Archive for the ‘honey’ Category

thought it might be fun to film the bees enjoying their tribute today. many people say not to do this as it can encite robbing and fighting amongst the bees. i hope this video shows that this is not the case with my bees. they have a riotous, joyful time and the house bees waiting for them in the hive are just vibrating when they receive the honey from the forager bees! i can not only sense through seeing their behaviors, my own being vibrates and glows right along with them! i realize that laying out these combs like this invites other creatures big and small and would not be able to safely do this in a more rural setting. as it is, i put up the frames at dark and re-give them during the daylight hours. i have done this for several years without mishap. something you would have to decide for yourself if you chose to feedback honey the way i do it. i let them be like the bear and glut their fill before winter and then offer it to them this way again in the spring, to help strengthen them. i consider it a gentle, organic way to feed my bees.  enjoy, they and i most certainly did!


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Today is simply a gorgeous day! The sun is strong, the winds mild and just a sprinkle of rain once in awhile. I did go out this morning and say hello to the world. Patted our maples, noted a darling pine sapling that must be relocated next summer. She is two now and strong enough to handle the move well. Also noted the things i can get a last harvest of and jotted down the things that would need divided and shared with others. I have to get back outside before tomorrow and “weed out” (not a phrase i am found of), a few more of our prolific violet friend. A couple of years ago i went around and transplanted violets all around our little pond and she loves it there! She keeps popping up anew and i might actually get a few more leaves of new growth to save and use. She reminded me of herself today while i was organizing the cabinets. There she was time and time again. In jellies in the food pantry, and in the medicinal cabinet as well. Not to mention she has been replicated through art in many of my everyday usage items like teacups etc. I wandered to the back of comfrey cottages gardens to say hello to the bees and to bring them a gift. I had a hive not make it last winter and i am certain it was due to them getting too wet in the fall,and not disease. i had saved back all their brood box frames that had honey in them. A good idea to always save back such honey as a rule, in case your bees need the honey fed back to them. I fed them back two of these frames today just for fun really. Oh, it will used by them, for certain, but i had fed them back the honey super that was just full of mostly uncapped nectar over the course of this last week, so i really don’t think they are light on winter foods. I did it just to share the joy of sunlight with them and to pay homage to them. I love my beautiful sunshine bees. They are in for another treat soon as i strained off some lemon balm honey and i have a plate of the strained balm and i am going to go out and share that with them when i am through with this post!

So, i suppose i should have been outside more today but i chose to open the windows wide and pull aside all the curtains and straighten my various cabinets before i got to work on a few things that needed done.

This is the cabinet i store mainly the dry herbs, roots etc.



and in the bottom of it i store the kitchen appliances and tools like the sprouted. all the dried beans, grains, flours etc plus the seeds for sprouts


this cabinet is mainly for the herbs and things i use for culinary reasons, foods as medicine reasons, smudging, and glycerites, vinegars, etc etc you get the idea


that is my beekeeper suit hanging on the door there. plus lily’s little blue apron:)

to the left on the cat ledge, violet joy supervised. the milk jugs on the floor are kept refilled and the lid left off of them so the chlorine can evaporate. cats are healthier with dechlorinated water. we almost lost of kitty earl of eight a couple of times before i discovered that trick! now he is thriving and healthy.


and the yellow cabinet. this has all the jars full of herbal oils and tinctures waiting to be used and to be stores in some of the containers you see. this cabinet has alot of containers and also where i keep the seeds i have collected for next year. i found this cool metal cabinet for a real deal at 10 dollars. the downside was the paint the peeps had on it just smelled foul, so hubby and i stripped it and he repainted it one of my favorite colors:)



and david gould, my friend, if you will note the bag hanging to the left of the screen, it is the wonderful bakery bag you gave me last christmas. big hugs to you and liz:)


now that i have taken the time to sort out from the helter skelter of summer, and organize, i can work more efficiently and know what just i do and don’t have on hand.  the whole experience was just grand with the sun shining through the windows, the breeze gently carrying the scent of the outdoors and our pine, and the whole aromatherapy experience of being immersed in dozens of herbal and spice smells at once… well i was just giddy i swear!

