, I use an old thin, metal spatula to scrape the tile free of wax.

 

 

A soap and water scrub follows. Then I rinse and dry the floor with rags before moving the honey extractor back into the kitchen.

 

 

 

Honey from a bottling bucket is drained into sterile jars

Honey from a bottling bucket is drained into sterile jars

 

 

I won’t take honey again until next year. But now the honey must be bottled–that means I must sterilize bottles and prepare labels. Keeping honeybees is really only this labor intensive during and after the honey harvest. But the harvest is well worth all the work.

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my cozy mysteries A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE in the Henny Penny Farmette series (from Kensington Publishing).

 

 *          *          *

Enjoy reading about farming topics? Check out my cozy mysteries–A BEELINE TO MURDER and also THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE  (both in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing).

 

These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, chicken and beekeeping tips, sayings and, of course, a charming cozy mystery. For more info, click on the links under the pictures.

 

The books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

NEWLY RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

 

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Harvesting Honey–A Labor of Love

Author: Meera, October 16, 2016

Sitting in the middle of my kitchen is a three-story hive box with thirty frames of honey that needs to be extracted, filtered, and poured into jars.

 

My apiary is small–just two hives. Taking the honey is quite a labor-intensive activity. But it brings its own kind of joy. As pollinator populations decrease, keeping bees is a small thing I can do for all of us . . .  for our planet.

 

 

This electric honey extractor holds four frames; honey is spun out through centrifugal force

This electric honey extractor holds four frames; honey is spun out through centrifugal force and drains through the spigot

 

 

The stainless steel honey extractor, washed and scrubbed, has been pushed over by the oven to make a little space in my already-small kitchen.

 

Today, I washed the countertops, my stove, and even the sink with hot soapy water and bleach. Then after a thorough wipe-down, I stretched sheets of aluminum foil over the countertop. The extraction process started with four frames.

 

It’s a simple process. I set the four frames of honey on the foil-covered counter. Using a hot knife, I open the capped cells on both sides of the frames and put them in the honey extractor. Beneath the machine’s spigot, I’ve already positioned a five-gallon bucket with strainer attached. I start the machine on a slow speed and open the spigot.

 

Each of the five gallon and two-gallon buckets were previously washed and covered with strainers. These are held in place with heavy duty duct tape wrapped around the mouths. Switching out a full bucket for an empty one is easy when the buckets are prepped for use before the extraction starts.

 

Springtime honey appears golden whereas autumn honey is often darker (depending on what's flowering)

Springtime honey appears golden in the frames whereas autumn honey is often darker (depending on what’s flowering, but often star thistle and eucalyptus, in my area)

 

 

I expect a yield of  about thirty-five gallons this time. I lost one hive . . . more on that later, but, in all, it looks to be a good honey harvest for our family and friends.

 

As soon as I extract all the honey, I’ll start bottling it and affixing labels. It’s a process that will take several days to complete.

 

The frame I'm holding contains a queen house, honey, and brood

The frame I’m holding contains a queen house and baby bee food

 

 

Tasting, smelling, and seeing all this golden, delicious honey that the bees created warms my heart. When we take care of them, they take care of us. And we always leave plenty of honey in the hives for the bees to eat throughout the winter.

 

*          *          *

 

 

 

If you enjoy reading about farmette topics (including gardening, beekeeping, and delicious recipes), check out my Henny Penny Farmette cozy mysteries series from Kensington Publishing.

 

These novels are chocked full of recipes, farming tips, and sayings as well as a charming cozy mystery.

 

 

The first novel in the Henny Penny Farmette series

See, http://tinyurl.com/hxy3s8q

 

This debut novel launched the Henny Penny Farmette series of mysteries and sold out its first press run. It’s now available in mass market paperback and other formats.

 

 

 

 

The second cozy  mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, available Sept. 29, 2016

See, http://tinyurl.com/h4kou4g

 

JUST RELEASED! This, the second cozy mystery in the Henny Penny Farmette series, is garnering great reviews from readers and industry publications.

 

My books are available through online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo Books, and Walmart as well as from traditional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spinning Liquid Gold

Author: Meera, May 10, 2016

Honey is the liquid gold that we harvest from our backyard honeybee hives. Until recently, I had to take frames out of the hives, open the cap cells, and drain the honey through a strainer into a bucket.

