September 2011 Archives

I love this woman so much....

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...sometimes it's all I can do keep from tearing my eyes out over how great she is. I love you, Buffy Sainte-Marie!

timoneal.jpg (Photo by Ross Brown)

From my friend Tim at Borough Bees:

" Back to my regularly scheduled programming, I will be hosting a FREE Public Hive Inspection at the Added Value Community Farm in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Hint: It's across the street from IKEA. Getchu some meatballs in your face and getchu some bees in your hands. It's what we call a win-win situation in my business.

This week's inspection is going to be particularly exciting. If you read Part One of Queenright in Red Hook and would like to skip ahead and see the (hopefully) awesome conclusion of the saga, COME OUT TO RED HOOK on SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th. I won't know the ending either, so I'm SUPER EXCITED to find out!

I'll be there bright and early, rip-roarin' to go, and I'll start the talk and demo at 11AM or SOON THEREAFTER. Be on time! Get there early! Get your hands dirty on the farm! The demo will take place during open volunteer hours, so stick around afterwards! YES!


It's all going down at the Added Value Red Hook Community Farm, located at 3-49 Halleck St, Brooklyn, 11231, and I'll be starting the inspection at 11AM.

To get there by Subway:
A/C/F train to Jay Street/Borough Hall. Exit the station and walk west to Boerum Place and Joralemon Street. Take the B61 bus going towards Red Hook. Exit the bus at the IKEA store, and the farm is across the street.
R to 4th Ave/9th St. Take the B61 bus going towards Red Hook/IKEA on 9th st. Exit the bus at the IKEA store, and the farm is across the street."

Get up close and personal with some stingy bugs before the end of the season! You'll love it or my name isn't Meg Paska...

Hey there, folks!

Just stopping in to remind everyone that there are just a few days left to sign up for my Backyard Farming Bootcamp on Sunday. I've reduced the few remaining tickets by $25 for a limited time so go get 'em while the gettin' is good!

I'm also going to be doing a workshop and demo at Jewel Street Paradise each month for the fair price of $25.

These will take place on the 2nd Sunday of each month and will be about an hour to two hours long and you will receive a series of recipes handouts and some goodies to take home with you. Coffee and snacks will also be served.

Here's the schedule:


November: Winter Soup and Bread- Learn how to make amazing soup from scratch and how to bake a basic peasant loaf to accompany it. Once you know how, this will be a a weekly routine for you all winter long!

December: DIY Holiday Gifts- Learn to make amazing gifts for friends and family for the holidays; candies, ornaments, seasonal jams and cookies. These projects are so good, you'll be expected to make a tradition out of them!

January: Growing Mushrooms at Home- In this workshop you will come to understand the basics of Mycology and how to utilize materials like coffee grounds and spent grain to grow some of your own edible mushrooms. We will also discuss methods of using and preserving your mushrooms.


February Spring Garden Preparation- If you have any outdoor space at all, you will likely want to grow some of your own food in it. In this class you will assess your space and plan for your Spring garden. Learn about starting seeds indoors vs direct seeding, companion planting, bed preparation and more. Attendees will leave with a packet of seeds and a planted flat of tomatoes for their garden.


March Chickens and Rabbits: Backyard livestock is not out of the question just because you live in the city! Rabbit and Chickens don't take up much space and are reasonably quiet. In this workshop we will discuss the pros and cons of both animals, their care and how you can make it happen in virtually any location with a little imagination.

Sign up for classes will be taken by email. Please get in touch! Also feel free to contact me with any other class ideas you'd like to see made available.

Autumnal Jams

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Crisp air and burning leaves mean time to whip out my Pentangle records. Oh yes!

Can you feel it?

Hello, Readers!

This weekend will likely be one of the last opportunities of the season to get to the beach without losing appendages to frostbite. It's true, SUMMER IS OVER! So get your butt to Rockaway Beach tomorrow (Saturday, the 17th) for the First Annual NYC Honey Festival!

honey_festival queens.png

The festival is being hosted by the Rockaway Beach Concessions you know, the collaboration of all those hip, talented restauranteurs that was such a hit all summer long? Vegan baked treats, frozen banana pops, locally made hotdogs, thai food, juices and TACOS! Mmmm! I'm going to eat so much!

But wait! The big deal is that we're going to be celebrating BEEKEEPING and HONEY! Here's what you have to look forward to by attending:

-Sixpoint Craft Ales limited addition honey ales
-A Honey-tasting competition with a full English hive set up as 1st Prize!
-Face painting for the kiddos
-A Beekeeper Photo Booth by Pop Up Photobooth (play dress-up with beekeeper gear and get your pics taken)
-Beekeeping 101 discussions
-Honey extraction demos all day long
-Cooking Demos by the Brooklyn Kitchen BK Farmyards and Growing Chefs
-A Mead making demo
-Bee tees screened on site by Bushwick Print Lab

and more!

For those who like to party hardy: Once the sun goes down stay for honey-themed dinner at the buzzworthy price of only $20/person \ hosted by Motorboat & The Big Banana, Caracas Rockaway, and Sharon Is Karen. This soul food feast Is solid gold: Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey Butter Sauce will be accompanied by Collard Greens, Honey Baked Beans and Honey Cornbread, ending on the sweet, sweet note of Honey Tres Leches. Beer, wine, and cocktails available, many with honey incorporated.
At Concession Stand Beach 96th st - 7pm-10pm

So, y'all better come! I'll be there repping at the Backwards Beekeepers of NYC table with Tim of Borough Bees. We'll have an observation hive filled with cute bees and some awesome tees for sale to help support the club.

