Posts Tagged 'letting go'

going rogue

Remember last fall when I was oozing uncertainty about another season of bee keeping? Well. The tables have turned. I’m not sure exactly what transpired, but I’ve done a one-eighty. Spring can’t come fast enough (and, just for the record, it isn’t).

spring honeybee hive

I’ve got big changes up my sleeve. I’m switching from deep hive boxes to mediums. Which basically translates to “easier” lifting. Wait. Did you hear that? It was my back, already sighing with relief. I’m also converting to foundationless frames. This means my bees will draw out 100 percent of their honey comb instead of getting a pre-made starter sheet of wax foundation to guide them.

There are so many reasons why foundationless feels like the right way to go. The most obvious is that bees have drawn out their own comb for hundreds of centuries. Why we felt the need to introduce starter comb to show them the ropes, isn’t entirely clear. Also at the top of the list is a naturally healthier hive. Left to their own devices, bees tend to make smaller cell spaces. This decreases the amount of time larvae spend in the capped cells before hatching out. The shorter development time interrupts the lifecycle of the deadly varroa mite. And, foundation (which is made mostly out of wax from commercial hives) is laced with trace chemicals. Yuck. The bees have it hard enough. Why bring more garbage into their hives?

foundationless frames

I also want to raise more cut comb honey. Which means I’m going to do some radical moves this summer, like “double shook swarming” (a technique that’s just plain fun to say, if nothing else). I’ll spare you the details, but it involves strategically separating hives, placing the components back to back during the prime nectar flow and reorienting/reuniting the boxes again in the fall.

I love cut comb honey. There is, in my book, nothing finer. But for whatever reason, there’s less of a demand for it. People are shy about how to eat it. Which always steers me towards producing more extracted honey. This year though, markets be dammed. I’m ready to spread the gospel.    

These changes are invigorating. Interestingly, my decisions happened through no real process. And that’s what feels so great about it. I’m type A. I plan. I figure. I troubleshoot before the trouble. And there is always a process. This time though, answers just sort of landed in my lap without my brain inserting itself. I’m not only bucking some conventional beekeeping methods, I’m shaking up my general life strategy to boot. I’m going rogue. And I didn’t even plan it!

I’ve mentioned before how my bees bring out the best in me. They slow me down. They make me take notice. And they repeatedly remind me that there is never a concrete answer. Ever. But now they’ve taken it up a notch. They’ve outdone themselves. I let go, threw it all out there, and this is their answer. You know that Zen proverb, about the teacher appearing when the student is ready? Evidently I’m ready. Thanks girls.

cut comb revival

This isn’t a recipe, so much as a mini-manifesto. Paring knife required.

What’s all the fuss about cut comb honey? Plenty. 

At the very least, you can start your day by dropping a spoonful of honeycomb in the bottom of your cereal bowl. Smother it with hot oatmeal, add a pat of butter, a splash of milk, and swirl it all together for a breakfast that will give any cold, grey morning a run for its money. Wash it down with a shot of espresso and you’ll wonder why every morning can’t be cold and grey.

But summer will come, eventually. And when it does, you can drag your chair out to the patio, set out a slab of comb honey, some good French feta, a baguette, and if you’re lucky, a nice chunky beefsteak tomato. Pour a glass of strong sun tea and stay awhile. Hell, knock out a crossword. You’ve got all morning.

Sooner or later, though, you should get motivated. It is, after all, summer–ice cream season. Pairings are endless, but if you need a starting point, try your hand at a batch of fresh fig ice cream and top your cone with a thin sliver of honey comb. It’ll make you rethink the merits of those cold, grey mornings.

Still, when the weather turns and cool nights start rolling in, it means you can throw together big plates of crisp pears, spiced nuts, blue cheese, comb honey, and a nice pumpernickel. Set out some cold salted butter and call it dinner. But do save room for desert. There’s cupcakes glazed with bittersweet chocolate and honeycomb.

honey cupcakes with honeycomb

sock it to me

This past July, when I was celebrating my forty first birthday, my friend Julie gave me a pair of socks. And until recently, they’ve been hanging out in the back of my closet with the tag still attached. People who know me well can tell you that I am nearly always barefoot. It has to be really cold and bleak before I get the urge to put on a pair of socks, let alone shoes. These same people know, though, that when I finally don a pair, I take the event seriously. Nothing beats a really good pair of socks.

sock pile

Luckily, Julie knows me like a book. She knew her gift would have its day. The socks she gave me are loaded with good attributes. They are the perfect thickness – sturdy, but not so thick they’ll stretch out those shoes that I never wear anyway. And they’re knee-highs. Which I love. Every year, about two weeks into the Wisconsin long underwear season, I start getting claustrophobic just getting dressed in the morning. Knee highs provide a marvelous respite from long underwear and tights. A little extra warmth, but not so constrictive.

 Julie is also aware of my weakness for anything striped, so not surprisingly, the socks she picked for me have stripes. But not just any stripes. Big, bold, stripes – pink, maroon (an excellent color combination right there) alternating with green and white. If you’re as choosy about your socks as I am, you might be starting to think these sound like darn nice socks. And they are. But just wait. It gets even better. Here’s the punch. Each sock has a neon pink lightening bolt going down shin. 

shizam!

Now, I’ve never had an actual pair of super-hero socks before, but I’m here to tell you – they are positively transformative. Phone call you don’t want to make? Appointment you’ve been dreading? Proposal you want to knock out of the park? Slip into your super-hero, lightning bolt socks. I swear they help. It’s like the come infused with a surge of super-hero power. I don’t know how they do it, but they do.

“They” in this case are the good people at Sock it to Me, my new favorite sock company. Not that I had a former favorite sock company. But that hardly matters. I was so intrigued with my new super-hero socks that I saved tag with their website. I never save clothing tags.

But since I did, my sister-in-law got some kickin’ black and white derby socks for Christmas. My husband Mark, a fish biologist, got art deco fish socks. Oh, and a pair of Lucha libre wrestling socks. He teaches high school sophomores after all. My brother was the recipient of a much more modest, crew style, super hero sock in black and green. And my nieces? One got owls and the other got a pair that are now on my personal must-have list: PB&J. I’m sorry, but who wouldn’t feel better with a pair of peanut butter and jelly socks? Especially ones where the peanut butter is holding jelly’s hand, and jelly has a cute little pink bow? I suppose if you can’t wear super-hero socks every day. PB&J socks are a decent alternative.

The older I get, the more I understand just how little of the universe is actually within my control (as much I sometimes beg otherwise). But my socks? My socks are free domain. Life is simply too short to diddle with below average socks. So go ahead, sock it to me life! I can take it.

socks hanging