On December 7 & 8, at the Occidental Community Center, will be the annual Christmas Fair sale…this wonderful annual event has proven to be very popular. We have attended now for 3 years…we have been delighted to let the west county community browse our fine honey and products. We offer a large array of the most unusual Christmas gifts! Most of us get stuck sometimes when we need to buy an usual gift for that special someone. Over the years we have provided a fine assortment of local and varietal honey. In addition, we offer some fine “infused” honeys. And of course our whole line of pure beeswax candles is available! We have always opted for an outside spot…admittedly cheaper but we like the exposure! Our tent will have side for bad weather but the forecast calls for partly sunny and mid 50′s both days.
Don’t let the cool weather hold you inside! Dress warm, bring your shopping bags and descend upon the Community Center for fun, frolics and great vendors! If you want to have a great time just show up! We will do the rest!
Here we have added our new section called “infused” honey…I have learned through a long trial and error method. I approached the Sonoma Chocolateer from Sebastopol and asked him what was the best chocolate to use and how to go about the process. His best and only advice…”Use only Scharffen Berger because they are the best. If you use the best you will never go wrong.”
I followed his advice and soon produced the first of my early honey infusions…”Raspberry Chocolate”…too much chocolate! Just tasted like sweet chocolate. So I began the process of different methods of infusing.
Soon I began warming the honey…to allow the chocolate to slowly melt. Warming raw honey can be a tricky process. It’s generally accepted that over 115 degrees destroys the health benefits of the honey. Because I learned to control the temperature right at 94 to 95 degrees. This is naturally where a colony likes to store their brood/food/honey. A long slow process allows me time to slowly infuse the chocolate…a little at the time. Each addition is allowed to melt and I taste it. Soon it begins to taste better and better…I have learned just the right point…and hold it there for bottling.
After raspberry, I tried orange blossom, blackberry and lavender honey. Each one had a special appeal but in the end only Orange blossom and blackberry honey stood up to the public taste test. Over and over I let customers sample and over and over it was those two that finally won out. Now as the bug bit me I continued to experiment with infusing different honey with different tastes…one particularly interested me from the start…our now famous “Matcha Green Tea infused honey”. This one honey has made almost as many new fans as our cinnamon honey! Virtually every green tea fan has absolutely loved it! Most end up buying it but it is always enjoyed as “how totally great! What a great idea!”
I began using only spices from a local spice company. I have always preferred using local over national brands…just smart economically. When I discovered Whole Spice Company out of Petaluma, CA (right down the road) I was so happy. Their products have proved to be worthy of bragging about! Each new spice has been a joy to discover! Superior products at a competitive price…what more could you ask for?
The whipping process is long and labor intensive. Every batch I make I hold back about 10% to make the next batch starter. The starter is added to fresh raw honey in a blender. I blend for about an hour (to insure complete infusion) and then refrigerate. Each batch is slightly different than the last…perhaps if I used exacting methods it would be perfect, batch after batch…but I don’t. I feel that it gives a bit of personality to each product we put out there for our customers. I guess our cinnamon whipped honey is our most popular honey year round. It is a rare individual that doesn’t like it…and generally they will like either our Apple pie spice or our Harvest spice instead. Last year we discovered that reducing the size of our whipped honey really made them take off in sales.
We offer a 10 oz ($10) and a 5 oz ($5) and a 2 oz ($3). By dropping the size customers are willing to try several at a time now…some flavors sell very fast (cinnamon) and others like clover don’t sell much. For our regular customers who are familiar with our raw liquid honey most are surprised and pleased with whipped honey as an alternative. During cold periods raw honey crystallizes…warming the repeatedly can be troublesome…whipped honey solves the problem!
Infusing and whipping our raw honey is a labor of love for me. The delight I see on customers faces when they try a new honey…is delightful! The idea that a mere infusion can alter a honey to such a delightful idea!
We have two annual events that we are very happy to announce. The first weekend in December is the 28th Annual Holiday Crafts Faire! This event draws shoppers from all over Sonoma County! We began showing 3 years ago now and are well pleased with the sales. Of course we have our fabulous line of local and varietal honeys…but we also have a really nice line of pure beeswax candles! Also, Kathy Cox has begun making some really sweet Christmas ornaments! Also we have our line of beauty products…lip balm, skin bar, skin salve, foot magic. These products have proven to be effective and cost effective for the user. Our soaps are now beginning to catch on again…we had a lag while Kathy caught up on some new ideas and incorporated them into her new soaps….
When we hit the events we will have a full set of all of our honeys and creamed honeys. Please make sure if you are after a special varietal or certified…come early and see if we have it. Please don’t forget to ask for special orders! Our candles are great, smell great and burn a long time!
If by chance you know what you want…call us or email us and we will do our best to help you get some of our fine products
If you want to conserve your funds…check with us for a right nice price!
