All posts by butlerbees

About butlerbees

A beekeeper in the thumb of Michigan.

Pottery Honey Jars

During our slow time (aka winter) I do a lot of reading about bees and honey. One of the articles I read was about keeping raw honey in a ceramic honey jar on top of your stove so the warmth when you’re cooking will slow the crystallization of the honey. Makes sense to me, so we commissioned a local potter to create some for us. They come complete with a 6-inch wooden honey dipper and sell for $23 for the smooth jars and $26 for the ones with the mitt of Michigan. Pair one with a jar of honey and you’ve got a great one-of-a-kind gift.Watch our Products page for photos of individual jars for sale.  Shipping is available.

Hope you’ll like them as much as we do!

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Edgar- and Lucy-approved upcycle

A couple years ago, our friend Mark made totes from empty horsefeed bags, and Hailey and Brooklyn use one to carry their beekeeping equipment.  It’s very durable and can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth and soap.  Sooooooooo, when I noticed the stack of empty goat and chicken feed bags stacked in the garage, I knew just what to do.  Can’t wait to go grocery shopping with my styling’ totes.  And Edgar and Lucy have both volunteered to eat more food.  Anything to help the environment.  They truly are selfless like that. And yes, beekeeping is a little slow in the winter……

‘Twas a mild day…

‘Twas a mild day in December when we looked at each hive
and thought maybe this season they stand a chance to survive.
We know mild winters in Michigan are rare,
so we decided to wrap each hive with great care.
We used black roofing paper to generate heat
and added fondant and sugar for the bees to eat.
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We were almost finished and beginning to
gloat,
when we looked back and saw Edgar the goat.

He was eating the paper off of a hive!
The little troublemaker is lucky to still be alive!

We closed him up in his pen and returned to our task,
and a little while later we were finished at last.

We’d all like to tell you, without sounding pun-ny,
we appreciate your support in buying our honey.
We love what we do and — oh, geez —
I guess we should also be thanking the bees!

We hope in the spring to complete a big chore
by rehabbing the old produce stand into a store.
The building was here when we purchased this land,
and we know we have local history at hand.
If you see us out working and have memories to share,
please stop by and tell them – we really do care!

From all of us at Butler Bees – Hazel, Edgar, Mooka, and Lucy, too —

we wish a happy and healthy 2016 to you!

Banana Bread (Or A Tale of Two Aprons)

On Friday my friend Jean stopped by and gave me two really cute aprons that she had sewn from bee-themed fabric. Aren’t they just perfect?


Anyway, that inspired me to get into the kitchen and start experimenting with a few favorite recipes by replacing at least a portion of the sugar with honey. The National Honey Board says:

For best results, use recipes developed for using honey. When you substitute honey for granulated sugar in recipes, begin by substituting honey for up to half of the sugar called for in the recipe. With experimentation, honey can be substituted for all the sugar in some recipes. When substituting honey for sugar in baked goods:

Reduce the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used.
Add about 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of honey used.

Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning.

Since I had three bananas in a bowl on my counter that were, ummm, ripe enough for banana bread, it seemed like a good place to start.  Here’s my go-to family-favorite recipe for banana bread, and here’s what I did:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 egg
1 3⁄4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
1⁄8 cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄4-1⁄2 cup walnuts (optional)

Combine the oil, eggs, sugar, honey, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas.
Add the baking soda and flour.
Combine well for 2-3 minutes.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree F oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.



The verdict: two thumbs up 👍👍 from Doug and Candice.

Adding a little chocolate creamed honey on my next slice sounds like a good idea.  I think Elvis would approve.

Multiple Choice

A.  How to heat up your Kitchen-Aid
B.  Sorry, honey, it’s not mashed potatoes
C.  Boy I’m glad we live close to a sugar factory
D.  Making fondant for the bees
E.  All of the above

The correct answer is E.

This year I’m making fondant as an emergency food source for the bees.  Winters in Michigan are long, and Spring has wide fluctuations of temperatures.  In the event the bees have used their winter stores of honey and pollen before the first available food source in Spring, they will have fondant to munch on.  Sometimes bees starve even though there is plenty of honey avIMG_0901ailable for them because the temperature is so cold they can’t break their cluster around the queen to move to the next frame in their hive.  It’s so sad when that happens.  In the Spring when cleaning out the hive, you can see their little butts sticking out of an empty honey cell.

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Here it is cooling in aluminum pie tins to harden up.  It actually stays somewhat flexible.  Totally off topic, but isn’t that a cool bread board painted in rosemaling style that I got at Norsk Hostfest this year?

And check out the spatulas from the MBA conference.
Cute, right?

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And here’s a few of the hives as seen from my kitchen window.  I’ll bet the girls (the drones get kicked out in the Fall) are just waiting for another gallon of sugar syrup so they can fill every available cell with food for the winter.

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Michigan Beekeepers Association 2015 Fall Conference

🐝🐝🐝 What fun we had at the conference!  It was held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City.  We had our honey judged (first time ever) and received the highest possible scores for honey density, color, and flavor. We’re quite incredibly pleased with those results!  We took classes about the Cottage Food Act, building bee houses, making creams and lotions, marketing, overwintering, queen rearing, bee management, and small scale pollination. I’m already anxious for winter to be over so we can start our next honey season. BTW – the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a milder winter, so maybe we won’t lose 50% of our hives this year. Fingers crossed.

And we did manage to find a little time for fun and sightseeing.

Tell you what, being a beekeeper is sweet! 🐝🐝🐝