New addition to our Garden…Honey Bees!

We were so lucky to receive a bee box from my boyfriend’s mom to keep in our garden this year! I am so excited because honey bees are incredibly beneficial to not only the garden, but the entire ecosystem! Honey bees are vital pollinators, they are very complex organisms that work together in highly complex societies. The more I learn about honey bees (and I am definitely a complete newbie on this subject) the more I am amazed at their incredible, intricate organization and complexity, and I now appreciate the sweet taste of honey so much more!

Bee BoxOur bee journal is starting today, well yesterday actually. First we moved our box to a more shaded and protected area. We wanted to make sure the entrance to the hive would be pointing away from the west where most of our weather comes from. We also wanted the hive away from normal day to day disturbances like lawn mowing, animals, and… Clementine. It is also important to keep hives away from fields that are sprayed with pesticides or insecticides, but we don’t have to worry too much about that here.

AddingBeesThe next step for our hive was to receive a Nuc, pronounced nuke, is a nuclear hive. It was taken from their hive and consisted of eight frames. It is considered the nucleus of the hive because it contains the queen. The worker bees are loyal to their queen and working well together before they are removed from the other hive. The frames also include honey, pollen, and larvae. You can see the capped larvae, and pollen in this picture. There were also some exposed “c” shaped larvae in the hive!Hive

But the most important part of the hive, is the Queen! She keeps all of the worker bees (which are also all female) together and working efficiently. She also lays all of the eggs, some of which are the drones, or male bees. The strong pheromone of the queen, called the Queen mandibular pheromone is extremely important, this pheromone inhibits other female bees ovaries, and keeps them from being apple to lay eggs. The Queen’s pheromone also promotes stability of the hive- it has a “calming” effect on the hive! The queen also promotes efficiency, mating, and maintenance of the hive. The Queen was spotted in our hive, she’s the one with the extra large bum!QueenBee

You can call me Queen Bee!

Bee FactsSo, we moved the 8 frames from the nuc box into our hive. We knew the Queen came along too because we spotted her! I actually suited up and helped move the frames! It was so awesome. The sounds of the bees buzzing is incredible. They are such crazy creatures.IMG_7045

Next we puffed a bit of smoke on top of the frames so that the bees on top went down into the hive so we could place the top on the hive. Next, Vince, The master beekeeper! knocked the nuc box on a rock slightly so that the bees marched into the hive, following the smell of their queen.
Bee Smoke

And now we have a happy hive, hopefully they love their new home!  Bees also need a source of freshwater within a 1/4 mile. Even setting out a small dish of water is enough, but make sure it is filled and clean, and the bees have a place to land. MeandtheBeesWe placed the inner and outer cover on the ‘super deep’. In a couple of weeks we will place the ‘supers’ on top. The supers on top is what the honey bees will fill with nectar…or honey to us! I planted some snap dragons and lavender around the hive! Hopefully they will love it here.BeeHive

What do you think about honey bees? Would you ever add them to your garden?

Honey Oatmeal Bread

Bread is one grocery item that I rarely buy, I used to be obsessed with bread, I would eat it at every meal. I didn’t realize how much I had stopped using bread until my boyfriend handed me my hamburger with no bun. It has been really difficult for me to find bread in store without fifty million ingredients, and I though it was too difficult to make without a bread-maker so I just pretty much stopped eating it.

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For instance, I used to buy Arnold Oat Nut Bread. I will admit it was pretty darn delicious, but then one day I looked at the ingredients, and this is what I saw…

Wheat Flour Unbleached Enriched (Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Iron Reduced, Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) [Vitamin B1] , Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) [Vitamin B2] , Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Water, Oat(s), Sugar, Yeast, Hazelnut(s), Wheat Gluten, Corn Syrup High Fructose,Soybean(s) Oil, Salt, Whey, Molasses, Soy Flour, Calcium Propionate Preservative, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Mono and Diglycerides, Milk Non-Fat, Soy Lecithin, Walnut(s), Sesame Seed(s), Calcium Carbonate

…Meh. First of all that is quite the long list. While most of it doesn’t look too bad, I don’t like the high fructose corn syrup in there. It seems kind of strange that calcium carbonate is in there…Enriched flour is NOT the same as whole wheat flour, but that is a topic for another day. This is only one example, and this is supposed to be the “healthy” bread. Don’t even get me started on all the other hundreds of options.

Soo… when I know I’m going to want some bread I will dig out this recipe!

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This is a yummy loaf with no white sugar, or strange additives, just oaty, honey goodness. It is pretty easy to make, compared to other bread recipes out there. However, it does take quite a few hours, just to rise. Did I mention it’s delicious?…that’s the most important part!

Ingredients:

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1 Cup Oatmeal
1 Cup Boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup honey
1 egg

1/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast

2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cups bread flour

Combine the oatmeal, boiling water, butter, and salt. Let this mixture sit for a little while so it cools down and doesn’t cook the egg. While you wait, add the yeast to the warm water, not boiling water…you don’t want to kill the little guys. Then add the honey, egg, and yeast mixture to the oatmeal mix. Stir to combine. Gradually add the flour. Knead the dough for a couple minutes until it is pretty bouncy and tacky. (I have no idea how else to describe this, 5-8 minutes I’d say). Roll the dough ball in a bit of olive oil and place back in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and towel and let rise in a warm area for 2-3 hours. P1080957 Edited

After the dough has risen, punch in down. (Seems counterproductive to me, but that’s what my baking instructor/boyfriends mom told me to do) Press out a rectangle and rolllll it up. Fold in the ends and pinch the seams. Place seam side down in a greased bread pan. Let rise for another hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Keep this baby in the fridge after you eat the first couple pieces because it will dry up pretty quickly.

**You can also bake this bread in a lump (like in the picture) on a pizza stone, just make sure to check that it cooks all they way through.