It’s Summers Time!


It’s hard to believe that Summer is essentially over. As I write this it’s is the end of August, so we have a few more weeks, but everything is starting to show the signs of Fall coming on. The kids are all back in school, the county fair has come and gone and next weekend is Labor Day weekend. We’ve harvested our Summer crop of honey – got about 300 pounds from five or six hives. We’re still getting the fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s slowing down already.

Fall in Northeast Ohio can be really beautiful depending on how much rain we’ve had and how quickly the weather changes. Right now we’re sitting in Asheville, NC at the Mother Earth Beekeeping Institute where Kim is helping teach new beekeepers. The crepe myrtles (a beautiful plant that doesn’t grow in Ohio unfortunately) are blooming and it’s sunny and warm here.

There are about 130 folks here in Asheville taking two days out of their busy life to learn how to be better beekeepers. This is always so encouraging, to see new people hungry for the right kind of knowledge. This weekend they got four experts – Kim, Jennifer Berry, Steve Repasky and Shane Gebauer. Beekeeping is alive and well.

One thing we like to do at the end of our beginning beekeeping classes is a honey tasting. We did one here in Asheville. It is always fun to see new beekeepers realize that there is a lot of difference in honeys.

We’ve started doing more than just tasting honey. We do some pairings with cheese and fruit. One thing that is really fun to do is to have a jar of Buckwheat honey and dark chocolate. Buckwheat honey is very strong and I don’t particularly like the taste of it. But when you dip dark chocolate in it something wonderful happens. If you’re teaching a class or maybe at one of your monthly meetings do a honey tasting. It’s a lot of fun.

It’s been a blur since I wrote the previous paragraphs. We had a pleasant Labor Day weekend – hope you did too. Here in Northeast Ohio the leaves are just starting to turn and the nights are a little cooler. Fall is definitely nearby. The garden is winding down. It’s the time when you’ve got more tomatoes and peppers and zucchini coming on than you can handle yourself, so we share a lot.

We spent a few days in northern California last week at the WAS – Western Apicultural Society – 40th Annual Conference. The weather was beautiful, bordering on too warm the day we arrived – 92°.

The meeting was held on the campus of the UC Davis. We were close enough to walk back and forth to our hotel. Davis is known for it’s bicycles – lots and lots of bicycles. There are many roads that are completely blocked to car traffic. We saw lots of students riding their bikes. The bike racks took up almost as much space as the parking lots for cars. And of course beautiful plants all around. It was hot the whole time we were there. They’ve been setting records for heat out there all Summer.

Meanwhile back home the chickens were well taken care of by Jessica, Kim’s daughter who has moved back to Ohio. She has really done a good job of helping with the chickens, the garden and the cats. It’s a joy to have her here with us.

The young chickens have finally started to lay. So at first you get those small little eggs, but it doesn’t take long before you’re getting regular sized eggs. We now have enough eggs to share again.

Since the addition to the coop this past year we have two distinct ‘rooms’. For a few weeks now all but one of the chickens are in the old part of the coop at night when it’s time to shut the door. One of the two-year old girls has taken to going into the other new area and perching on the open window all by herself. She sits looking out the window facing away from the other room where all of the other chickens are. It’s very odd. The first night she did this I couldn’t see her because it was dark. So I counted 19 chickens about three times, went outside to check the pen, then finally found her in the other part of the coop. I guess she just wants to have her own space.

Just last night (early September) we stepped out on our front porch, where we have one nuc hive, and smelled the faint aroma of goldenrod honey being processing by the bees. Tonight Jessica asked me if I had been on the front porch and was there a chance that something had died underneath the porch. I said, smiling, no that’s goldenroad honey.

It’s a very odd smell the first time you experience it. Once you know what it is it’s quite pleasant and refreshing to know that they are bringing in food that will get them through the Winter. The honey is wonderful – well Kim and I think it’s wonderful. It doesn’t taste anything like it smells.

Our Fall is shaping up to be as busy as the Summer has been. Next weekend is our ‘Voices of Bee Culture’ event here in Medina. Mid October is Kim’s ‘Hardest Season’ class. In late October we are scheduled to go to London for one more visit to the National Honey Show. So we keep dancing as fast as we can and enjoying every minute of it.

We extend our thoughts, concern and prayers to all of the folks who have suffered during the two hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida. I have family and friends in both states, but as far as I know they are all safe with only minor things to deal with. Our own John Root and his wife, Elisabeth live in Sarasota and were able to weather the storm without any major damage or loss.

I hope you enjoy your Fall and are preparing your bees for Winter. Let’s hope it’s a mild one this year.