Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring Already?

I'm not sure how this year got started and into spring already.  I feel like I just got over Christmas, and now I'm staring Easter right in the face.
And of course that means we are right in the midst of the RED ZONE in our bee business.  This is the time of year for customers to order their bees, get their hive and equipment supplies ordered, and take classes.  So we are busy as bees, and happy, happy, happy to be doing so!

We have had a lot of classes this late winter, and a quite few yet for the rest of the year.  In the classes, we talk about cooking with honey, and many ask me how to convert recipes using sugar. With honey, of course!

Here's a cute little graphic I found that explains baking with honey really well.  Thanks to the people at ruralspin  for sharing it.
If you are cooking (on the stove top that means fellas) then there's no real conversion to adding honey.  If you are like me, I just throw it in and have at it.  So experiment and see if you like more or less because you can taste-test as you go along. 

Which brings me to breakfast.  Why breakfast, you say? Because breakfast is the meal our family loves the most.  We aren't crack-of-dawners by any means, but we love to get up, get the coffee going, head out to the coop and find what eggs the dogs hadn't gotten to yet, and come in and whip up some pancakes, eggs, and bacon.  And yes, we drink sweet tea with our breakfast.

I found this simple but really good pancake recipe.  I hope you like it:


 2 cups complete buttermilk pancake mix
 1 tablespoon French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
 2 tablespoons cinnamon 
 1/4 cup water
 1/2 cup soy milk
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 2 tablespoons honey
butter
big 'ol quart jar of honey to put on table cause everyone will want to drizzle more over their pancakes, and add to their coffee

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together the pancake mix, coffee creamer, and cinnamon. Add the water, soy milk, honey and vanilla; mix until just blended, but do not over mix.
Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in pan. Ladle your pancake mix into pan.  Cook until bubbles form, then flip and brown on the other side.

I hope you enjoy your family (and breakfast) as much as we do. And enjoy the spring!




Friday, November 9, 2012

A Burns Family Blessed Year

This year has been extraordinary for the Burns family.

Our son David, about to be a parent for the first time
and our son Seth, US Marine
It has been hectic, with a lot of work, but also some big changes to our family. Our business nearly tripled this year, and while that certainly is a blessing, also meant hiring and training new employees, some of whom are family members, and others who have become lifelong friends.(It's always a blessing to hire family members but presents unique situations of its own.) We had one daughter get married, one son become a US Marine, and another son announce a new grand baby for us on the way. (That will be 6 total!).  We have been able to take a couple of short trips to Chicago and Iowa, David got to participate in this year's EAS in Vermont, and we spent a week in beautiful San Diego, California and saw the Pacific ocean for the first time. Our family reunion was held in July in Southern Illinois, and we also held a record number of weekend classes and workshops for our business.  Customers have been great (as usual) and while most of our business is online, have been able to meet quite a few of them who venture out here to corn land to see us on our farm. We are currently building a new classroom/learning center facility here at our farm to house our classes for this coming year and getting ready to plan the holidays coming up soon (with 6 children, and (almost) 6 grandchildren, plus spouses, we can fill up a house fast!)

Our new Learning Center

We are looking at a few weeks here at the end of the year to be quiet, calm and peaceful--and then the RED ZONE time for us starts --from about mid January to July when the bee season blasts off.

I hope you find the rest of 2012 to be peaceful and relaxing.  Have fun with your family.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No Honey Extractor? No Worries!

Honey is the world's first sweetener.  Honey made the world's first alcoholic beverage, called mead.  Honey was one of the world's first medicines, used for everything from sore throats to wounds.

So, it's been around since the beginning of time. And those folks had to learn to get the honey out of the hive without the use of modern equipment, called extractors or centrifuges. Back then, it was common that most had their own beehive and there were very few big operations where large machines would have been needed to extract honey to haul off to companies like Sue Bee.

1930's Price for Extractors
Extractors can be expensive.  The cheapest plastic ones with shipping costs can run up to $150.00. A nice American made, high quality extractor can start at around $300 before shipping.  So what can you do if you can't afford one?

