Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Day of Firsts

I'm exhausted.  But what a great day.

Some friends came over to help us with a hive inspection (we were also moving the entire hive stand set-up).  In one hive, we had a considerable amount of honey in the super.  For reference sake, we have 8-frame hive boxes.  We have 2 deep boxes and 1 shallow super per hive.  In this one hive, as I said, the honey was calling us.  Also, the bees had drawn the comb rather helter-skelter.  We're not sure why.  They're bottom boxes look great.  But we decided to harvest honey for the first time from 4 shallow frames of honey and replace them with 4 empty frames. 
Each of us took a sting.  Our friend got his very first sting right on the nose (his veil fell against his face).  Husbandman took one to the hand (no gloves) and I had one crawl up my pant leg and get me on the leg just as I was walking away with their honey.  But other than that, and given that none of us really knew what we were doing too well, I'd say it went rather well.

Then came the fun part.  In the future, we'll likely use a honey extractor so we don't have to destroy the comb, but this round given the state of the comb, we just cut it right out of the frames.  We put it all into our big stainless steel milking pot.  And I got to squeeze.

After I got it all squeezed out, we set a jar in a bowl and our milk funnel into the jar.  We set a piece of cheese cloth into the funnel and filtered the honey.

 The chunks of wax we'll melt in the sun and filter through cheese cloth.  Maybe mix it with some goat milk for soap???
 From those 4 frames, we ended up with just shy of a gallon of honey.  Its a bit thin, but experts say to set the capped frames in a dehumidified room for a few days before extracting.  Bees can't bring the water content down in Florida humidity.  We skipped this step.  We're fine with runny-ish honey.  In China, it was water thin... but then again, it really is precious little more than water at their own doing.
Our next adventure of the day dealt with this new toy... a Nutrimill grain mill!  I've been wanting an electric grain mill for years.  I finally got to order one and it arrived late this week.  I already had some wheat berries given that I used to occasionally pull out the hand-crank mill and let Husbandman crank it shirtless for my own amusement, but it really didn't produce fine enough flour for nice breads.  But today, Husbandman stayed fully clothed, the kids ran to a bedroom and shut the door against the noise and I listened to the hum of nutrition bursting from tiny little grains.

 A couple hours later (and a bit of our own honey in the recipe), I had these beauties.  It tastes good.  I'm a bit of a novice to the various types of wheat and all the recipes so I have lots of reading to do, but I'm sure the nice folks at Bread Beckers will be happy to supply me with all my knowledge and material needs.
Here are the boys, licking the dregs of honey from a bowl lid with a slice of freshly baked bread in hand.  Though the meal was light on veggies, I thought bread, honey and fresh goat milk made for a mighty fine supper.  They thought so too.


  1. from the Land of Milk and Honey!! love it..

  2. Your bread looks amazing! I wish I had ambition for baking bread, but it is just not something I love doing. Maybe a cost and/or nutritional analysis would provide motivation, but until then, I will just drool over yours ;).

  3. Nutritionally, freshly milled flour can't be beat. It's also MUCH cheeper to buy wheat berries as opposed to flour. But if you're not going to go all out and buy organic wheat berries by the 50# bag, mill it yourself and make the bread, it's really quite difficult to get into making it yourself from common resources. First of all, even if you use plain white flour, its hard to make a nice soft (not crumbly) bread. It will go stale in only a day or two. And the expense is crazy. You can buy healthy breads when they're on sale for MUCH less than you can make them. Then if you want 100% whole wheat, the recipe hunt becomes an even bigger challenge. So, if you're doing a cost analysis, store bought will win every time. Nutritionally, homemade bread can be better, but there are some pretty good breads out there like Arnold or Pepperidge Farms. The freshly milled flour is what is going to take the gold by a long measure, nutritionally speaking. It also does better keeping its moisture and form than factory milled flour. But again, it is a commitment. I've been waiting a long time to make this commitment! The mill alone is $260 and I'll probably spend at least that on grains as the group I'll order with only buys 4 times per year. We've been saving for this!!! :-)