How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Top Bar Hive Beekeeping

My hives are doing quite well. The bees are busy doing what bees should do. I wish they were making a little more honey right now but they are still in the expansion mode for the summer. There is some nice honey but it is mixed with different phases of brood, i.e. eggs, larvae, and capped brood. One of the downsides to TBH beekeeping is that there is no way to exclude the queen from laying eggs wherever she wants or needs to. Most langstroth beekeepers use something called a queen excluder to keep the queen in the brood nest and not allow her to travel up to the “supers” or honey area. The worker bees are able to only make honey in the honey area or supers. The queen is excluded to just the brood area. There are also some langstroth beekeepers that don’t believe in a queen excluder and keep the brood nest open and allow the queen to lay where she needs too.

One important fact of life that I have learned is that patience is a virtue. I have learned this to be true in many aspects of life! Although we live in a society that wants and needs instant gratification something’s are worth waiting for. Like honey! You can’t rush “Mother Nature”. In a few weeks I will have some beautiful honey, but right now the bees are using it to feed the brood nest. I still consider every drop to be a gift.

I saw a great picture on Facebook the other day. I saved it to my photo stream, because I thought it was a great explanation, in diagram form, to show you exactly what TBH beekeeping looks like. I am so glad that I practice TBH beekeeping. I think it is a more natural way to keep bees. I have talked about this several times. I hope from this picture you have a better understanding of what TBH beekeeping is all about.

My hives are strong and the bees are happy, but still more aggressive than I would like them to be. I need to decide what I am going to do about requeening them. I almost got through all 5 hives on Sunday without a sting. The bees are pretty aggressive and try to sting me through the suit. There was a stinger that was still stuck on the sleeve of my bee suit and it managed to sting me without the bee attached. After a honey bee stings its stinger continues to pulsate and release venom. I did not have much of a reaction. Thank goodness for my allergy shots, they seem to be working. After I finished working the hives a few bees followed me back to the house, before I enter I get the “All Clear” from my husband. He makes sure there are no bees following me inside. I had to go back outside for a second, and as soon as I opened the back door a random bee dive bombed my head and tried to sting me. It took me a few minutes to get the determined bee out of my hair. Why do my bees hate me?? I am really starting to get a complex! I am sure it was quite the scene to see me trying to get the bee out of my hair before she stung me. I had to go inside to the bathroom mirror to find her. Poor girl unfortunately she succumbed to her death after attempting to sting me.

Since I am starting to sell my honey I just wanted to highlight some of the benefits and properties of honey, and the importance of buying and supporting beekeepers. Here is a very interesting article on honey. I had a friend ask me recently how long honey will last, and does my honey taste differently than the honey in the grocery store. I am attaching a good article from “We come from the Future” “Why Honey is the only food that doesn’t go bad.” The article explains that honey is magic and has some pretty incredible properties. I am not sure that honey is magic; I think the bees are the ones performing the magic. I hope you find the article interesting. It gives a pretty good explanation of how the bees make honey. The oldest honey ever found dates back over 5,000 years. It has been said that honey was found in one of the Egyptian tombs and was still good. Why do you think that is… read the article and find out?

I am also attaching an article about how most honey from the grocery store is not actually honey. All the properties and benefits have been processed out of the honey. After you read this article you will never want to eat store bought honey again. My honey is a beautiful dark amber color and has a very strong taste. I have had the opportunity to taste honey from different parts of the country and they are amazingly different. Some are so light in color and others are very dark like molasses. I often go to “Robert is Here”, a fruit stand here in Homestead, Florida. His fruit stand was established in 1959. He has different honeys from all different plants grown in Florida and they all taste completely different from each other. I can tell you after having real honey what we get at the grocery store is not honey. Support your farmers and beekeepers, and buy local.

Here are a couple of pictures of bees and honey that I really like. I collect different pictures that I save to use as my labels for my Mead. Love these!

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