this is a picture of the lemon balm honey and the hops and honey straining.  i feel so empowered making lovely, healthy things for myself and my family and close friends. i am certain this hops infused honey will be a great treat and benefit for someone this winter with bronchitis. and the lemon balm will be a special joy on some wintery day when someone is feeling a bit blue or non vibrant. i am thinking it will be a great benefit to one who is in the process of recovering their strength from illness also.

the next cabinet has my microwave on top of it, but the drawers and cabinet is used for mainly my canning things. I am a bit ocd in always sterilizing every container, even when they are not going to be used specifically for canning foods.



this taking time to organize and take stock has really helped me already, while in the process of doing it. i managed to strain off some honeys, catch an awesome herbal buzz through all my senses and feel some satisfaction with my learning process this year, as many of the herbs in the herbal cabinet and on the seed shelf are the results of my own gardening or wild harvesting this year. i love my wild harvest friends val and katee:)

my lovely val shared some pears with me last sunday. I have been eating a few but they were going soft quickly so decided to make a nice pear jelly which i infused with star anise, cinnamon, and tarragon. very nice! did the trick of replacing some of the juice and sugar in the recipe with honey again and really love the results:)

well i am off to check on the bees and offer them the strained lemon balm:) i have a friend stopping by at 6 to get some of my feverfew to try for her headaches. I am going to offer her a healing touch session as the same time so i must go rest up a bit too!

herbal and honey blessings and hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages. and please do share your pics of where you store your things sometime! i love to have visuals when i am sending blessings to you all:)

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Fig Poultices for Breast Health
jessica and katee, i hope you both see this:)

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In our neck of the woods, Fulton Co. Illinois, we have our Scenic Drive on the first and second weekends of October. Even though it was a bit rainy and gloomy on Saturday, my hubby and I decide to venture out to a few of the surrounding communities.  My husband and I always particularly enjoy Mt. Pitsgah. There are quite a few Native American vendors and activities there.


my hubby ordering a buffalo burger


and some of the Native American’s were drumming, which always touches me

Yesterday, which ended up being the pretty day, found me in the kitchen, processing the wild plums Katee and I had harvested earlier. Aren’t they pretty? Well, they might be pretty but next to impossible to peal and de-pitt without loosing most of the fruit, so after muddling through with that through about 6 plums, (I waste no time when I see something is fruitless to continue!), decide to throw them all in the pot with a bit of water and just let them cook down!


so instead of the original plan of jam, I changed to jelly! lol  after letting them cook until all the skins had separated, I gave them a thorough mashing and into the jelly bags the lot went!


Note the three pretty carnations at the sink. My dear granddaughter Lily left those in my vehicle Saturday, saying they were just to show she loved me! awww

I used one package of sure jell, 4 cups of the wild plum juice and 1 cup of apple/grape juice mixture, 3 1/2 cups sugar and 1 cup of honey. I really wanted to make jam as I knew how I wanted to do that with absolutely no extra sugars added, but… this is what I came up with for the jelly. The 1 cup of honey in place of 1 cup of sugar seems to have done well, so I might try substituting 2 cups of honey next time, and oh, since the honey counts a liquid also, I reduced the juice by 1 cup also.


24 hours later and all looks well. All the jars seem well sealed and it looks as if the ratios must have worked as it is well set!!


