Monday, December 19, 2011

December 2011 Newsletter

Stoltey's Bee Farm

December 2011 Newsletter

We are thrilled to bring you the very first edition of our newsletter! We've been in the bee business for quite a while around here, and we figure our customers might like to know a little more about where their honey comes from, and what day-to-day life is like on the farm. We love our work, and we think you'll find it as fascinating as we do. So read on, and get a little glimpse into the wild world of Stoltey's Bee Farm!

The Winter Hive
 Winter is a time for rest, even for the hardworking honey bee. Right now our bee colonies are entering a period of dormancy, during which they will form a tight cluster in order to stay warm. The queen will get some much needed rest and will stop laying eggs until it warms up. Since the queen will no longer be active, the drones, or male bees, are no longer needed and will be forced out of the hive by the rest of the female worker bees. Outside of the hive the drones will quickly die of exposure or starvation. It may sound a bit cruel to us, but their services are no longer needed, and the bees must carefully ration their stores of honey and pollen, which is often their only food in the winter.
Our job in the winter is to check on each hive to make sure that they are healthy, have enough honey to feed on until Spring, and that their boxes are able to provide sufficient protection from harsh winter weather. We are also in the process of moving many of our bees from locations in the North County down to a location in Nipomo, where it is often ten to twenty degrees warmer. There are also many eucalyptus trees in this location, which will hopefully be blooming soon and will provide the season's first nectar flow.

Busy as Bees
In between working with our bees, there are many other tasks that must be accomplished in the Winter to prepare for the busy Spring season. One such task is melting wax from old frames. This accomplishes two things: producing wax which we can make into foundation for new frames or sell, and sanitizing old frames so they are clean and ready for spring. Around here we consider ourselves a bit old-fashioned, and our wax melting process is definitely a reflection of that. Part of that process involves a 53 year old wax press which has unfortunately sprung a leak. Once we can get that welded back together, we will literally be spending weeks and weeks at the task of melting wax, which is a hot, messy, dangerous job. We hope to have a blog post up soon with pictures and details of our process. If things go well we may even have some candles to sell at market. This Spring we are planning on building a solar wax melter, to harness the power of the sun to do our dirty work!
Other winter tasks include cleaning out the barn, repairing bee boxes, fixing fences and other equipment, and generally getting the farm cleaned up and organized. We should have some new additions to our farm as well, such as a few litters of baby bunnies as well as some baby goats, which could be here as soon as February!

A note on the downtown SLO “Farmers Market”
Many of you have probably seen us at the downtown SLO Farmers Market on Thursday evenings for years and years, and we appreciate your business and loyal support. Unfortunately the city just passed some regulations which almost caused us to have to drop out of the market altogether, a fate which some other small farms have already resigned to. That market in particular has become a large financial burden to the smaller farms, whereas it used to be an excellent opportunity. Due to the new regulations, we can no longer have hired help at the market, so Paul himself will be making the journey alone or with his wife Jean. Paul has been raising bees for 53 years, and with decades of hard labor and age comes the inevitable slowing down, so we appreciate your patience and continued support.

Oh Honey...
We will continue to bring the ever popular orange blossom honey to markets as long as our supplies last. In addition, the near future will bring some Mountain Floral as well as a blend of Sage and Buckwheat. Don't forget honey makes a wonderful gift during the holiday season!

Bee Facts:Did you know that one honey bee will only produce about 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in it's lifetime, and only 1/80 teaspoon of wax? However, an entire colony can produce up to 200lbs of honey annually!

Recipe: Vegetables with Spicy Honey Peanut Sauce
½ cup honey, ¼ cup peanut butter, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro, 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes, 4C broccoli florets, 4C sliced carrots, 4C snow peas, 6C cooked rice or quinoa

Combine honey, peanut butter, soy sauce, cilantro and red pepper in small bowl; mix well and set aside. Steam veggies until slightly tender and drain well. Toss steamed veggies with sauce in large bowl and serve immediately over rice or quinoa!

Finally we would like to say Merry Christmas 
and Happy New Year!

And  please check out our facebook page! If you like us, then “like” us!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Honey Facts #1

All natural raw honey will solidify with temperature differences spanning from high to low. If you place honey in a window sill, in sunlight, this will help keep it liquefied.  Inside the bee cluster of the hive, the temperature is approximately 94 degrees. Honey never spoils! Once honey is crystallized, take a pan of  water and bring it almost to a boil. Take the pan off the heat, and place the jar of honey in the hot water. Repeat as necessary, until honey is fully liquefied. Please do not microwave your honey! This will in effect pasteurize it, taking away all of the raw, natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes etc. The beneficial properties of honey are destroyed at temperatures above 120 degrees.