We have honey!

marlingardenerJuly 28, 2009

I'd post this on the beekeeping forum, but all those folks have honey and probably wouldn't understand our joy at having our own honey from our own hives.

This is the first year we have kept bees, and after reading up on everything, getting the equipment, and occasionally checking the hives, we found the first super had quite a bit of honey. We bottled it last night--20 lbs. of honey! We'll post pictures on our website soon (when we get all the sticky off our fingers!). See the happy honey people at Red Gate Farm www.rgf-tx.com!

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Way to go!!!!!!! that is soooo awesome-we want bees and are trying to get it all pulled together for next year! You know that us on here are going to have lots of questions for you so make sure you tell us all about it :)

can't wait to read about it on your website---congratulations---Wow 20lbs!!!!!!

Tried to get bee supplies listed on craigslist for $90 was a good deal--before I could type a reply it was already gone:( It had everything but a couple of things to get started. Where did you get your bees? were they feral? or did you purchase them from somebody?

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 1:21PM
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My husband is the beekeeper, I'm just the beekeeper's helper, but I'll try to answer your questions.
It is not a good idea to buy used bee hives, frames, or supers. There is a disease that could be present, and cannot be gotten rid of. We have heard stories of folks getting wonderful deals on hives, etc. and then having to burn everything and kill their bees.
We got our bees from a bee supplier in Navasota, Texas. They mail, but we were able to go get 4,000 bees and two queens (our back seat buzzed all the way home!). For beginners, purchased bees are recommended because they are more docile (ours are American Italian bees, and I sing Santa Lucia to them frequently).
You can contact us directly from our website and we'll answer your questions more fully.
We're so excited! It may be bees are even more fun than our chickens--no, I love our ladies and I could live on eggs, but not on honey alone!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2009 at 3:58PM
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Do you have any problems with Africanized bees since you're in TX?

Congrats on your first honey!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 12:27PM
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No, we haven't had any problems at all. We are in contact with other beekeepers, and their experience is the same as ours. It seems that the Africanized either are not in Central Texas, or are not cross-breeding with our honeybees. I have a mental image of Texas honeybees with big Stetsons and long-barreled Colts defending their hives!
Our honey tastes so good!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 12:40PM
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Well, I have lots of bees and I still get excited about having honey! Congratulations.
My family in large part lives off of what we raise ourselves from garden veggies to an occasional family cow. We have at some point in time produced and consumed every food group and for a while did all of it at once... There is NOTHING more rewarding than honey! It is such a specialized and enjoyable craft that every part of it is fun.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 5:42PM
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We, too, eat mostly what we have from the garden and eggs from our chickens.
You are absolutely right about honey. We took warm biscuits and a jar of our honey to friends today, and they couldn't believe the difference between honey from the grocery and our honey. Glad you still get excited about honey. We are just absolutely ecstatic!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 8:40PM
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Aug 05, 2009 (The Pueblo Chieftain - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- It has a perfume like none other.

Rich, sweet, flowery, woodsy -- Leroy Neal's honey house is an intoxicating place for a nose. Step inside, out of the bright summer sunshine, and fragrance envelops you like a cloak.

Neal and his helper, Jim Woodworth, seem oblivious to the scent. They're processing honey at Neal's place east of Pueblo, working frame by sticky frame on either side of the decapper. Neal feeds the frames into the machine, which slices off the beeswax caps on the cells holding the honey. Woodworth scrapes off any wax the decapper misses, then Neal puts the frames into the centrifuge or extractor. The honey is pulled out of the frames as the centrifuge spins and slowly flows out into a bucket.

From the bucket, the honey is filtered through cheesecloth-lined strainers that catch leftover wax particles, into tanks where it sits, covered, for a day to settle. Then it's bottled in pints, quarts and gallons. "This is a small (12 frame) extractor," Neal explains, "but with the size of my operation, I'd get too far ahead of myself with a larger one. I can do 1,500 pounds of honey and then I have to bottle. If I get behind, it goes into buckets and then into barrels."

In answer to the inevitable "How long will the honey keep?" Neal says, "infinity." In other words, a long time.

The 69-year-old Neal is a retired teacher -- he taught history, sociology and government at East High for 32 years -- but honey always has been in his blood. His grandfather kept bees during the Depression and Neal himself kept bees as a hobby for many years. When he retired, he says he had to decide how much he liked beekeeping and how serious about it he wanted to be.

He's serious enough today that he produces about 8,000 pounds of honey annually to sell. He could do more, he says, but doesn't want to spend the time that's involved in marketing it. As it is, he sells honey on Tuesdays and Fridays at the Farmers Market in Midtown Shopping Center, where he's been a fixture for more than two decades, and a few vendors sell it for him at other places.

"I thoroughly enjoy it," he says. "I just have a passion for bees. I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy working with the farmers -- they're salt of the earth. They're a different breed."

This past winter, Neal took a semi-load of bees to California -- he went in a caravan with six other trucks loaded with boxes of bees -- where the colonies of bees were put in almond orchards to pollinate the blooms. The bees came back in April to Neal's holding yard on the St. Charles Mesa. There he went through all of the boxes, fed the bees, treated all of them for varroa mites and for bacteria and replaced queens where they were needed. He took a half-semi load of boxes up to land east of Fountain Creek about halfway to Colorado Springs so his bees could feast on the early dandelions, which they love. He put other colonies in alfalfa fields along the Arkansas River.

