Saturday, August 17, 2013

The summertime buzz...

This summer has been a big one so far here at Honey Pie world headquarters.  We opened our new farm store which meant a lot of farm beautification.  We finally finished the outside of our basement which is where our workshop and store are.  It was exposed insulated concrete forms for a few too many years.  This photo shows what it looked like with only the last bit of exposed wall.  It's near the porch and is white with vertical black stripes.  We parged the walls with two coats of lime cement plaster.  This is the first coat.  Next I painted a sign to let people know where we are.  No more being a secret location for us.  It was very exciting the day we actually installed the sign at the end of our lane.  My honey man
sat on top of our van to attach it to the posts.  People keep telling us our sign is too small and they drive right by so we've added a couple of flags to it.  I think I'll make the whole thing bigger one day but for now it's going to have to be enough.  It's been fascinating to see how many people find us anyway.  
We are very touched by the concern that our visitors show for the situation with the bees.  The question on everyone's lips is, "What's happening with the bees?"  We wish we could answer this question but it's a complicated situation.  There has been a lot of media attention on the bees this year and we struggle to keep up with all the information that is out there.  We know that GMOs are not a good thing for bees.  Neither are pesticides.  In Europe there has been a two year ban on neonicotinoid chemicals in order to see if the bees recover.  My feeling is that this isn't long enough to see a full recovery.  If you support the ban of neonicotinoids here's a petition to sign.  Here's another one from Elizabeth May.  We have suffered unusually high winter losses this past year and Gavin has worked very hard to build our hive numbers up again.  We don't know exactly where our bees go but we are careful to position them on farms that are not using GMOs or pesticides.  We can only hope that the bees find enough flowers nearby and don't have to venture into dangerous territory. 

We went to my sister's wedding in Vermont this summer and had a great time with our family.  On an excursion to Brattleboro one day I found this amazing product called Fire Cider.  I love the label art!  It's apple cider vinegar with ginger, horseradish, chilies, garlic and I think some other stuff infused into it.  You take a shot in a glass of water when you're feeling a cold coming on.  If that doesn't chase away a cold I don't know what will!  Vermont has a long tradition of using apple cider vinegar to treat colds and all sorts of ailments.  I didn't buy it because I decided to try making some myself.  I've been using apple cider vinegar in this way for years but never thought of infusing all these other herbs into it.  It's funny because I've been making drinking shrubs for a local restaurant - Agrarian Speakeasy in Bloomfield this year.  I soak fruit, herbs or veggies in vinegar and sugar to make a sweet and tart syrup for cocktails.  The most popular one is rhubarb and ginger in apple cider vinegar.

New this year is a Health Canada ban on citronella in bug spray.  We think this is junk science but are forced to comply.  We've made a new recipe using lavender, cedar, eucalyptus and lemongrass.  It smells great and it works!

We have a brand new tea called Lavender Tea.  I've had a lot of requests for a tea with lavender in it so I came up with this formula which I think is delicious.  I've been enjoying it iced.  It's made with lavender, oat straw, lemon verbena, and mallow.  Oat straw is very tasty and high in calcium.


 We've been harvesting honey a lot although it looks like we won't have as much honey this year as we had hoped.  This is a frame of capped honey just about to be uncapped and spun in the extractor.  The lavender honey harvest is in and on the shelves at our farm store, the Brickworks and Green Barns farmers markets in Toronto and at the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm.
We even have a new parking sign - things are getting so official around here.  In this photo you can see the finished parging on the basement.  It looks like it's always been there now. 

 I'm still photographing bees but I don't limit myself to honey bees now. This is a beautiful bumble bee snuggling into a foxglove flower.