Queen Smuggling for Beginners

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Some months back a few beekeeper friends and I went up to Newton Farm to have some fun setting up swarm traps and putzing around with the two hives that we set up there. One of the hives happened to be boiling over with bees (an indicator that they are running out of room, which could mean swarming) so we made what is called a "walkaway" split to alleviate some of the crowding. Making a split is often a beekeeper's first introduction into queen breeding.

Beekend 031.JPG (Photo by Tim O'Neal)

What a split involves is removing and transporting frames from one crowded hive to a new, empty hive in a different location as close as a few feet away. You can't just take any frames and throw them in...there are a few simple rules to follow that will ensure success:

-One of the frames must have EITHER fully capped queen cells or the queen on it. The other should stay with the original hive. If you don't have queen cells but want to make a split anyway, you can include a frame with eggs that the bees will then create emergency queen cells around or you can purchase a queen from a breeder.

-One frame must contain food (honey and pollen)

-You must introduce an adequate number of house bees to ensure that the brood in development are properly cared for and that comb can be built at an acceptable rate.

c2011alexbrown8455.jpg (Photograph by Alex Brown)

Once you've located either the frame with the queen on it or a frame with capped queen cells, set it to the side. If you are choosing to use a frame with queen cells (as I did), throughly check the frame to ensure there isn't a queen on there. Place that frame in the new hive location.

queen cell.jpg (The biggest queen cell ever. Photo by Kirk Anderson)

Now you will want to go and locate a frame with eggs and uncapped larvae and a frame with capped brood which will emerge quickly, giving the new split a boon to their population. You can add more than a frame of each of the population of that hive is really booming.

Remove a frame or two of honey and place those outside of the frames of brood which should be placed centrally in the hive body. Put empty frames on either side of this cluster of frames. You can also place these frames in a nuc box until they fill that up and then transport to a full 8 or 10-frame hive body.

split.jpg (A nearly complete walkaway split. Photo by Kirk Anderson)

Once the frames are in place, you are almost done! Now you want to give the hive some extra work force. Take a few frames of brood (which are almost always covered with nurse bees) and shake the accompanying bees into the new colony. Make sure you do this over the hive, not in front of it so they fall right in. You will want to shake about 3 or 4 frames in this manner and then place the bee-less frames back into the old location.

The old hive will have empty spaces now. Put some frames without comb staggered in between frames of brood to give the remaining house bees a place to build comb. Once the comb is built, the remaining queen will have a place to lay more eggs.

Close both hives up and make sure to reduce the entrance on the new hive. They will be much too small to properly defend themselves from insect raiders like wasps and other bees. If you don't have an extra entrance reducer, you can plug half of the entrance with a handful of dried grass or straw.

*UPDATE: You may want to start feeding the new hive sugar syrup to stimulate them to build comb. Most of the foragers will drift back to the original location so there won't be any new food coming in and hence they will build comb a bit slower.

So now that you know what a split is and how to perform one, this brings me back to the one Kirk Anderson and Tim O'Neal and I made during our "bee-kend" up at the farm. I make splits in Brooklyn all the time and it's fun to see how the bees work things out. If for whatever reason the split doesn't take, you can always combine them with a weak colony in the fall.

This is exactly what I did this week. The split we made did a great job of building up, and the queen that emerged went on to mate and become a very solid egg-layer, but they were still a little small to make it through the long, cold Catskill winter. I made the decision to recombine the two hives, which would require me to remove one of the queens and dispose of her. I'd then place one hive on top of the other with a piece of newspaper between them. Eventually the bees chew through the paper and the queenless colony accepts the pheromones of the queenright colony and they become one. Pretty neat trick.

Anyway, I really hated the idea of killing a perfectly good queen to recombine these hives. The colony had virtually no mites and I'm fairly certain that ole queen-y mated with some of the feral bees that I had seen foraging early in the spring. If my suspicion is correct, the workers that came from her will show some of the winter hardiness that the feral bees possess. I had to find another place for her besides the blunt end of my hive tool.

jarofbees.JPG (Jar O' Bees. Photo by ME, ya turkey!)

Luckily, I had gotten an email from my friend Eric over at Garden Fork TV saying he was looking for such a queen to replace a southern commercially bred queen that hadn't been doing so great. As I type this, I am sitting in a coffee shop with a jar of bees, one of which is the queen that will go into a Brooklyn rooftop colony and hopefully lead them into winter well.

I am optimistic. This queen got her start on an abundant flow of nectar and pollen (first dandelion and sugar maple, then mustard flower, milkweed and holy basil, wild thyme, clover and goldenrod). She just didn't have enough time, is all. I never treated them, they had all of the fresh mountain spring water and amazing forage they could have needed and they seem better for it. Here's to hoping that she continues to kick ass in her new locale.

9-8-dekalbfarm.jpg (Photo courtesy of 3rd Ward)

Hey there, readers!

Just a last minute heads up about a fun event going on this Sunday from 5-8 at Dekalb Market.

3rd Ward, one of the learning facilities here in Brooklyn that I teach food production/homestead-y classes at, is organizing some workshops along side some of the other organizations with farm plots at the market. I will be teaching a workshop on raising chickens!

Buddy and Dumpling will be there showing off their luxurious plumage and eating purslane. I will be there talking about the pros and cons about city-chickening and how to get started.

The event is FREE! There will be seed saving and other garden related demos and delicious food and drinks available from the kick-ass vendors that set up shop in the shipping containers on site. It'll be a great way to spend part of the weekend. Come on by and say hello!

Here's the flyer!


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This page is an archive of entries from September 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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