Saturday, June 25, 2016

Honey (and more) from The Second Garden

It was a bad year for my bees. All five hives, three in San Francisco and two in Nevada County didn't make it through the winter. And it was a bit of a rough start this spring, as well. Starting up 4 hives was a lot and in April I was running around between my three locations in Sunnyside and teaching full time. I was worried something was going to have to give.  Somehow I and the bees made it! Although one of the hives had queen problems. I noticed supercedure cells (emergency queen cells) when inspecting the hive the second week after settling them in.  I waited a few days before checking on them again and by then it was quite clear that the queen wasn't laying well, if at all. So I ordered a new queen (you can order a single bee by overnight mail!) and after a week of worry, the hive accepted the new queen.  Now they're thriving like my other three, though they're about a month behind in terms of honey production.
Two hives in The Garden, two in two different neighbor's gardens
Next week I plan on my first harvest of the summer. It won't be much, I'll be happy if I can get 10 lbs out of them.  But its just a start.  If all goes well, I'll be harvesting every two weeks for a couple of months and will be able to satisfy most of the appetites of friends and neighbors for local honey! Crossing my fingers, I'm letting people know now that I will have honey for sale on Wednesday, June 29th, at my usual time of  4:30 - 6:00 in The Garden.

Even if the bees aren't ready to give me any honey, I'll be here, the gate open, with lotion, lip balm, soup, and Garden tours.  We may be able to check out The Tower
as well. Currently no one is scheduled to be in it Wednesday.

And- The Garden Bazaar was a great success last year, so I'd like to do it again. I've picked July 30th as the day so please save the date.  An official announcement will happen soon. Once again we'll have music, food, face painting, neighborhood garden bounties, and crafts to share, buy and trade.
Carter and Lena modeling bracelets Lena sold at last year's bazaar
If you have anything you would like to barter, sell or share, please let me know.  The more the merrier!

If I don't see you next week, some Honey Sale soon.  Until then, stay sweet!

Love the slo mo!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Hive - Some creative writing by Lena Hartsough

Here is an assignment Lena did for school. It was inspired by our recent hive installations.  Lena is a great help in all of my beekeeping activities.

New Hive
by Lena Hartsough
One of the four hives in it's delivery box that I installed this spring.

We are all together. In a space and all clumped as if a swarm. But our-Queen is not there. There is a Queen, but she is not our-Queen. We are moved, but the clump stays together. There are barriers all around us, like a hive, but trapping. There are no ways to stretch our wings or fly. We are angry at the not- our-Queen, for she is unfamiliar and will not help us. We try to get to her, to sting her and rip at her wings and head. We cannot reach her through the small-barrier-hive that is around her. We stay in our barrier-hive, trapped, for a long time. There is nectar for us, but it is not nectar. It is nearly tasteless.
Then the nectar-that-is-not-nectar is taken away. There is an opening, but before we get to it, it is covered. The not-our- Queen is taken away too. Then our clump in the barrier-hive is moved. We are put into more barriers and the opening is uncovered. There are more barriers above us, with the not-our- Queen in her small-barrier-hive.
Over the next lights and darks, we get out of the barrier- hive, and find the big-sky through a small opening in the other barriers. We continue trying to sting the not-our-Queen, but her smell is nice. We need a Queen, and the not-our-Queen is a Queen. Maybe she can be our Queen. But we still cannot reach her through the small-barrier-hive.
Separated from her sisters...

The not-our-Queen is taken away. We are angry. She would have become our-Queen. We fly and try to sting, and the not-our-Queen is brought back. Now the small-barrier-hive has squishy-nectar-solid instead of one of the barriers. We chew through it, and the not-our-Queen comes out. She is our-Queen now, and we will protect her and love her, as a hive does.

Safe in their new home...

And if you've ever wondered how a new hive settles into their new home, Lena also wrote this up as part of her assignment:

When a beekeeper gets a new hive, the bees come in a box with a frame of wood and sides made out of screens. Three pounds of bees are in this box, which amounts to around ten thousand insects. The queen is in a very small box with screens forming the walls, and for the first four days or so the hive has an instinct to kill her, as they see her as an intruder and a threat to the hive. A can of sugar water is inside the bee box, acting as a stopper, and from this the bees get their nutrition.

When the beekeeper is ready to put the bees into their new home, they take out the can and place some sort of cardboard or scrap of wood on top of the opening to keep the bees from all getting out at once. The box containing the queen is taken out and strapped in between two frames inside a hive box with rubber bands. Frames are made of wood, and sometimes contain a plastic center that has the shape of honeycomb. The bees use them to line with beeswax and then fill with honey.

There are two ways to get the rest of the bees into the new hive: The beekeeper can shake the bee box over the hive box that contains the queen until most of the bees have fallen into the hive, or the bee box can be placed inside a second hive box, this one empty of frames. The box with the queen in it is stacked on top of that box. The next day, the beekeeper takes out the lower box, as most of the bees have climbed into the upper box.