One thing you can do is to borrow an extractor or rent one.  Many bee clubs have them available for their members, all you have to do is sign up for a date and sometimes put down a small deposit that you will get back if the equipment is returned in good condition.  There are also places where you can rent an extractor, or buy time in someone's honey house. You'll have to be the judge on this, because sometimes paying the rental fees aren't a good deal, so think wisely on this one.  Some areas have commercial kitchens that you can rent by the hour, and some of those kitchens may have the equipment you need.

Manual extraction is another option, sometimes called the "destruct" method.  Back in the old days, women would walk out to the beehive, open it up and take out one frame.  Upon returning to the kitchen, she would open up the cappings with a fork, suspend it above a bucket, and let it drip out.  It's a very slow method, but an effective one if you keep a frame hanging all the time.

If you have plastic foundation, another way to extract is to pull out all the honeycomb, placing it in cheesecloth suspended over a bucket (use food grade please, not paint buckets).  Squeeze the comb and allow to drip through the cheesecloth into a strainer fitted over the bucket.

If you have bees-made wax, or fitted your frames with wax foundation, you could use the method above, or you could just cut out honeycomb sections, placing directly into a tupperware container with a lid.  Some  folks will now freeze it (in case there were any other little critters in there) and use upon having been frozen for 24-48 hours.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Plants and Flowers for Bees

We are having a very busy time right now! Honey bee season is fast upon us.  The weather warmed up extra early this year which sent even more people into a beekeeping frenzy than usual and consequently swamped us.  We are grateful for our customers this year-- we tripled our business in the month of February.  We had no idea this would happen --no projections would have prepared us for that.  Perhaps a 10 percent increase in business, maybe even 20--but triple? Thank you to those of you who are now our new customers, those of you returning again, and for those of you who go out of your way to tell people about us and send more on to us.

In the middle of our busiest season, our youngest daughter Karee eloped to Montana with our IT guy Jesse, who is also one of our shop carpenters.  We've also had our shop shut down for weekends on end now so we can teach classes, vend at other classes, or be at conferences in the tri-state area. We hired four new people to help us out this year, so I won't be the only one you talk to on the phone anymore, but please make the other gals (and guys)  as happy and blessed as you have made me over the years.

This year I noticed a different pattern in the students in our classes.  Typically we get only people wanting to start beekeeping, or wondering if they can do it or have enough money.  But this year I noticed many folks who come just to learn more about this incredible creature and find out what they can do to help without becoming a beekeeper.

Here are some of the best ways you can help: 1) Try to limit or completely stop using pesticides on your lawn, gardens and flowers.  If you absolutely have to use something, try something more organic (although if it's still claiming it's a pesticide, it doesn't really matter if it's organic or not, right?) or try using a liquid late in the evening after the bees are back home that can dry before daylight.  Stop spraying those dandelions! Bees LOVE dandelions and it makes the best honey. Don't use a powder pesticide.  2) Let wild areas grow up in your yard, and stop mowing ditches and fence rows.  I know it doesn't always look that great, but bees have less and less area to forage now, and this is one thing you can do to help.  Try to persuade your farmer neighbors to leave the edges of their fields and ditches alone too.  I know it looks more tidy when they mow from the edge of their field down to the road, but think of all the wild flowers that get mowed down. 3) Advocate for the bees if you can.  You need a little bit of knowledge for this--but some ideas would be to have a showing of a movie like Vanishing of the Bees, or Nicotine Bees at your local library or school and invite the public; ask your local nature center if they would hold a bee workshop (many, many of them do) either for adults or in their children's summer camps; donate books on bees to your local library--both for adults and children and 4) plant flowers and plants that bring bees and other beneficial insects into your yard.

