bee

One Last Harvest

On Saturday I went in and took the last eight super frames, I think the theory is that if the beekeeper takes all the supers off by the end of summer, the bees will still have the time, through the fall, to put in honey supplies in all the brood chambers. Two frames weren't built at all, four were half-built and half-filled and uncapped, and then the last two were completely full and capped. So the last two are the only ones I can jar to sell, the others might not be dehydrated enough for common consumption.

The local keepers say to use it for mead, and I may well do that as my husband's a brewer.



I also saw my first mite-damaged bee that had been in larval stage with the mite larva, i.e. her wings were stunted and she couldn't fly. I did another powdered sugar treatment, and changed out the sticky board. There's a LOT of mites on the board, so I've invested in some of the Mite Away formic acid strips for when the weather finally goes under 70 for a week at a time. It's time to bring out the chemical means to deal with the mites. They're just so thick on the poor girls now it was making me a little unhappy.

Still... about 60 pounds of honey from one hive for a year is really good. I've now given my yearly gifts to the neighbors that directly deal with the girls, and I'm starting to sell the honey to the rest of the neighborhood and my church. Mostly just through personal connections, since I don't process in a commercial kitchen. I think that's one reason why I'll never go beyond just the one hive, as I really don't want to get a license and have to do all the things a business would have to do. Honey for my friends and family is plenty.

I've also been using the diluted honey for brewing ginger ale, just soda pop, no alcoholic content. I simmer the ginger with a lemon and its juice as well as honey and sugar. Then I take the resultant tisane and water it down to make a gallon and add an 1/8 tsp of plain old bakers' yeast (actually instant yeast so I don't have to be careful rehydrating it). Then I give it a little time to dissolve the yeast, shake it up, bottle it, cap the bottles and wait a day or two and then I have highly carbonated ginger ale that isn't all that sweet, as the yeast has eaten most of the sugars, but it had the flowery hint from the honey over the bite of real ginger.

We've been bottling our own root beer too, with the same yeast, and there's something about the brew that slows down the yeast, so it takes three or four days before the root beer's ready, and only a day or two for the ginger ale. But hey, cheap, all-natural soda pop is fun. *grins*

In case anyone's interested in the recipe: 2 1/2 ounces coarsely grated ginger, 2/3 cup honey, 2 cups sugar, one lemon squeezed of its juice, and about 2 quarts of water. Put all that together in a pot (including the two lemon peel halves), and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat, let simmer for about 25 minutes, and then turn off the heat, cover and let cool for at least an hour. Pour through a sieve and a funnel into a gallon jug, add water to fill to a gallon and alternate cold and hot tap water to make the resultant liquid 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Add 1/8 tsp instant yeast (not regular dried yeast or live cake yeast, if you use the regular dried yeast, give it 10 minutes in a cup of warm sugared water first before tossing it in), cap the jug, shake a few times. Then bottle it and cap it, and put it out in the garage in the summer/in a warm area for a day or two and then test to see if the carbonation suits you. Makes 10 12 oz bottles and 1 8 ounce bottle.

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Oh, that ginger ale sounds fabulous! Home honey and fresh ginger.
It is tasty. *happy sighs*

We made two gallons for our Labor Day party and all but five bottles were drunk by kids and adults alike. That was fun.