Posts Tagged honey

We have some honey for honey cake

Neil recently took some honey from a well established bee hive, so for the first time for a long time we have some honey.  Here he is with our friend Emma in their bee suits after moving some bees.

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So I decided to make a honey cake as I’d not made one for a long time, here is the recipe.

HONEY CAKE RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 170g/6oz clear honey
  • 140g/5oz butter
  • 85g/3oz light muscovado sugar (or I have used dark brown coconut sugar)
  • eggs, beaten
  • 200g/7oz self raising flour, sieved (I used wholemeal self raising flour)
  • water

Preparation method

1.      Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 3 and butter and line the bottom of a 7in/18cm cake tin.

2.      Measure the honey, butter and sugar into a large pan. Add a tablespoon of water and heat gently until melted.

3.      Remove from the heat and mix in the flour.

4.      When fully mixed, add the beaten eggs and mix well

5.      Spoon into the cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake is springy to the touch and shrinking slightly from the sides of the tin.

6.      Cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack.

7.      If required you can make icing as follows:

For the icing

8.      While the cake is still warm, make the icing by mixing the sugar and honey together with 2-3 teaspoons of hot water. Trickle over the cake.  This dries as a honey crust on the cake.

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My cake was very dark brown because of the dark brown coconut sugar I used.  It made a really delicious cake.

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Guests at our B&B get offered tea and cake if they arrive in the afternoon, so if you want to try our honey cake come and stay with us. http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

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Collecting the Honey

It was the right time to year for Neil to collect the honey from his strongest hive.  He had put 3 supers on to give them plenty of room to store the honey.  But when he looked they had only filled the frames in 2 supers.  He donned his new all-in-one suit to collect the frames.

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(That’s shadow on his face, he has not grown a moustache!!)

Yesterday we set to spinning the frames.  First he uncapped them one by one.

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Then two at a time he put them in the spinner. Centrifugal force pushes the honey out and it is collected in large jar below, first going through a sieve to collect any wax.

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It’s wonderful to see the golden liquid collecting in the jar.

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Then it has to be poured into jars and weighed to get exactly one pound in weight that is 454g.  That was my job.

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We got quite a haul.  The jars are just waiting for their labels to be printed and then we will be ready to sell some.  It will be £6.00 a jar.  Don’t forget this is an expensive premium product, not mass produced, hence the cost. All proceeds go back into care of the bees.

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visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Free-bees and honey too!

Neil is a swarm contact for the Taunton Beekeepers and last week he took a phone call from a lady in Wambrook near Chard, who said she had a hive of bees she wanted to get rid of.  They had belonged to her Father in Law and he had become indisposed and was no longer able to care for them.  They were near the house and her daughter was afraid to go into the garden because of them.  So Neil duly went over to investigate and what he found was a strong hive of bees and a super full of frames of honey.  It was really heavy so he brought back the super first and then went back for the brood box and then put the hive back together down by our woods.

Next he put an excluder on so the bees could vacate the honey rich super but not get back in.  Then in the evening he went down to remove the honey heavy frames and bring them up to the house.

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Yesterday we extracted the honey from the frames.  First Neil uncapped the frames.

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Then we put 2 frames at a time into the honey spinner, where centrifugal force means the honey is flung out of the frames into the spinner.  Neil put a drill on the handle to get it to spin faster than if we turned it by hand.

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We then opened the tap at the bottom and let the honey flow out through a sieve to catch any wax and into a honey bucket.

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Of course we got a bit sticky in the process and had to keep licking our fingers!!!  Mmmm – delicious.

The cappings we put into a strainer bag and let the honey from them drip through.

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The last job was to pour the strained honey into jars.  We just did a few today, and gave a jar each to our 2 neighbours and one to a friend. We shall take a jar to the lady who gave us the bees.  I’m not sure we will have loads of it but it is gorgeous and viscous and quite dark and of course to us it was free!

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If you want honey on your toast at our B&B visit us at http://www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

or look us up at  http://www.Facebook.com/LodgeHouseBandB

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RIP Bees

We  have lost 2 hives of bees.  When I say lost, I don’t mean we have mislaid them, I mean they have died.

Three weeks ago on a sunny Sunday, we could see the bees flying from all three hives.  Then gradually this movement slowed down in hives 1 and 2, until last Monday we could see no movement.  So Neil donned his bee suit and went to investigate.  In hive 1 there was nothing, no bees at all, and in hive 2 there was a mass of dead bees.

A mass of dead bees

So Neil spoke to the bee inspector and sent over some pictures, and the bee inspector said it was most likely that the bees had died because of the varrora mite.  Last year, when these 2 hives were inspected, varrora mite was found.  So Neil treated the hives with thymol which is supposed to kill the varrora mite, but it would seem that with the Spring the varrora became active again and the bees just didn’t have the number or the resistance to survive the mites.

Neil was really disappointed and felt quite despondent when he discovered this.  But unfortunately it is something that sometimes happens to bees, and the bee inspector himself had lost 5 hives out of 30, so it’s not just us.

We are thinking that maybe we will buy another nucleus of bees to replace the dead ones, but firstly the hives need clearing out, all the frames destroyed and the hives themselves fumigated and sterilised.

I don’t think you go into beekeeping to make money!!.  Whilst we still have some honey to sell and some to serve to our B&B guests, we obviously hope to produce more this year, and so we will have to pay out over £120 for a new nucleus of bees.

Life in the country eh!!!

Visit us at www.lodgehousebandbsomerset.co.uk

 

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Bee Inspection

Today Neil was visited by the Defra Bee Inspector who came to have a look through Neil’s hives to check for disease and advise on any issues Neil had.  Neil and he spent 2 hours going through the hives, taking them apart and checking the brood chambers to ensure they were healthy.  Hives no 1 and no 2 have some verrora in them. This is a blood sucking mite that attacks the bees.  After Neil has taken the honey off he will then treat these hives with Apiguard to rid them of the verrora. 

Hive no 3 is a very healthy and busy hive, which is storing away quite a bit of honey, which we will take off soon.  The bee inspector advised Neil to split this hive, as there is a viable queen cell on one of the frames, which means the bees are making a new queen.  If Neil removes this frame and puts it into a new hive along with some of the bees, when the new queen emerges, hopefully she will form a new colony.

Neil was also advised to put a small colony into a smaller hive to over winter it, thus ensuring they stay warm during the winter and hopefully will survive the cold weather. He also advised feeding it to build up stores for the winter.

It’s always useful to have another pair of eyes to look through the hives and have someone more experienced to answer any questions.  With beekeeping you are learning all the time.

The Bee Inspector relaxes with a cup of tea 2nd Aug 2011

Here is Simon the Bee Inspector enjoying a well earned cup of tea and piece of honey cake after spending 2 hours looking through the hives in the sunshine today.

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