It's been a crazy spring here in Georgia, especially in the mountains. Our temperatures were cooler than normal and we experienced low's in the 20's in Hiawassee. We had just planted sourwood and chaste trees on the property and they all took a hit, Thankfully that's all behind us and they are putting on new growth.
So, let's get you caught up on the bee yards. Our hives in Middle Georgia are doing great! We thought the cooler temperatures and winds would have a negative impact on the nectar flow but things turned out ok. Our first extraction yielded 84 gallons of honey! The wait was then on to see what the bee-bee and tallow trees would bring. Bruce was sure that they weren't going to bloom this year, but thanks to some well timed rains blooms suddenly appeared! Both bee-bee and tallow trees are extremely beneficial sources for nectar for the bees in our area. The bees have been out foraging daily and the hives are filling up with honey, so much so that we will be extracting again this week!
What's going on with our Hiawassee hive? I'm so glad you asked! Of the 7 hives we had up there going into winter only 2 survived. One was very strong while Bruce was sure the other one wouldn't make it through to spring. We started moving hives up in March and now have 20 located on the property. As with anything some are doing better than others, but all are doing well. We have extracted from some of the hives once already this spring, which yielded 20 gallons of delicious honey. We will be pulling all the honey supers off the hives in a few weeks to prepare for the sourwood flow.
With the honey we extracted in February we are currently at 124 gallons for the year. Our house is FULL of food grade buckets! There's no place to "hide" them all, although I did have an uncle who stacked 25 years worth of issues of the Wall Street Journal to make a wall. A bookcase on either side and nobody was the wiser. Maybe he was on to something!
What else....if you have looked at our products page you might have noticed some new items. What happens when we extract hundreds of pounds of honey? We end of with lots of wax cappings. We drain the honey from the wax and then melt it down. Because we don't have all the fancy(ie expensive!) equipment it's a slow and messy process. Over the winter I started playing with recipes and am now making lotion bars, body butters, lip balms and candles. Soon I will be adding foot scrubs and beard balm. The double boiler is a constant fixture in my kitchen! Recently I went into a local shop and saw a display of products similar to what I'm making. My eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw what they were charging!!! Yikes!!!
To make everything a bit more crazy this spring we started grafting our own queen bees. It's a very delicate process that involves removing young larvae from the comb and transplanting them into queen cups. These cups are then placed into queenless starter hives. The nurse bees with then feed these larvae royal jelly and cap off the queen cells, if they deem the larvae viable. The cells are then placed into an incubator until they are ready to emerge and then are placed into their new hives. Bruce, as the beekeeper, is the subject matter expert on all of this. Ian(our 21 year old son) and I try our best to identify those TINY larvae and carefully extract them. Ian is nearsighted, so he breezes right through his. I, on the other hand, am farsighted and it's a struggle involving a combination of magnifying glasses, headlamps, reading glasses, jewelers loops, and a fair share of cursing. We've grafted 3 times so far this year, with varying degrees of success. Thank God I'm not getting graded on my efforts because I'm sure I would get an F!!
Well, I think that catches you up on our sticky mess! The take away is this......We spend lots of time planning, learning, and executing and when all is said and done Mother Nature laughs at us.
June 26 & 27 Made in Georgia Festival at the Town County Recreation & Conference Center in Young Harris GA
August 7 & 8 The Blue Rose Craft & Fashion Fair at the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry GA
October 8-16 Georgia Mountain Fall Festival at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee GA
November 5-7 Christmas Made in the South at the Macon Coliseum in Macon GA