Harvesting Honey

Harvesting Greenway Gold Honey

At the college where I work, we got permission to raise honey bees and this week was our first opportunity in harvesting honey.

The Hives for Greenway Gold

The Hives for Greenway Gold

Bees are in danger and need all the care and help they can get. So to see one of the two hives we have thrived is quite a source of glee and happiness.

I am not a bee keeper but I am a local honey devotee.

Local honey helps with all kinds of pollen related allergies. As someone who was highly allergic to just about anything that grew, once I started consuming local honey and local bee pollen, the allergies for the most part, disappeared!

Let’s hear it for local honey!

On to the harvest!

The box that had the frames which held the honey had been removed from the hive stack the day before.

Honeycomb frames filled with honey!

Honeycomb frames filled with honey!

It really pissed some bees off, Jim got stung a couple of times. Why not? The bees were only protecting their winter survival source.

The “Extraction Room” had to be readied: plastic on the floor, tables, warm honey extracting knife,

The warm wax cutting knife

The warm wax cutting knife

centrifuge assembled, screen filters, buckets,

The filter bucket

The filter bucket

jars and damp paper towels all in place. Don’t forget the tasting spoons!

Assembling the centrifuge

Assembling the centrifuge

Each of the frames weighed around 7.5 pounds before removing the honey and 1.5 pounds after. The process is sticky but amazingly rewarding.

Once you have everything ready to go, one of the frames is placed so the wax caps can be removed from both sides of the frame using a warm knife made for doing just these kinds of things. Catching the wax caps in a bucket below is a great idea as this is “virgin” beeswax, perfect for making lip balms and body lotions; just wash the honey out gently in cool water.

This is some of the wax cut off the honeycombs; virgin beeswax is perfect for lip balms!

This is some of the wax cut off the honeycombs; virgin beeswax is perfect for lip balms!

Cutting the wax caps with a warm knife

Cutting the wax caps with a warm knife

Place the frames in the centrifuge, there’s a certain angle they have to be placed because the bees create the honey combs on a particular angle to prevent the honey leaking out. Clever things!

Inside the centrifuge, see all the honey at the bottom?

Inside the centrifuge, see all the honey at the bottom?

Once the honey is spun out of the combs, it needs to be filtered.

It gets filtered through a larger screen mesh then into a fine mesh into a clean bucket below.

Then it is ready to bottle. When the honey is first bottled, there are a lot of air bubbles in it.

Due to the viscosity of the honey, it takes some time for them to rise and leave behind the clear, lovely color of the honey.

From our first harvest, we extracted 3.81 gallons!

Filling the jars

Filling the jars

We are naming it “Greenway Gold” since the hives are near the Greenway here in Charlotte.

Look at our stash!

Our honey is pale yellow and has a very floral flavor, similar to an orange blossom. It is delicate and sweet and couldn’t get any more local. Heck, it’s made just outside my office door!

Here’s an amazing part: the bees will refill the empty combs and will “clean up” any honey left on any of the buckets and other things. It’s good for them. Our main concern is the equipment getting stolen so Jim takes the things home for his home bees.

Did you know a honey bee will only produce about 1 teaspoon of honey in its lifetime? These are amazing critters.

There is a “Bee School” around here that is working hard to encourage people to keep bees. I don’t think I’d ever actually keep my own, but I will certainly continue to help with the honey extraction!

Now I can have some honey flavor in my lip balm formulas, won’t that be nice?

Part of the first Honey Harvest!

Part of the first Honey Harvest!

 

 

More honey

More honey

Greenway Gold with Breakfast

Greenway Gold with Breakfast

Gaining Control of Our Food – How to stand up to Big Corporate Food

The state of our food supply is in crisis and WE are the ones to do something about it.

This is the beginning of a mission. There is a way we can fight back against big food corporations.

Cassie Parsons is a local chef and farmer who has an on-fire passion about local and honest food. This past February she did a TEDx talk about her big idea. In her speech she declares

“Our food supply is broken.”

And she’s right. She’s spot on.

Cassie’s TEDx Talk is linked below, give it a listen, Please.

This is what I have to say about the state of our food.

“America has the worst food in the world.”

We have the most and the worst. Quantity does not make quality food. Quantity has never made quality in any industry. Still there are so many that go hungry;  that is another discussion for another day.

We are in a state of change and increasing awareness. There is no reason to feel helpless about our food supply unless you decide not to do anything or you think someone else will do it instead.

That’s what Big Food is counting on, good old American apathy.

We’re world champions in apathy, we’re apathetic champions off the freaking chart.

You know what?

I hate to be the one to break the news, but the time for change is here; it’s NOW and it’s up to us.

We can’t let this go.

I want to talk about what we can do to stop Big Corporate Food from developing, planting and growing GMO‘s and other food atrocities they have developed and forced on us. They think we don’t need to know; they think we don’t care.

Worst of all is they think they can get away with it.

