Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Making Sourdough Pizza!

I have lots of sourdough starter and have been looking for ways to use it. I found a sourdough pizza recipe that uses up one whole starter! Sweet! I decided to give it a try!
I followed the recipe and let it rise. Then I put the pizza dough in a ziploc bag to make pizza the next day. Since the dough takes awhile to rise, it's best to start this in the morning or early afternoon if you want pizza for dinner. Or do as I did and put the dough in the fridge for the next day.
Rolled out the dough and added marinara sauce and cheese.
This came out soooooo good! The pizza didn't come out as crispy as I liked so I'll have to see if I can invest in a pizza stone. I'll definitely try this recipe again when I want to get rid of some of my sourdough starter. Do you use starter? What do you bake with it?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Frustrations of Urban Beekeeping

I love beekeeping, but sometimes it can be frustrating in an urban environment. Especially when you have neighbors that don't want you there. Two weeks ago, at my last inspection, I arrived to the backyard where I keep two of my hives. It's a beautiful yard, full of blooming flowers. I was getting ready to do an inspection, I started up the smoker. Only to be greeted by an angry neighbor behind the fence, screaming at me. In a very angry voice she was shouting at me to stop what I was doing and to not open the hives or continue with my inspection because she had guests in her backyard for a party. I was going to comply with her requests, and then she starts threatening to call the police on me. Upon which I stated, "Go ahead, call the police. My beehives are registered with the Department of Health. These hives are completely legal to own and have." I proceeded to tell her that she didn't have to scream at me in that manner and all she had to to was ask nicely to not do the inspection, and I would have complied. Apparently, she was stung by a bee the previous day, and now she feels scared of them. But how does she know they were my bees? And what if it was a yellowjacket, or wasp, or hornet? They all can be mistaken for honeybees. I now feel frustrated with having my hives here, if there is a chance that I will be accosted every time I show up for an inspection. I can tell she seems pretty unreasonable to talk to, since every time I tried to calm her down, she would talk over me loudly. People like that don't care that honeybees are an integral part of the eco-system, and that without them and their pollination, we wouldn't have the fruits and vegetables we consume.
Have you ever experienced something like this? It makes me really sad and start to rethink the location of this hive. Would I need to move it elsewhere? Somewhere where there are less neighbors perhaps? I have an upcoming inspection this Sunday. I'll have to see if I get into another verbal altercation with this neighbor. Hopefully, she has calmed down a bit. Fingers crossed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Forgotten Spring Photos

I downloaded photos off of my phone and found some I completely forgot to post on this blog. The photos show how amazing the spring flowers are in one of the gardens where we keep our beehives in Brooklyn. Don't these irises look amazing? I wonder if the honeybees like them.
Here's a view from another angle. Way in the back are the beehives.
A closeup of the irises. So pretty!
Closer to the hive are some blooming alliums. I just love these flowers. They remind me of cotton balls!
Here is our other beehive location. The fun part of this location is that we are always greeted by Oscar the kitty who lives at this location. He loves it when we are doing a beekeeping inspection. He watches us beekeep the entire time.
On this day, we also had to build our bee nucleus that we purchased. I've been wanting to raise bee nucleuses for awhile. I finally went ahead and ordered a kit.
And here is the nucleus completely built. It looks awesome! I can't wait to raise nucs!!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Heartbreaking Inspection

Last week, we installed two new bee nucleuses into 2 of our hives. Therefore, we were excited to do an inspection to check on the status of the installed nucs. A bee nucleus is a miniature hive that you can purchase instead of a bee package. It usually consists of 4 - 5 frames with a laying Queen, and the frames should contain brood, pollen, and honey. I just love the look of the old nuc frames next to the new bee frames in our new hive!
The new bee Nucleus is looking great, the Queen is laying well and there was pollen in the frames which meant they have been foraging well. However, what's not looking great is the green hive. For the 3rd week in a row, we've seen a pile of dead bees in front of the hive. It's completely heartbreaking. We think it's probably a poisoning of some sort, most likely pesticide spray. We thought by now that whatever the bees were exposed to would have gone away from all the rain we've been getting. But seeing this means they are still being afflicted. Not knowing who is spraying makes this incredibly frustrating. Because the bees are obviously feeding on sprayed plants.
We saw a lot of bees on their backs unable to flip themselves around.
I took this video of the honeybee on her back. When I pulled the cover, she was moving her legs trying to flip over, but she did not have the strength to do so.

I filmed the front entrance of the hive as well. The bees in the front were walking around disoriented and shaking their bodies. They don't normally act like this. It makes me extremely sad.

Here is the inside of the hive. More of the same strange behavior. The only thing we can really do is to wait and see if the bees can overcome this. Hopefully there are still enough worker bees in the hive to get all the tasks done in the beehive. Luckily, the Queen is still alive and laying well. Since she is still alive and healthy, we have hope the hive will bounce back. We had pesticide poisoning happen to our hives before in the past and the hive never recovered from it. The numbers dwindled and they didn't make it through the winter because there weren't enough of them to keep warm. Hopefully this is early enough in the season that the Queen will keep continuing to lay and the numbers will go up.

Next, we went to the other beehive location. Fortunately for us, the beehives are doing amazing. The Nucs have a couple of frames of nicely patterned brood. That means the Queen is laying really well. Look how beautiful this frame is.
Here is a closeup of another frame. This was full of bees, honey, and brood.
We spotted the Queen on another frame. This Nuc came with a marked Queen which makes it so easy to find her. None of our other hives comes with a marked Queen. Look how amazing she looks!
After we finished with the inspections, we headed over to the farmer's market which is a few blocks from the beehives. Our beehost told us that they had a farm vendor there that sold free range eggs for only $4 a dozen!  $4!!! What an amazing deal! The farmer's market near my apartment sells free range eggs for $6 a dozen, so this is a great bargain! You really can't beat fresh farm eggs from a local farm. Incredible!
Look at these beauties! Aren't they gorgeous? Now that I know where to find fresh eggs like that, I'll be stopping by here every time I go beekeeping from now on! Score!!! Great find!

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