Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Honey Harvest 2014

We are backyard beekeepers. Why? Eric has always thought it would be an interesting, fun hobby and would help us be one step closer to self reliance, and his little brother starting a few hives and that motivated Eric to start too. I am a backyard beekeeper because I am married to Eric.
Here is a photo journey of our first honey harvest since moving to Texas. In the past, in Idaho, honey harvest day was a family event. It was a family event here too, just not as much family; Eric and Me!
The extracting equipment all dusted off and ready to go!

Getting the smoker ready to go! Eric uses cedar chips.


Suiting up

Yes, I was forced to suit up this year too. Where is the son and sons-in-law when you need them?

I should lobby for a veil that actually fits me.

Inside the hive...busy little girls!

Our yard is all a buzzzzzz.

Taking off the super.

When bees hang out on the front of the hive it is called Bearding. Appropriately named it think.

Sometimes the bees build comb where they are not supposed to. Eric scrapes it off and turns it into lip balm or lotions.

No blog is complete without a selfie.  Aren't we looking bee..utiful?

These are the frames that we will extract the honey from. To get them bee free, Eric shook the bees off then brushed the bees off with a soft brush and then I took the frame away from the hives and placed them in the boxes and covered them with a sheet so the bees didn't get back on them. I didn't want bees in my house!

This is unfiltered honey coming out of the extractor. It is being filtered the first time through the red strainer. It then gets filtered a second time through a fabric that is similar to cheese cloth. No bee parts allowed in the final product.

Eric is removing the cap (wax) that the bees put over the honey when it is completely changed from pollen/nectar into the real stuff. When it capped we know it is ready to be harvested. I'm not the bee expert, but so I probably got that a little wrong. But in general it is pretty close.

The knife if heated so it melts the caps right off. After that the frames go in the extractor and we spin it to remove the honey from the comb.

Here is the honey after coming out of the extractor, through the first filter and now this is the final filter.

Last step is to put the honey in containers.

The honey on the left is honey we got from our hive when we lived in Idaho. The honey on the right is our first Texas honey. It is quite a bit darker in color. They both taste good, but different.

Really the final step in this whole process is the sticky clean-up. I am pretty sure my kitchen floor will remain sticky for a few weeks even though I have mopped. It just goes with the territory I guess.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Brazos Bend State Park

Finally I have something to blog about! We lead such an uneventful life, but today Eric took the day off and we decided to combine our workout with a little adventure. We loaded up our bikes and went to Brazos State Park. We drove the back roads to get there and saw some very pretty cotton fields.

This was our first time visiting this state park so we didn't know exactly what to expect. It was very beautiful. We set out with a map and we were not even 5 minutes into our ride when we spotted our first alligator. He was right next to the path.
We stopped to take a photo then continued on only to see three more alligators within a couple of minutes. We didn't take pictures of all of them. Some were in the lakes and not very close. But we did take a few pictures from the top of an observation deck.
 I really liked the big fluffy clouds. They were pretty and they kept the temps bearable.
Most of the trails were gravel. They meandered through areas that were surrounded by live oak trees. The oak trees also had Spanish moss hanging down from the branches. There were vines hanging down from the trees too.

Besides live oak trees there were many pecan trees. Eric filled his pack with pecans!

All in all we rode around for 2 hours covering about 8 - 10 miles.
We spotted 8 alligators, 3 deer, lot of birds (ibis, herons, ducks, egrets), a few squirrels, many fire ant hills, and evidence of wild boar. The dragonflies were plentiful and sporting many colors.

We plan to go back and keep exploring. We only covered about half of the park. There were not many people there. I think we were the only ones on bikes. It was a really fun way to kill two birds with one stone; experience the park and get in our daily exercise.