 

 

 

Electric 4-frame honey extractor

This electric honey extractor holds four frames of the liquid gold

 

 

 

 

Just before Mother’s Day, my hubby purchased an electric honey extractor. He set it up in the kitchen. This weekend, we plan to open the hives and harvest some frames, giving our new machine a test run.

 

 

 

A hand-cranked or electric honey extractor makes it much easier to get honey out of the wooden frames. After the capped cells are opened with a hot knife, the frame goes into the machine. It spins honey against the cylinder walls and the sweet liquid then drains out the spigot.

 

 

 

Me with a frame of honey from the hive

A frame of honey from the hive

 

 

 

I use a fabric paint strainer taped over a five-gallon honey bucket (also with a spigot) to filter the honey and fill the jars. The jar of liquid gold is then labeled and ready to distribute to customers and friends.

 

*          *          *

 

If you like reading about keeping bees and chickens, harvesting honey, and creating delicious recipes, check out my novels in the Henny Penny Farmette series.  Besides offering an intriguing cozy mystery, these books are chocked full of farm sayings, tips for gardening, yummy recipes, and much more.

 

My novels are published by Kensington Publishing and are available through online stores of Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, Walmart, Kobo and conventional bookstores everywhere.

The first two novels in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing.

A BEELINE TO MURDER is the debut novel and THE MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE is the second  book in the Henny Penny Farmette series from Kensington Publishing.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bees Won’t Wait

Author: Meera, March 1, 2016

With so many flowers in bloom now, it’s time to add supers to the hives.

 

 

Search for the tubular circles and you've found the queen houses

The tubular circles are queen houses; a queen lays the eggs that become bee babies.

 

 

 

I can hear the buzzing from my patio, about twenty to thirty feet from the hives. My bees want to make honey, raise babies, and swarm . . . I know it.

 

My neighbor and I are opening hives tomorrow, but I worked out in the apiary today getting extensions (known as supers) ready. These have shorter frames and the bees use them to build wax cells and store honey.

 

I’ve got two active hives and extras. And I have several supers, complete with the shorter frames ready to go.

 

There are about ten frames I can use in a super that are being housed in the outdoor freezer. It’s where I put frames to kill anything that could live over on them that I don’t want in a hive, like a wax moth. The cold kills.

 

I also cleaned the bee glue off another hive box with larger frames in the event the bees decide to swarm sooner rather than later. The bees won’t wait. They’ll need a new house ready when they swarm or they’ll fly away and find one elsewhere.

 

 

 

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Preparing Honeybee Hives for Spring

Author: Meera, February 18, 2016

Recently, I conducted a mid-winter check of my honeybee hives. With my beekeeper neighbor’s help, we opened my Henny Penny Farmette Hives A and B to search for signs of an increase in the mite population, the presence of other pests, and evidence of mold. Inspecting and treating bees with medicines when necessary are important bee management practices.

 

 

 

A dusting of xyz and medicated strips help keep the bees resilient against the threat of mites and other pests

Miticide strips can effectively control mite populations; organic strips are available

 

 

 

We found one bug that I couldn’t identify but my neighbor explained it lays a narrow worm and must be removed before its numbers increase. This we did. We also found three frames in Hive B that had a few spots of mold. We threw away the frames and replaced them with wax-covered frames in the lower hive box where the queen had already produced lots of bee babies.

 

 

There appeared to be adequate stores of honey, baby bee food, and lots of baby bees. In fact, we removed a few frames of honey from both hives. In their place, we inserted frames that previously had the honey drained off but wax left intact (these I always freeze before putting back into hives since freezing kills mites, larvae, and wax moth), making it easier for the bees to start building comb.

 

 

 

Honey can widely vary in color and taste, depending on the type of pollen the bees have collected

Honey can widely vary in color and taste, depending on the type of pollen the bees have collected

 

 

 

The honey I harvested is dark-colored and earthy tasting, typical of autumn honey when the bees collect pollen from eucalyptus, star thistle, and other sources available in autumn. In contrast, spring honey is light-colored and slightly citrus tasting from pollen gathered from blooming citrus trees and wildflowers.

 

 

 

Medicated strips to help fight mites are hung three or four frames inward from the edge of the hive box

Hang medicated miticide strips between frames inward from the edge of the hive box for mite control.

 

 

 

 

Since we found evidence of mites, we hung miticide strips between frames to combat tracheal and Varroa mites. Also, we sprinkled powdered sugar medicine (Tetra-Bee Mix 2X Medicated) over the frames to control risk of American foulbrood. Treating the hives thus will enable the bees to remain robust. I expect their numbers to swell with warmer weather which, in turn, translates to new swarms in the spring.