"The bees start making surplus honey in June. They made a lot more honey early this year than I expected, probably because there was more moisture."

Neal recently moved his bees again, to area seed-melon fields -- a time-consuming and laborious activity.

"Everything associated with honey is heavy," he says. "Honey weighs 12 pounds per gallon in order to be called pure."

Neal's bees will feed on nectar until the first frost and may make honey that long. When September comes, he'll probably stop bottling honey and put it into 55-gallon drums instead.

His honey label doesn't specify the origin of the nectar, though if the bees have spent a long time around yellow sweetclover -- not the case this year -- he might label it clover honey. Otherwise it's honey made from vegetable flowers, melon flowers, alfalfa flowers and more.

"The bees will eat what they want, not what you want them to," Neal says.

The honey's rich, dark appearance pleases a shopper at the Farmers Market, who stops to question the beekeeper. She wonders about the health of his bees.

"They're doing super," Neal says. "I try to prevent problems. It's like when your kids get in trouble, there has to be a reason. If you take care of the causes . . ."

Neal's bees are doing so well he got 3,000 pounds from the previous day's work in the honey house.

His honey is one of the secrets to Woodworth's award-winning pies at the Colorado State Fair and in national pie competitions.

"I use honey whenever possible," Woodworth says. "It's about twice as sweet as granulated sugar."

Neal will be selling his honey at the Farmers Market until the first frost closes the market. It's also available from him at his residence on Baxter Road.




1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 drops red pepper sauce

3 pounds chicken wings or drumettes

Combine honey, soy sauce, chili sauce, garlic salt, pepper and red pepper sauce. Arrange chicken in single layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and pour on sauce. Turn chicken over to coat with sauce. Bake at 350 for 1 hour, turning over once. Cool slightly and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

- Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board, www.honey.com


1 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Salt 2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cup brewed double-strength orange spice tea, cooled

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In plastic bag, combine marinade ingredients (everything but the shrimp, salt and onions). Remove cup marinade; set aside for dipping sauce. Add shrimp to marinade in bag, turning to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.

Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto 8 skewers, dividing evenly. Grill over medium coals 4 to 6 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and are just firm to the touch, turning once. Season with salt, as desired.

Meanwhile, prepare dipping sauce by placing reserved cup marinade in small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly reduced. Stir in green onions.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 35g protein, 511mg sodium, 13 percent calories from fat, 259mg cholesterol, 202 calories, 7g total carbohydrates, 3g total fat.

- Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board


1 pound ground beef or ground buffalo

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon creole or Cajun seasoning

4 roasted Anaheim chile peppers, fresh or canned

4 slices (1 ounce) pepper jack cheese

4 hamburger buns

4 lettuce leaves

4 slices tomato

4 slices red onion

Chipotle Honey Sauce (recipe below)

To prepare burgers, divide the meat into 4 equal portions and shape into patties. Combine the salt, pepper and creole or Cajun seasoning, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the 4 patties. Grill the burgers until nearly cooked to desired level. Top each patty with a chile pepper, followed by a slice of cheese. Cover the grill until cheese melts and burgers are cooked to desired level. Spread the chipotle honey sauce evenly on each of the four buns. Serve patties on buns and garnish with lettuce, tomato and red onion.

Makes 4 servings.


1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, sliced

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

To prepare sauce, mix all sauce ingredients in bowl and set aside.

- Recipes courtesy of National Honey Board


3 (6 inch) tortillas

4 oranges

4 grapefruits

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup raspberry vinegar

2 tablespoons oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 avocado, sliced

Preheat oven to 255 degrees.

Slice corn tortillas into very thin strips. Dry the strips by placing on a cookie sheet and baking for approximately 15 minutes. Set aside.

Peel oranges and grapefruits, then section, seed and place in large bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, raspberry vinegar, oil, and salt. Pour over citrus sections and toss gently. Top with avocado slices and tortilla strips.

Makes 6 servings.

- Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board


1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 cup mashed ripe banana

1/2 cup chopped walnut

Cream honey and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, Combine dry ingredients in small bowl; add to honey mixture alternately with bananas, blending well. Stir in walnuts. Spoon batter into greased and floured 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.

Bake in preheated 325 oven 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf.

NOTE: This oven temperature seems low; baking at 350 degrees might be a good idea.

- Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board


1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup honey

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cups flour

4 tablespoons cocoa

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup nuts, optional

Grease and flour a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together butter, oil and honey. Add eggs, vanilla and buttermilk; mix well.

Combine dry ingredients and add to honey mixture; mix just until combined. Stir in zucchini and nuts, if desired. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 oven. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

- Recipe courtesy of National Honey Board

To see more of The Pueblo Chieftain, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
http://www.chieftain.com. Copyright (c) 2009, The Pueblo Chieftain, Colo.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For reprints, email
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    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 1:44PM
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Here is a great graph on the price of honey.

So he must do about $32,000 to $35,000 on honey.

That is a good hobby.

Here is a link that might be useful: Price of Honey

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 1:48PM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

Wow! Lots of great honey info! I'm so glad it went well for you this first year!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2009 at 7:15AM
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