Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Land of Eggs and Honey
     We have a problem; too many eggs.
     We can't eat more than one a day each, in whatever form -- they're just too rich -- and the girls are out-laying us.  We'll have to take the excess to the folks who give us salmon.  Poor us.

     The eggs are color coded; the two pale yellow-green (bottom left, top right) are from White.  The large pale brown (lower right) is Black's.  Red lays the dark red with white speckles (upper left).  Black's eggs are the richest -- but she's by far the fattest.  Lift her up and feel the rolls of blubber and all you'll think of is duck-style-roasted chicken.
      After feeding them for a year, was thinking of just buying grown layers next time, but now realizing the rich feeding while they're growing up is what's making them good layers, despite their youth and the season of winter.  We've discovered a source of great calcium; dried-out sea-urchin and crab shells from the beach.  It's where we get the good grit, too, with the addition of sea minerals.  Fat hen + loads of calcium = loads of fat eggs.  Well, d'uh.
     Speaking of feeding animals right to get a return: after years of thinking and research, finally bought a beehive from Sunny Farms.  It has two fully-framed brood bodies and a honey body.  All the amateur -- and I do mean "WTF are we doing?" amateur -- beekeepers up here are listening to me when I tell 'em NOT to feed the bees crappy sugar and corn-syrup to get them through the winter.  Hello?  Colony Collapse Syndrome?  The bees are having enough trouble without being given crummy ersatz food.  Or, to quote, "Thou shall not muzzle the ox that treads the corn," if you need something from that antique-science book. The local Olympic Grays ("Pioneer" bees from Caucasian stock brought in by white settlers over a century ago and gone feral) are pumping out honey and white wax -- from the Douglas Firs, would you believe! -- like little machines.   One keeper has over 100 pounds of honey on one hive. Imagine what fir honey tastes like.  If you like pine-nuts....  At least I'm imagining it; nobody's tasted it yet.  
     My hive is actually painted; I found some neutral base, so the hive can have that nice raw-wood look and still be protected.  I'm not going to buy bees; I'm going to ask one of the local keepers if I can put one of my hive bodies next to his until we get a swam to inhabit it.  Maybe offer him some eggs.

2 comments:

Glenn said...

Donna,

Honeybees aren't native here. Artifical feeding in the spring with a new hive really is necessary. I'd recommend sugar syrup rather than corn syrup though.

As for the winter, yeah, I'm with you, leave 'em enough of their own honey to get through. The pros take most or all and replace with syrup 'cause honey sells for way more per pound than cost of syrup; and they're in it for the money.

Colony collapse is more likely due to toxin build-up from commercial orchard pollinators and the fact the bees used as pollinators from monocrop ag.

This is based on my own experience. I didn't give my own new bees enough syrup last spring. The Carnelians survived, but the Minnesotans didn't. The spring of the first year is critical because most of they're energy/nectar is going into wax production. So the first year's surplus honey is real low. That and last summer was abnormaly dry and nectar output was really low.

Glenn

The Clark Family said...

I bet evergreen-scented honey would be great! Kind of like the fir-grappa, or spruce tip beers I've tasted.