I don't often see bees on plants like daffodils, tulips, roses or lilies, but early plants they love include boxwood, dandelions, clover, borage and many budding and flowering trees.  Mid summer plants and flowers include mint, catnip, flowering herbs, cilantro, and of course vegetables flowering in your garden.  I also let some items in my garden flower that typically we eat before it flowers--like the lettuce for example, just so the bees will use some of it.  Late in the year, my bees love my cosmos, sunflowers, lavender, sage, coneflowers and seedum.

You can help even if you don't want to be a beekeeper!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Are Your Bees Hungry?

A winter cluster of bees

Winter in the north can be any extreme.  We can experience temperatures of around 0 for days at a time; or several days of 50 degree weather.  The snow can be very deep, or barely nothing at all.  


Here in Central Illinois we have experienced a bizarre winter.  Now, I realize I have a lot to do with that.  Last August I got my motorcycle license, and after getting it so late in the year, I realized that I wouldn't be able to ride for very long before putting my bike up for winter.  So I wished and prayed and kept my fingers crossed for a mild winter, and I got it! I have been out on my bike a number of time in December and January, and today --February 18--the temperature has hit around 50 degrees again.


All of this to say that this kind of weather does strange things to the nature around us too.  Trees or plants blooming too early can be cut down as we get a freeze, which is still likely in the next month or so. The honeybees are out looking for something to devour and not finding a thing.  Which leads them to eat an abundance of what they have on hand--honey!


A warm winter can lead to honeybee starvation far quicker than a very cold winter.  In the coldest of winters, bees will cluster in a ball to stay warm, using very little resources and needing very little food.  They use those rare, occasional days of warmer temperatures to fly out to defecate and hunt for their honey.  But with the weather being so warm, and for so often, they are going through their storages quickly.


Or for some, those bees didn't have enough to start off the winter.  Some beekeepers, mostly out of a lack of skill or knowledge, will take off too much honey.  Or, anticipating a late fall nectar flow, will take off all the honey in the deep summer, and then realize because of weather conditions, that fall flow didn't happen, leaving the bees short on stores for the winter. 


Bees then need to be fed.  Because we have asked these bees to live in our yard, in our boxes, in our environment, in our weather, I believe we have the responsibility to help them out.


One of the easiest things you could do is make sugar patties--a sort of a "fondant".  Some companies have now started selling these, but they are very simple and cheap to make--I wouldn't suggest putting your money into purchasing them and paying shipping when it is so easy.  Simply take 2 cups of powdered cane sugar (beet sugar is  a GMO, cane sugar is not--the package has to say CANE) and combine with 1 ounce of water.  Roll into a ball and flatten out and lay on top of the frames where the bees are (obviously don't put it three supers up away from the cluster).  I also add 1/2 cap full of Honey B Healthy and 1 - 2 tablespoons of pollen/pollen powder.  If you only have pollen patties, just cut a small section and press into the sugar patty. 


Easy peasey as my youngest says.  Now, go feed those bees. :-) We also sell a candy board at honeybeesonline.com if you are interested.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Milk and Honey Soap


Getting ready for a class on making soap, I was digging out a few recipes today and came across one for milled soaps.

Milled soaps are easy! It's just a fancy way of saying "grate whatever soap you have laying around the house and melt it down."  But milled soap sounds so much more romantic. It is also sometimes called "rebatching".

I have made the old-fashioned lye soaps and while it can be fun to create with different oils and fragrances, it can be a little tricky working with the lye.  If you'd rather not be quite so adventurous, and scared of highly toxic chemicals,  you could go to your local hobby store and buy cubes of "melt and pour" soaps which you just melt down and pour into molds.  Pretty, but not overly crafty, but a nice way to spend an afternoon.

In making the milled soaps, you start off with any kind of traditional soap and grate it.  Some use leftovers bits they have been saving, others buy a specific brand of soap.  Some will make lye soaps, and then grate them down.  Whichever way you choose, for this first recipe, you need about 12 ounces of a grated soap and 9 ounces of water.  Melt the soap in the water, adding 1/4 c instant powered milk and 1/4 c honey.  Stir until thick before pouring into molds, or the honey may sink to the bottom of the molds (which could give it kind of a cool look). Options to include may be up to 1 T of ground toasted oatmeal, food coloring, or essential oils of your choice.  Let the soaps cool and cure, or place in the freezer, before taking out of molds.