Was this worth the fact that soooo many things didn’t get done due to the time invested in gathering and preparing these lovely jellies? Well, the time spent in the wild with nature and Katee was priceless. Getting to work with a new wild gathered food, priceless again! Luckily it is pretty nice out today so maybe after Dylan goes home I can get the supers off the beehives as we had a light, patchy frost last nite. Then hopefully some last minute herb trimming and hanging to dry. Crazy gardening year! My tomatillos are so lovely and swollen but I imagine I won’t get a ripe one before a hard frost. Just last month the bees were busy pollinating them. I have heard from many gardeners that they too had bounty on some things, and famine on others. I am thankfully to have experienced this wild harvest though and will gladly sacrifice the tomatillos in exchange for her bounty with the wild plums!

Big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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white aster aster

so yesterday i played nanny/granny to dylan all day. at 3 we went to meet lily and evan, and breven and brodie, as dylan had not seen them for awhile. after letting them all play awhile,  i brought dylan to his house and lily came home with me for for some private mama time. when i brought her home around 6 i was itching to be outside some more. lily and i had worked on closing up most of the ventilation holes on the hives and blocking the wind from the underneath sides. it has been getting so cool at nite. well, i decided to just drive out west of town and see what i could see. i soon spied some lovely native aster growing. now the bees LOVE asters, and i thought cool, think i will stop and dig some up to transplant. so i get out and get my shovel (i always carry a shovel lol)  and was happily digging an aster up, when a county police car pulls up behind me with his lights on! he gets out and asks me what i am doing. i tell him i am digging up a native aster. he looks at me weird, talks in his shoulder microphone and then asks me again what i am doing, but this time with a look of confusion. i say”i am digging up a native aster to transplant into my yard. i am a beekeeper and i just thought i would bring my bees home a present as they love asters.” he still looks a bit confused, but talks in his shoulder mic again and then says, well for me to be careful as it is a busy road, and he gets in his cruiser and departs! afterwards, while driving back to town it occured to me why he had shown up lights ablazing…. without thinking about it i had chose to go digging within site of the guard towers of our local prison! i wonder if they thought i was going to dig a tunnel?! lol hmmmm wonder what they will think tomorrow when my friend val and i go just a bit further up that hill to harvest sunchokes!!!lol

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages!

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the right side of the pic is a plant i was really hoping would show up! angelica! i like to stick to working with herbs that are either indigenous to my area or those easily grown here in central illinois.  to the left of the angelica is black cohosh, which is a native species here. i had planted these angelica seeds in this spot, near the black cohosh, way back last spring. well we had such torrential rains on and off all spring and i never saw a thing growing where the angelica was planted, aside from some grass, that i thought they had washed away. imagine my surprise and delight when they finally appeared within the last month! i have always wanted to grow angelica. such a lovely name, and such a history of culinary and medicinal uses angelica has. anti-inflammatory properties, lowers fevers and acts as an expectorant, digestive disorders and bowel complaints are some of the medicinal uses for angelica. for culinary purposes the stems may be candied, cooked with rhubarb, tart fruits and berries to reduce acidity.  and many other lovely way. plus the leaves and seeds are aromatic and may be used in pot-pourris.

such a weird year weather wise, with much more rain than usual, and much cooler temps also. hopefully these plants will overwinter well and i can transplant them to a couple spots in my gardens next spring! i have been quite alot of second flush blooms with these wetter, and cooler days also. i had some echinacea, beebalm, st. john’s wort, verbenas, feverfews, etc put out some lovely second displays of flowers recently!

big herbal and honey hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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So it has been nearly a month since I havested honey and bottled some up. Due to all the family things, printer problems, problems finding proper paper here in our little town, etc. etc. I Have just today been able to properly work on the labels. What do you think?


I would have liked to put raw and organic on my label, but since the harvest is just going to be used by family and friends, I thought this was busy enough! If I were ever going to sell honey though, I would have to explore the laws on adding those two descriptive labels to see if I could qualify to use them. I don’t see why not as the honey is raw and organic, but who knows, and anyway, not an issue right now anyway!lol

So Lisa, aka Hootie, my dear sweet patient friend, the next stop is the post office to send you a properly labeled bottle as your prize in my blog giveaway last month! Sorry to be late dear! I am so very excited about this label! I just love the pic of the sweet bee and the comfrey flower! I am so excited in fact, that if any of you would like to leave a comment , I want to pick another name to give another bottle to!  Drawing Friday!