 

 

*Apivar is an effective treatment of Varroa mites. One strip per four to five frames works through contact and should be placed in high bee activity areas. Not to be used when honey supers (top hive boxes with frames of honey) are on.

 

*Tetra-Bee Mix 2 X Medicated is recommended for control of American foulbrood caused by paenibacillus larvae and European foulbrood caused by streptococcus pluton susceptible to oxytetracycline in bees when used as directed.

 

My newest mystery will be released September 29 from Kensington Books in New York.

My newest mystery will be released September 29 from Kensington Books in New York.

 

 

For more beekeeping tips, delicious recipes, and a wholesome whodunnit, check out my Henny Penny Farmette cozy mysteries: A BEELINE TO MURDER (paperback release in October 2016), MURDER OF A QUEEN BEE (hardcover October 2016), and HIVE OF HOMICIDES (October 2017). Find them on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and other online and conventional bookstores everywhere.

 

 

Meera Lester's debut novel (release date 9/29/2015)

Meera Lester’s debut novel (release date 9/29/2015)

 

 

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Gifts from the Hive

Author: Meera, November 28, 2015

Mention beekeeping, and most folks think right away of the delicious honey that bees make. Of course, farmers and gardeners love bees because the insects pollinate the plants growing in the vicinity of their hives.

 

 

Filling from the bucket spigot goes fast because the honey flows quickly; it's quite heavy

Filling eight-ounce jars with backyard honey

 

 

After collecting pollen, the bees make honey–nature’s sweetener. Honey adds an interesting flavor to savory dishes and is a valued ingredient in desserts. Raw honey also has medicinal value since it has a slightly acidic pH and can cause a complex reaction when used to disinfect scrapes and wounds. But honey has other uses as well.

 

 

Because honey contains lower levels of fructose (unlike refined sugars), it is less inflammatory to the stomach and digestive organs. Today, honey is widely considered a superfood, one to be consumed to maintain good health. Honey is a great ingredient for cough drops and sore throat soothers. Or, drop a spoonful into your favorite tea for a cupful of enjoyment at any time.

 

 

Bits of wax, pollen, and even baby bee food are strained from the honey before it's bottled

Bits of wax, pollen, and even baby bee food are strained from the honey before it’s bottled

 

 

 

Comprised of tiny particles of powdery pollen gathered from flowers, bee pollen is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It also contains amino acids, enzymes, and proteins. It can be eaten in foods or on cereal as well as used as an ingredient in soap.

 

 

Beeswax makes lovely candles and soaps. Honey is often used as a vital ingredient in homemade cosmetics, bath oils, and hand cream. Of course, all these gifts from the hive are as appreciated by those who don’t keep bees as well as those who do. And since the season of gift-giving is upon us, consider buying from local beekeepers their artisanal honey and other products from the hive.

 

 

 

 

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Put Your Eyes and Nose on Your Hives

Author: Meera, September 25, 2015

As a beekeepeer, I sniff my hives as well as visually examine them for signs of hive health. A healthy hive smells pleasant but an unhealthy one can emit a foul odor.

 

 

meera in beekeeper suit lg em

 

 

This time of year, honeybee hives should be checked for populations of mites. Especially destructive is the Varroa destructor mite and the tracheal mite. Mite populations can rapidly increase and decimate a hive.

 

 

The Varroa destructor mites are true “blood suckers” and feed on adult bees (especially drones or males) and baby bee larvae.

 

 

I inspect for deformed bees (like wings missing), red or brown spots on bee larvae, or pinpoint-size mites (looking like ticks) clinging behind a bee’s head or between its abdominal sections.  It’s best to treat immediately when the signs are clear that there’s a problem in the hive. If it smells foul, there could be an infection.

 

 

In fact, beekeepers need to stay vigilant for all kinds of illnesses that can harm their hives: mites, bacterial infections, and/or even predators placing hive’s health at risk.

 

 

The scent of honey and the hum of bees busily working inside the hives can be reassuring to a beekeeper, but doesn’t eliminate the need for regular inspections, especially in autumn. You want your hives to be healthy enough to make it through whatever conditions winter brings.

 

For bee tips, recipes, and a killer cozy mystery, check out my newest offering: A BEELINE TO MURDER. See, http://tinyurl.com/ptegs9g

 

 

 

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