After many years…a number of partners and ups and downs…we are making MAJOR changes to our web site! The big change will be that we are going to be “mobile” friendly! It is taking some time, lots of consultation and yes…lots of work! It is our belief that the old sites will fall by the wayside as younger and younger folks take to the web…using mobile devices.
Now that our youtube site is up and running…I plan on keeping the site updated regularly with new vids…hopefully the links from our new web page will lead them right to us! Both ways! If you have ideas, suggestions or just plain want to say something….let us know!
Trying to meet the demands of new venues and markets is always challenging. We did better this year managing our honey to make sure we had a wide selection to present at each venue. We are seriously worried about this spring…the rain has been non existent. We have been hoping we would get some rain. As things change I will keep the blog world up on our area. We are way short on rain. I am afraid it will show up shortly this spring with a real shortage of flowers. An a lack of flowers will force us to begin feeding way too early. And that means a probable shortage of honey this year…we will have to see in the coming months.
This spring we are going to try hard and plant a multitude of flowers around the building…more for customers but a boom for our visiting girls. We will be installing new lights, painting and in general changing up the old place. It has been years since we really changed the place. It sorely needs some new paint! We may even put some bees in a hive up front…but lack of sunlight seems to be a problem. Maybe if we did some massive trimming we could get more light up there so we will have to see.
We hope to redo the insides to make it a bit more “friendly” for visitors…some are confused about how to pay. Our stand is an “honor” stand…we only ask our visitors to treat us like they would want to be treated. As it is open almost all the time…it causes concern to us occasionally. But we have learned over the years that “it all equals out” so we don’t worry too much about it. We probably worry more about someone accidentally disturbing our bees and making them mad! Such are the concerns of a beekeeper…worrying more about his bees than his customers!
This spring will be a curious event…watching to see how the bees react to a drought. I have seen honeybees react to a number of different situations…but never a drought! Nature has a way of dealing with difficult times despite the fact that we as humans try to help. Our help, however vast or pitiful, never changes much. What changes is our perception of what is being done.
We are making changes to our web site. We are slowing bringing our items that we sell at the farmers markets to our web. Since we have introduced new products over the last year, some have become more popular than others. As we love to come up with new ideas for our honey, we are now learning how to get them to our customers. Perhaps you have an idea for some new infusion with honey…please contact me and I will give it consideration. I am now working on several “pepper” honeys. Everyday I think about new ways to serve delicious honey, yet some people just feel that “honey is just honey”. Nothing could be farther from the truth!
We now have a fine chocolate honey! It has a light flavor that hints of fine chocolate as you drizzle it over fruit, ice cream, yogurt…you name it. I have taken that honey farther by adding a fine “cayenne” pepper to it. Now you taste honey…chocolate…and just when you get ready to ask…the cayenne kicks in! Not burning but enough heat for you to go…”There it is!” I came up with the idea after reading about the Mayan indians in central america would delight in a coca drink laced with cayenne…and I thought honey is just as good a medium as coca.
Now this year we have made changes to our creamed/whipped honey. First of all we have added a new spice flavor…”apple pie spice”. This delightful taste will dumfound honey lovers! As a standard, our cinnamon has been a standard for years…the kids call it ” Cinnamon Toast…without the toast!” What a great description!
We talked between us and after much discussion we are not producing nucs this year. Our time has been reduced dramatically because of lack of time. Harveylee, our mother, is now living with us full time and as a result taking care of her has become a full time job. This takes Jackie away from the business and leaves it to me. I have learned a lot about bees over the last few years and with only me running the business, I needed a place to cut. Although I may make a few exceptions, this year I must invest all my spare time into the business.
Our family comes first and of course part of our family is our bees…who only respond in kind to what we give to them. Early predictions indicate a drought this year…not unexpected in a state like California. With the real possibility of much lower honey production this year…it will have a devastating impact on the economy. If we have to go to feeding our bees this year…it will have a devastating effect on our company. Over the years we have developed a relationship with local farmers who love having our beehives on their property. When the bloom is affected, so is the crop. When the local crop is affected, all of our community is affected. As a businessman I approve of a lot of local issues and yet we can do nothing to help our business community than being as local as possible.
I had hoped this year to continue the long line of selling bees to new beekeepers. Alas this is not to “bee”…I found that my time has become very restricted because of personal family…I regret that the bee community will lack us this year yet we will be there in spirit and with a physical presence to help the new ones.
We have already done 2 days of the 6 days. Hope the next 4 do as well as the first 2 days! We have bottled a lot of honey for this next 4 day sales event. The people of Berkeley have been magnificent in stepping up to attend this great market event.
If you live in the east bay and want to discover a great Christmas Fair…come by Berkeley!
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