Here is the biggest thing, We DO have a choice. We have to demand the truth as to what is in our food, how it is processed and how the animals are treated and what’s in it; we have to get involved with our food.

Two news reporters were fired for not watering down a report about Monsanto and recombinant bovine growth hormone  causing cancer in humans who drink milk from cows treated with rBGH. rBGH is injected into dairy cows every two weeks to increase milk production which increases profits at the expense of human health. Click the link above to read the article.

Have you heard of rBGH? Big Food feels you don’t need to know if the milk you drink and give to your children is from cows treated with rBGH. You only find it mentioned on milk without it.

You don’t need to know that commercially grown strawberries can have residue of up to 13 different pesticides on them.

You don’t need to know that in order to “water” the plants, workers need to wear hazardous  material suits “to protect them”.

From what?! Aren’t they supposed to be “watering”?

The bees are dying due to the use of GMO seeds for growing crops.

Monarch butterflies are affected by GMO corn crops. You can hardly find non-gmo corn  anymore, even then, I’d question it. Same with soy and soy products.

If you read food labels, you may have noticed high fructose corn syrup products appears in nearly all processed foods.

What about additives, preservatives, FD&C color dyes for food, drugs and cosmetics (FD&C means that it has been approved for use in food, drugs and cosmetics) and who knows what else they put into products. How many of us read a label, see a list of 40 or so ingredients, glaze over it and buy the product anyway?

Those aren’t “cherries” on your cherry danish from that favorite fast food place, but a “cherry-like” substance with full cherry flavor. Read it.

Leave the products on the shelves! Drive by fast food, you and your family devserve better.

How can we make a change?

With our purchasing power and the decisions we make. Learn to make some of the “processed” food we buy at home; pickles, condiments, sauces, salad dressings, mayonnaise there are so many easy things to learn.

Photo: Let’s change the way we grocery shop

When we buy food that has come from a long distance from where we stand, we pay for that in more than money. When we buy those products, we no longer support our local economies. That money goes back to where the product came from or was produced.

Cassie explains this in her TEDx talk. I suggest when you are finished reading this post, go get a cup of coffee, glass of tea or whatever refreshing beverage you want, come back and watch Cassie Parsons talk. There’s a link at the end of this post and only about 18 minutes long. It will make you think.

It will empower you and implore you to do something too. When you process your own condiments and other food, you know your ingredients, you know what you are serving; you know ALL the ingredients and the quality used.

Yo wont find pink slime in your burgers if you grind your own meat, you won’t find bone scrapings and other left over bits if you learn to make your own fresh sausage.

If you do this right, you also know who raised the pig and get the casings from the same farmer.

If you make your own pickles, know the farmer who grew the cucumbers. There are farmers markets in nearly every city on nearly every day of the week. There is no reason not to find one and use them.

Beyond benefits of local foods, you gain the benefit of a stronger local economy, a stronger social community, which leads to great places to live and raise families. Why? Because you know who is growing your food, what they are growing and how. You share things, trade things, eat healthier, you build a better community.

Your health will be infinitely better. My grandfather used to tell me you can grow it yourself, pay the farmer, or pay the big grocery stores and then pay the hospital bills. He grew all his vegetables and raised a large family with fresh bread, fresh fish and good food.

If we decide to make our own processed foods (yes, there is a learning curve) we can have an impact on big food profit. If products sit on the shelves, if people stop buying them, it will have an impact on profits, which would get BCF attention.

Maybe then, Monsanto and other companies would listen to “Please No GMO!”

Watch this, out of the mouths of babes, the young people get it and it scares them.

If everyone learned just one thing they could make, make enough to share with neighbors, swap, make things together and share. This is not only about building our health, but community and quality of life.

We don’t have to feel helpless or voiceless in this food crisis. We have a choice. WE can do something, each and every one of us.

Buy local.

Ask questions about the food you buy.

Support local farmers.

Learn to make basic condiments, with a group and share.

Start a pickling group or whatever. Make food about people, health and community again; take the profit away from Big Corporate Food.

Stop the apathy and get involved, your health depends on it.

Here’s Cassie’s talk below

Onion Scapes

This post is about the beautiful onion scapes growing in my garden.

Enjoy the photos.

IMG_5639 IMG_5638

Eating Local

This is my interpretation of “eating local“:

Local Fare

Local Fare

The multi-grain bread was made by me and cooked on the grill. The sourdough culture I use is nearly 2 years old and came to me from a friend.

I grew the lettuce.

I made the goat cheese from milk from local goats. I could find out the names of the goats if I wanted. I buy the milk from our organic farmers market who bring it in fresh. Low-temp pasteurized, yeah buddy!

The tomato is from a farm just down the road whose family has been growing vegetables and operating a working farm on the land since 1775. These tomatoes are the first to ripen with any flavor, just perfect for the goat cheese!

So there you have it. Local food for lunch.