Winter Offers a Welcome Change of Pace on the Farm

Wintertime in Minnesota: that wonderful time of year when we Minnesotans proudly brag about our frigid climate, huge piles of snow, and the short, dark days we endure throughout this season. I'm one of those crazy Minnesotans who loves winter. To my surprise, since we moved to the farm I have grown to appreciate it even more.

On the farm, the dormancy of winter gives us much-needed time to rejuvenate. During the spring, summer, and fall, we make many decisions each day based on what we think Mother Nature will require (should we tap the trees? Plant the tomatoes? Water the apple trees? Split the bee hives?). But during the winter, Mother Nature is free to express herself as she desires. All we have to do is clean up the snow occasionally, when she dumps on us.

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Honey Harvesting 101: Smoke, Stink, Blow, Brush

I am so loving the “farm to table” movement that is helping us all better understand where our food comes from. Everyone knows that farmers grow food, but there is a lot more to the story about how that food gets to our tables. Taking that concept one step further, everyone know that honeybees make honey, but how does the honey actually get inside those bear-shaped containers?

Crops, we all know, are harvested whenever the vegetables, fruits, and grains are ripe. It is no different for honey. But since bees make the honey, how do we know when it is "ripe" and ready to harvest? Easy. The bees decide when it’s ready, and they seal the ripe honey cell with wax. They do this cell-by-cell until the entire frame is capped.

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Eat Local Honey and 7 Other Ways You Can Help Save the Bees

The USDA just released the survey results of winter honeybee colony losses, and the news is bad. Nationwide, the losses of managed honeybee colonies totaled almost 34 percent from October 2009 to April 2010 – an increase from the 29 percent loss reported in 2008-2009. The complete results of this survey conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is yet to be published, but the abstract is now available.

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