Thanks to all of you who have shown me such support and well wishes through all this! Big herbal and sticky honey hugs to you all!

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Happy Little Honey Bears!

started bottling honey yesterday. just thrilled with the color and taste of this years harvest!



to celebrate i want to offer one of these little cuties as a giveaway! just leave a comment on this post and i will have lily draw a name out of the hat on friday! thanks to all of you for your support and for visiting comfrey cottages! big herbal hugs to all of you! 🙂

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whoo whoo! starting the honey harvest! below is a picture of a capped honey frame taken from one of the yellow hives honey supers(the box which holds 10 frames for the bees to build wax on and store nectar in). isn’t it a gorgeous white?!


now i am harvesting using the crush and strain method. first i remove a frame of capped honey (the bees flap their little wings and evaporate some of the moisture from the nectar and when the moisture level is right, they seal each cell with wax, thus the name, capped honey). i am using a glass dish with a silicon flexible mat in it. first i cut off the honey comb from the frame


then i use a pestle to crush the wax and honey.


i then pick up the silicon mat and let it all ooze into my new bucket with a strainer in it. this bucket also has a gate at the bottom for using when time to bottle the honey that has filtered through the screen.


these following pics are close ups of the bucket and the screen



when i am thinking i am close to capacity i will put the bucket in the sun with a lid on it with a brick on the lid!

very excited as this is the first year i am going out on my own from the normal way of beekeeping in my area. i did no supplemental sugar feedings and went to foundationless frames, and of course, no chemical intervention or brood building patties etc, so… i can now say my beekeeping methods are organic! the bees did a beautiful job of creating their own wax and the honey is light and delicious! i will keep you posted on how much i actually get harvested and bottled. thinking to make some herbal infused honey with some of it.

the harvested wax will be put to good use in herbal salves, which i will tell you about when the time comes. good fall/winter time activity.

when i have cut the comb off the frames i am just leaning them into another pan to finish dripping and then i will save the frames to use next year! i won’t trim off the excess wax on them as with foundationless frames,  you really need to leave a little on the frame so the bees will hopefully cooperate and build their comb in the direction i need to easily harvest from! lol

big thanks to wendy at midwest green for turning me on the live writer as this post looks alot nicer than previous ones!

huge herbal hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages:)

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awwww my sweet melissa officinalis! harvested some this week and steeped 1 part of the lemon balm to 3 parts boiling water. this infusion can be strained and used for lovely teas, jellies, sorbets and other lovely things. i am just going to freeze some to use as i have the time and the inclination for using it in jellies. making lemon balm popsicle for those times when the kids are wild. lemon balm/melissa is a wonderful calming herb. humming the allman brothers song melissa all the while working with this lovely herb

raspberries are ripening daily now! washing, and then freezing them on trays to be put in bags in freezer to use later too. freezing them on the trays first keeps them from all sticking in a big clump in freezer bags. makes it convenient also, to just reach in the bag and take a handful as needed to add to fruit salads, etc. have the prince song raspberry beret flowing through my mind while harvest these berries!lol

checked the hives and found they are both ready for new honey supers. put one on the yellow hive and cobbling together the frames for the new one for the pink hive (the newest bees). the yellow hive had all their honey frames mostly capped. lovely white wax there! the pink hive honey super still hadn’t finished capping their honey is why i chose to go ahead and put the prepared new box on the yellow hive. figured i still had a day or two to finish putting together this other box for the pink hive.

peeking down in between the frames i pull out i can usually get a good idea how many frames are already capped and if they are ready for a new super.

so what are you doing in your gardens dear friends? big hugs to all who visit comfrey cottages

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