Milk and Honey Soap
12 oz of basic soap, grated
9 oz water
1/4 c instant powdered milk
1/4 c honey
Instructions: Melt together the 12 oz of basic soap and 9 oz of water.  Add the milk and honey, stirring until fairly thick.  Put into molds and allow to cure.

Hope you all are enjoying a wonderful new year.  The beekeeping season is right around the corner, and I can't wait!




Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from the Burns Family

From left to right: Kellie, Jesse, Jill, Sheri
Dustin, Seth, Christian, Lara, Karee
David, (Claire is hiding behind David), Jennifer, Allison, Sarah
(not shown: Nikki, David and Curt)

It is totally impossible to believe how fast this year has flown.  It seemed like only the other day when I was putting out last year's Christmas card.  We have been very blessed this year,  have all been healthy, have grown closer together and to God, have met some amazing friends and customers and now are looking to close out yet another year with all of you.


Thank you.  To our friends: thank you for your friendship, caring and support.  To our customers: thank you for doing business with us, keeping us busy and fed, and supporting us by recommending us to others or mentioning us in your bee clubs, blogs, tweets, and facebook statuses. To our family: thank you for being yourselves, helping us when we've been overloaded, giving us a hand with the work, fixing things that needed fixed, and keeping us old people company.




Merry Christmas from all of us at Long Lane Honey Bee Farms!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Countdown to Sheri's 50th Birthday: 15 down, 35 to go!!!


Thanks to all who have absolutely made my week! After only a week, I have received 15 sets of baby clothes...only 35 to go to get to my goal of 50, which marks my 50th birthday.  I have several others who have promised to send them on to me.  Folks seem to really be responding, and I guess it's in part to it being so close to Christmas, and the fact that for some of us, that symbolizes the birth of Christ.

The gospels tell the story of the birth of Christ.  It's one that stirs my heart repeatedly.  As a mother myself, and becoming a mother for the first time at a young age just like Jesus' mother, I often wondered how she did it, who was there to help her, what her parents thought, what the village people thought.  It makes you wonder if there was a place like a Crisis Pregnancy Center back then,  if she would have used it as a single mother.

Mary went into labor as she and Joseph neared Bethlehem, but there wasn't any rooms for them to stay in.  So the baby Jesus was born in a manger, which for all practical purposes was a barn stable.

I have chickens myself, and spend time in there cleaning in.  It's no place for a baby.  We  kind of get all sentimental and think warm & cozy thoughts imagining the cows nuzzling up close to the baby in the manger, or sheep huddling nearby giving warmth, but I'm thinking it probably wasn't quite like that.  Our mind, in an effort to feel better, tries to put a positive spin on the imagery of a young teenage girl having to give birth in a barn, and the fact is, it couldn't have been a hygienic place and not even all that safe with the animals nearby.

The Women's Care Center in Danville is the mission which we are helping this Christmas season.  Our goal is 50 sets of warm clothes for new babies born to mothers who need help in some way, for what ever reason. If you can't do it for these young girls, do it for the reason for this season-- do it because of Christ, who came into the world to an unmarried teenage girl, born in a barn, surrounded by animals, no midwife or doctor that we know of, probably poor, lonely, and in a strange place.

I am accepting donations up to my birthday on Jan. 3.  The Center also needs a new television for educational purposes and if you'd rather send a donation, that is what we will be buying with it.  Any and all can be sent to me at 14556 N 1020 East Rd., Fairmount IL 61841.

Thank you again!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Countdown to Sheri's 50th birthday: Can you help these kids?

Sheri and part of her brood
I have a lot of children and a lot of grandchildren.  I am thankful and blessed to have this family.  These kids are smart, sharp, loving, compassionate and caring. They are all healthy and happy.


Not all babies are born in such happy conditions.  But ALL  babies deserve love, kindness, patience, and respect, no matter what.


