Sunday, June 26, 2011

quick bee check

The hived swarm (5 weeks) has 6 full combs now.  The nuc from last year is FULL of bees.  I checked them only because sometimes they seem less enthusiastic than the others.  I saw lots of capped brood and some open and closed them back up.

Saw the first graduating class on the swarm hive do their orientation flights.  :)

Waiting for the glass for the observation hive.  Need to drill a hole in the wall by Thursday, hopefully so I can install bees this weekend.

It's DRY.  The bees go out early and late, but I haven't figured out where.  It's getting dry enough now that I don't know if the sweet clover is producing nectar.  They're heading SW, so their hard to track.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Squash bug's final act.

This morning I used duct tape to pick off as many squash bug eggs and nymphs as I could find. Felt like sisyphus.
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Making Butter

We got a gallon of raw cream the other day to make butter so I thought I'd document my procedure.  I use a Bosch Universal mixer with the whips.  Put 1 quart of cream in the mixer.  It can be cold still, in fact, if it's too warm the butter will melt and be harder to separate from the "buttermilk" (not the same thing that you buy at the store.)  Most folks say to warm the cream, but with the Bosch it isn't necessary. I do let it set out for 5-10 minutes.

  If you put more than a quart of cream in at a time, when the butter separates it'll slosh around so much you'll have a big mess to clean up later.  So I did the gallon in 4 batches.  Cream is usually about half butter, so we get about 4 pounds of butter from a gallon of cream.  

So, you just let the mixer run on "1" for several minutes.  It passes through all the yummy whip cream stages.

At some point the butter will separate from the buttermilk. At this point, turn the machine off and just flip it to "1" briefly a couple times to get the butter into bigger clumps.

The picture below is how it should look when you're ready to pour off the buttermilk.  Pour it through a strainer and keep the buttermilk for pancakes or something.  Don't try to get the butter out yet though.  Next we want to wash the milk out of the butter.

To wash the butter I add cold water to the mixing bowl to about the same level as it was with the buttermilk, then pulse the machine several times. Our well water is cold enough, but if yours isn't, add some ice.  Then drain, then repeat.  I do this only 2 times and that seems to get the butter fairly clean.

Okay, now put all the butter in the strainer, then dump it all into a big bowl.  Don't try hard to get all the butter out of the mixer because the butter will help the next batch separate faster.  Now is the time to put the next quart of cream into the mixer and turn it on.  It will separate about the time you're done washing this batch.

The next goal is to get as much water out of the butter as possible.  I just tilt a bowl and smash the butter up against the high side.  The water will run down and you can dump it out occasionally.
Next, I put the butter on some wax paper and shape it into a long piece roughly the size of the usual butter sticks.

Then just wrap it up and throw it in the freezer.  If you're going to leave it in the fridge for a really long time rather than the freezer, you need to do a really good job of getting the buttermilk out and maybe even add salt.  I do neither, so I keep it in the freezer till we're ready to use it.
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Hived swarm at 4 weeks.

They've built out another comb in 2 weeks and brood still all looks good.  Just going to take a bit more for them to get large enough to really take off.  I really like taking these pictures and looking at them (high res).  I see eggs in the bottom pic that I couldn't see while I was out there.
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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Bee inspection

This morning I added a third deep to the 2 hives that were still at 2 boxes and checked in on the hive from the swarm.  I took a picture of each of the combs they had, front and back.  Three they drew themselves and one from the anchor.  Click for larger images.

On picture below the queen is left of the Q.  This is the comb I put in there and the bees should be hatching out soon which will give them lots more nurse bees.
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