After another couple of days, the bees have gotten used to the queen’s smell, and accept her as their queen. The beekeeper replaces the cork in the queen’s box with marshmallow, and the bees are able to chew through it and get their queen out.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shana Tova, Or Shalom!

The Second Garden will be back at our regular scheduled time and place, this next Wednesday, September 2nd, 4:30 - 6pm for the second of three fundraisers.  This one is for Or Shalom Jewish Community and comes just in time for Rosh Hashanah. Please come to The Garden for your honey (or lotion, got lots!), and support a very special community.  It's where Carter and Lena were called to the Torah! It's a place as sweet as honey!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School Honey Fundraiser a Great Success!

Following up on the fun of The Garden Bazaar, The Second Garden, Sugarplop Jams, and Brodie and Frankie's Love Bites had the first of three fundraisers yesterday.  Over 50 people visited the bees of The Garden and went home with some honey.  In doing so they helped to support 9 different schools! Denman, Miraloma, SF Community, K9 Comrades, SOTA, Sunnyside, Glen Park, Lowell, and Glenridge Coop each got a piece of the $387 raised!

Me and Candace

Ajaccio helps pour honey for his family

Thank you Candace for hanging out in the heat of The Garden with me raising money with your yummy jams and dog treats, Lena for helping make all the wonderful beeswax products with me, Adena for hosting one of my bee hives and giving up half a day to help me extract all the honey for the fundraiser, and Bill for taking these wonderful pictures.

I took this picture 

At the end of the day, all I had left were two packages of honeycomb and a few of the gift sizes of honey. I still have lots of lotion for sale, and the bees are busy making more honey for September 2nd when we raise money for Or Shalom Jewish Community, so I'm looking forward to another successful fundraiser.

Until then, stay sweet! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More Honey Fundraising!

Local honey that tastes good - and does good!

Last year I held three fundraisers in The Garden (you can check out my post from last year).  This year I'm doing it again with one small change.

Last summer we raised $333 for 3 different organizations: Denman Middle School PTSA, the National MS Society, and Or Shalom Jewish Community.  This time the school fundraiser will be for whatever school you want to donate to!

If you enjoyed The Garden Bazaar (if you were there, I know you did!), please come out and support The Second Garden in our fundraising efforts:

August 15, Noon - 4 pm, Back to School Fundraiser
When you come on August 15 and purchase honey, just tell me which school you want the donation made to and 50% of that sale will go to your school. Denman and SOTA get favored school status.  100% of the sale will go to these schools if you select one as your school!
The Garden Bazaar was such a hit, there may be just a little of that flavor on this day.

September 2, 4:30 - 6 pm, Or Shalom Jewish Community
Get your honey for the new year and support a wonderful synagogue -

September 13, 11 am - 3 pm, National MS Society
Another Second Sunday Brunch event. Instead of a potluck, guests are asked to bring a donation.  Further support The National MS Society by buying some honey and 100% goes to sponsor our team, people in purple for the National MS Society's Waves to Wine ride.  Waves to Wine is a two day fundraising bike ride. Our whole family will be riding 90 miles to help bring an end to this terrible disease.
My mother struggled with multiple sclerosis for many years.  When she passed, we formed our team in honor of her, the lady in purple, from the play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf which she produced, directed and starred in when she was forced to retire because of MS.

The Garden is right next to the Sunnyside Conservatory on Monterey Blvd.  Bring a jar for $1 off your honey.  Hope to see you at one or more of these special honey sales.

Until then, stay sweet!  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Join me for a hive inspection!

Get up close and personal with my bee hives!

This Saturday, July 25th, I am inviting 3 lucky people to join me in a routine hive inspection.  We'll check on the health of the hives (one I already know isn't doing well :( - but I've ordered a new queen) and remove one or more frames of honey for later extraction. Afterwards we'll share some mead and honey that we just worked to remove from the hive! This is not a class. Just a chance to hang out with the bees, and see what a typical inspection is like. A donation of $25 will be greatly appreciated! 

I have 3 veils, but no other protective gear.  Inspite of what you may have seen on TV or YouTube, a body suit is really not necessary.  Some bee keepers do their bee keeping in shorts and a t-shirt! I think that's asking for trouble, so I always wear my veil, gloves and long shirt and pants.  When I have gotten stung through my clothes, it's not really a proper sting. Her stinger gets stuck in my clothes and not my skin.  Still hurts, but not as much, doesn't swell nearly as much, or last as long as a sting directly on the skin. 

So if you are one of the lucky few to join me, wear long sleeves and pants, closed toed shoes, and bring gloves (garden gloves would be great).

If you are interested in joining me, leave a comment or email me ( If this is successful I'll do it again sometime soon.