Our second event is two weekends plus of great Christmas shopping. It begins on December 14 and 15…Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair…this event has become a favorite for us. Allowing us to show and sell our wares in Berkeley has been a great venue for us! As for how long? 6 DAYS! Besides 14,15…it will be 21,22,23,24 also!
If you want to have a great Christmas…have a great time…find the perfect gift…find an unusual gift…come to the Telegraph Ave Holiday Street Fair
If you would like a special order before the event starts…please email us direct at “email@example.com”
Every year…EVERY YEAR I get contacted by someone who wants or needs bees taken or removed from a tree/building/inaccessable spot/ whatever…
I have never really blogged about it. More because no one else wants to do it. It is a very thankless job. Nobody wants to mess with bees they can’t access. Now that that has been said…just how do you deal with bees like this? Well it falls into about 4 directions
First…do nothing. Quite often, especially if it is a small or late colony…they won’t last the winter…problem solved.
Second…poison the bees…effective but nasty…and who wants to do that!
Third…try to redirect the bees and learn to love them…a real stretch for some folks.
lastly…contact a beekeeper to remove the bees.
The rest of this article and blog deal only with the last direction. If you do not want to do this…you need read no farther.
I have been working for about 2 weeks on this tree…the first week was spent removing foragers mostly and THEN finding the secret door they forgot to tell me about!
Now I am working to finish the job and get the rest out…I will be adding more photos and comments but so far…they are still in the tree and very happy to stay there…until I get back again!
Well, it took a few weeks total but the bees are gone…and after all that is what I am being paid to get done. I removed all the wire…and then stuffed the hole (both sides) full of newspapers and whatever I could find. Then I took some of the wire and re stapled the hole…this is a good start for sealing the hole. I then explain that it is necessary to watch for screen failure and maybe ants or whatever…just make sure the holes stay sealed up! As for my client…happy the bees are gone and a much wiser neighbor now…
If bees are in a tree…make very sure you REALLY need them out before you contact a beekeeper…don’t waste their time if you are not willing to pay the price.
Our new venue for October 2013
come by and see us at the fair
September 10, 11, 12 2013 mark your calender and come for fun and education!
I have been asked to check out and removed some abandoned bee hives in west Sonoma County. This is unusual but we have found it in the past. I personally let people know that keeping bees is NOT easy! Keeping any pet or animal or anything that is past the end of your nose…is work, trouble, hard…it does seem that occasionally people just quit and leave the boxes to walk away…in some cases the bees survive…sometimes they don’t.
Honeybees are by nature gentle and avoid us. (we aren’t food or a danger) I plan on an exploratory trip to evaluate the problem and how to deal with it. I will give a big shout out to the person who contacted me…at least they are responsible! Our honeybees are a precious resource that is dwindling far too fast. The bees need all the help they can get from us.
Pictures always help beekeepers understand better…we now use facebook and youtube to post regularly for our fans. I will be taking pictures and posting…it’s a standard thing I do now when I get a bee call.
More to come!
UPDATE!!!! The area was dry and windy…a long view to the southwest showed they were morning bees, hence the view… I arrived to begin the work of sealing and moving the 10 colonies of bees that had been abandoned…probably within 3 to 5 years ago…but imagine the GENETICS!!!! Years of living in the far west county…cold wet winters…hot dry windy summers with lots of fog!
It took over two hours of work to seal, move and load the boxes. Then we had to tear down anything resembling what had been there before…leaving only two small catch boxes for the returning foragers…my assistant picked them up that night…adding them to his colonies.
Update! So far I have opened one box…turned out to be queenless and they were just beginning to rob out the honey and pollen stores…I pulled four frames full of honey/pollen and lots of bees and added them to another box…NOW they are busting! The empty box will be a perfect swarm box and I got some nice pictures. I will post some in my next session. The larger boxes are “bearding” on the front…it can mean several things…too hot inside, too crowded inside or they are just enjoying the warm day!
Sometimes even we beekeepers don’t know what they heck they are doing!
Well this week has been absolutely crazy. With swarm calls daily and several extractions to set up, I can hardly find time to blog. I will say that 4 colonies have moved into existing empty boxes. Don’t you remember what I said about setting out “trap” hives? Well now you know why! If I am getting swarms into MY equipment, that means the idea is sound and all you have to do is be patient…maybe this year, maybe not. I have sites that I have had bees at for years…that means it attracts bees annually. All I have to do is keep empty boxes there and yes, every year (almost) I get swarms
Even if you get a call for a swarm in a bush…remember…they only want a home. Give them what they want and they will come!
I recently nabbed a large swarm and boxed them at the hive. They seemed fine until the next day when I looked to find almost 3/4 of them gone! I did have another batch that I added to them and finally a new queen but it is always disappointing to find them moved on!
Don’t let this happen if you can help it! Add a frame of brood and watch them anchor down immediately! If you don’t have any brood when you catch a swarm try and lift a frame from an earlier swarm….sometimes all you need is the smallest amount!