As I mentioned in my last blog, we are in the countdown to my birthday.  I thought my 50th birthday wasn't throwing me for a loop, but it really has.  I have been more nostalgic than ever lately, signed up for Ancestry.com, dug up my old pictures, and began journaling for my kids.  I don't think I did anything "mid-life crisis-ish" (although my mother would beg to differ when she heard I had bought a new motorcycle), but I do know I have no regrets, so I am not holding onto a "bucket list" or anything like that.


I'm way past the time of wanting a big to-do for my birthday, or presents, but I do want to do something to mark this time in my life.  So I chose to pick an organization that depends on all of us to help them do their job and help them in some way.


The Women's Care Center in Danville exists to help mothers with unexpected pregnancies, women who are not sure what they are going to do or where to get help, or women with pregnancies who are in household and lifestyle conditions that could lower the quality of life for them and their children.


The center needs warm sleepers and clothes for babies, so I want to provide 50 sets of clothes to send to them.  If you would like to help me with this, I would be thrilled about that. These items must be new, and you can deliver them to me, here at our store in Fairmount, or mail them to me:


Sheri Burns
LONG LANE HONEY BEE FARMS
14556 N 1020 East Rd
Fairmount IL 61841


The center also needs a large screen tv for educational purposes for their clients, and I'd like to be able to gift them with this as well, so for those of you who want to make donations to that, just send a check and put on the memo what it is for.


Thank you all,



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Honey Salad Dressings

Our girls - Nikki- our daughter-in-law, Jill, Karee,
and Jennifer

As we near the holiday season, I like to reflect on the past year.  It's been a good year.  One filled with new things.  It's been a little hard in some ways, but mostly it's been a real blessing.

One of my biggest blessings is, of course, my family. David and I have six terrific children.  What is so neat about our kids is that none of them are in anyway similar--either in looks, temperament, personality, or actions.  It's been fun seeing them grow into their own persons, and watch them choose their professions, their spouses, and take on the world.  It's been scary watching some of them--it's never easy to watch your kids fall (or even fail) and not want to rush in and pick them up.  But they all stand on their own two feet, are strong and independent, and pretty much fun too.

This past year, our oldest daughter Jennifer, along with her family moved back into the area--only about a 10 minute ride straight down our main country road.  It's been a joy seeing her more often and having the grandchildren so close by.  She invited us to come eat with them last night, and served a good honey dressing (along with a few other things as well!). 

I rarely make a salad dressing from a recipe, it's so easy.  I start off putting about 1/4  to 1/2 c of a good olive oil, and 1/4 c - 1/2 c of honey into a canning jar. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Now add an acid of some kind -- could be orange/lemon/lime juice, or a good vinegar like raspberry or apple cider--a few tablespoons should be about right. Now last, add some flavoring, such as seeds, herbs, or spices like mustard and paprika. If you are looking for a creamy dressing, add sour cream or mayo--about 1/4 cup.  Put the lid on that jar and shake away. But for those of you who like an actual recipe, here are a couple:

Honey Mustard Dressing
1/4 c mayo
1 T prepared mustard
2 T honey
1/2 t lemon juice

Honey Poppyseed
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c honey
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 T poppyseeds
1/4 t paprika
1/4 t worcestershire sauce

Honey Orange
1/4 c sour cream
2 T orange juice
2 t chopped green onion
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Sheri Lynn Henness
Born January 3, 1962
Today also marks 50 days until my 50th birthday.  I decided I wanted to do something very special for this very special birthday.  I thought of some of the usual things, like maybe a cruise with the kids, or jetting off to Italy with David--but mostly those were just wishes.  So I decided to do something that might make a bigger difference to someone else, so I am going to collect 50 items to take to our local Women's Care Center in Danville, and I need your help.  In my next blog I will tell you what I need to collect, and these items will represent the biggest needs the center has, and if you can, send it on to me, or bring it in to our store, and it will be included in my birthday present to the center on my birthday January 3, 2012. 


Until next time,