As beekeepers, we’ve learned that bee hives have unique personalities. It’s all about the Queen. She sets the tone of the hive. We love to see the queen, but with 30,000 to 50,000 bees, she can be hard to find. A marked queen is easier to find. A felt-tip marker is used to mark her abdomen which helps identify her. There is an international color system so you know what how old the queen is based on the mark. See the blue mark on the bee in the photo? That’s the queen. She was born in 2015.
Meet the Hives
As a new beekeeper we needed a system to identify each hive and keep records of them. A friend said. “That one looks like a Tiffany box.” Meet Tiffany Hive. Tiff is on the mellow side. These bees don’t get too excited when we open the hive to inspect. They are solid honey producers.
Olive Hive is a few months old. A former hive was experiencing a population explosion, so to prevent them from swarming (recognizing that the hive can’t accommodate all the bees, they leave the original hive to create a new one), we took a few frames that contained eggs, larvae, bees, nectar and honey and put them in Olive Hive. We moved the hive about 3 miles away so that the bees wouldn’t return back to their original hive.
Four weeks later we inspected the hive to discover that the bees had nurtured and raised their own new Queen and she was already laying eggs and developing her hive. Very exciting!
When we inspect the hive we look at the honeycomb. This is the hexagonal beeswax structure where bees store nectar, pollen and honey. It’s also where the eggs are laid and larvae and pupae grow. We are looking for eggs (which look like a grain of rice) and larvae (looks like a white worm) to know the queen is still alive and doing her job. Bees are eggs for 3 days, larvae for 6 days and brood for 12 days. We’re looking for nectar and honey. We can also see the bees moving in and out of the hive and honeycomb. Many with different colored pollen on their legs. Pollen is protein for the nursery. With the queen laying 1,200 to 2,00 eggs per day, the bees need a continuous supply of food. We’re also looking for mites and other pests that can cause damage. In this photo you see open honeycomb that is filled with nectar. The white band at the bottom is capped honey.
The best part? Honey!
The bees have a pretty sweet place to live. They like:
- the sunrise to warm their entrance
- shade to keep them cool
- trees to protect from wind
- water to drink
The second year of beekeeping resulted in about 150 pounds of honey from two hives. That’s a great gift and I’m enjoying eating and cooking with it. Which leads to Honey Spiced Popcorn. 😉
But before I get there, here are a few more honey recipes:
I also like Taste of Honey recipe book.
Honey Spiced Popcorn
Sweet, salty, crunchy with a spicy kick, this is one of my favorite recipes. If you don’t like spicy, just omit the cayenne. This is so easy to make. Unlike caramel corn, this is more heat and eat. Well, with some baking too. But much easier than making a caramel!
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Honey Spiced Popcorn
- Yield: 10 cups
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- Pour oil in heavy-bottomed 4-quart pan. Heat over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes. Add popcorn kernels. Cover with lid and shake pan regularly. If popcorn starts to touch the lid, carefully lift part ofd the lid and pour some into a large bowl. Return pot to stove and continue cooking and shaking until popping stops.
- Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or lightly spray with cooking spray.
- In a 1-quart pan, stir together honey, butter, vanilla, salt and cayenne pepper. Heat and stir occasionally until mixture boils.
- In a large bowl combine popcorn and honey syrup. Stir to coat. Be careful, this hot syrup can burn you.
- Spread popcorn on lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Sprinkle with peanuts. Allow to cool.
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