Spring 2015

It has been way too long since I worked on this site.  I was having problems with passwords and just finally took the time to update it. Over the past month, we harvest honey from two hives, but just got around to extracting it over the past two days.  It went so much easier than before because two people from our ecovillage community volunteered to help.  Thanks Susan and Vidit.  Yesterday with Susan’s help, we decapped and spun about five dozen frames in about three hours.  During that time, I was also able to begin filling jars and labeling, as well as cutting several frames of comb honey.  That is about half the time it usually takes.    I will add pictures soon.

To find out what we have, you can always look at our page called Our Local Honey.  You can always reach me by email at  sanda at beenatural.org.

Dismantling the fair booth

BrigBrianDismantleBrian and I got to the fairgrounds about 10 and with the help of others we were able to dismantle the booth and move the observation hive onto a truck in about an hour.

LoadonTruck

On our way out, we noticed all the straw in piles outside of the animal barn.  We asked if it was being thrown away or if it was being taken.  We ended up picking up three large bags of straw for mulch and nests and two of manure soaked straw for compost.  It is not many folks that would think this was cool.

Last day of the fair

I sure wish I took more pictures.  The fair ends today and we will help take down the booth tomorrow.  Yesterday was my last shift….I did five and probably sold about a third as much honey comb and twice as many jars of honey as my day and a half at the Maker Faire.  Hopefully I made some good connections with folks I may see in the future.

 

First day at the fair




It’s been a couple of days, but had a good afternoon at the fair on Saturday.  I sold about a dozen boxes of honey comb and a couple of jars of honey….Brian had packed me up, but only packed my lavender infused honey.  I enjoyed working with Kendal Sager.  She is a delightful young beekeeper and displays her honey well.  She has also put together mini-kits so people can try their hands at making lip balm and a votive candle.  She also is blogging about her experiences. observationhiveWe both enjoyed talking to people about beekeeping and honey, but she really did a great job of working with kids sharing the observation hive.

Her boyfriend took a picture of us, and when I get it, I will share it here.

I will be at the fair again on the 2-5pm shift on Tuesday, Wednesday, and next Saturday.   This is what it looks like from my seat behind the table.frombooth

 

Harvesting and packing comb

 

Empty Comb box on the left, frames in plastic box.
Empty Comb box on the left, frames temporarily stored  in plastic box.

Today we harvested a box of honey comb from a comb box on our Langstroth hive.  A comb box is shallower than a usual medium box and of course, there is no foundation.  The bees draw it out naturally.  We should have harvested this box about three or four weeks ago and some of the comb was spoiled as drones were layed in some of the cells in two of the ten frames.

After spending several hours in the garden, I went into the house to cut comb out of frames and pack the up.  There were 53 box ranging from about 4 oz to 12 oz. Then they were all weighed and labeled….except for one box which will be submitted to the San Mateo County Fair.  I won a blue ribbon two years ago, hopefully will again.

PackingComb3 PackingComb2 PackingComb

Cutting and packing comb

 

Recovering from the big push, getting ready for the next one

So haven’t done much with the hives in the two weeks since the Maker Faire.  I know for sure, I need to harvest a comb box from one of the hives, and there may be more.  The swarm we caught from our new top bar has been successfully living in our old top bar hive which had died out earlier in the spring.

The gardens are looking very lush with flowers and fruit….and weeds everywhere.  The bees look happy.  I am particularly enjoying some of the giant sunflowers sunflowersBrian planted.

 

Now I need to start thinking about getting ready for the county fair which starts in a week.  I need to package or repackage smaller comb packages.  I have enough honey poured…though we have lots more in buckets as we had harvested over 100 pounds the beginning of last month.  My soap did not sell well at the Maker Faire.  I wonder if it will do any better at the county fair.

Recovering

I went back to the Maker Faire on Sunday with my Producer’s Certificate and with an address label on all the packages and sold honey and comb and honey soap all day.  The health department did not come back.

Doreen was right that people are more likely to buy smaller packages of comb. I sold every small package I had … a little over three dozen as well as about a dozen of the larger boxes.  I had difficulty keeping track of what I was doing.  I definitely spent more time talking to people about beekeeping and honey products than selling.  I think I also sold about two dozen jars of honey.

I wish I had remembered to take pictures.  Lots of people took pictures of us…..but don’t know who or where.

Hassled by the health department

The health department closed down my honey sales today at the Maker Faire.

One, I couldn’t find my Producers’ Certificate before heading over today.  They are insisting that we all need to have it or the Cottage Industry Certification.  It really doesn’t make much sense for beekeepers with only a few hives.

Secondly they say the consumer needs to have the address of where the hives are on the label.  I disagree with this.  I think the Ag department needs to know this, which they do when they give me the Producer’s Certificate after coming to see my hives, but I am not comfortable making my home address so public.  I would rather people have to email or call me first before I invite them to my home.  I also chose not to put the address on the label because there is just so much room on a label.  I have my phone number and email….which relates to this website.  I think in this day and age, that is all the contact information that should be needed.  I do have address labels….the kind that the non-profit give to you and I will put them on the containers…but I don’t like it.  I think I may even complain as I think it is an outdated regulation.

New label-getting ready for the Maker Faire

NewLabelWhat an amazing day.  I designed a new label and then had it printed at Office Depot.  What a deal.  I got 300 labels for $10 and they charged me $2.50 to print them.

 

chunk honeyLabeled and packed 7 cases of honey.  I noticed that most of my pint jars (1-1/4 #) were chunk honey and I primarily have half-pints (12 oz) in liquid honey. We put all the honey in the car and headed over to the Maker Faire for the Maker event….great paella and a chance to preview before everyone else comes.

 

 

When I got home about 9:00, I proceeded to weigh and repackage all my honey comb.  It was pointed out to me that it was challenging to sell boxes which were much over a pound as I get $1/oz.  combboxesSo about half the box were opened and the pieces cut in half and put in smaller clam shells….should have taken another picture.  Now they range from about 5 oz to 10 oz in the clam shells.