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Abruzzo Tornareccio Honey

June 27, 2011 in , ,

Abruzzo is the region in a central Italy, home to three protected national parks with most spectacular mountain- and sea landscapes. Due to the climate, altitude and protected status you can find a wealth of trees old beech woods, mixed with Turkey oaks and Austrian pines form most of the forests, with maple, mountain ash, fir, yew, laburnum, hazel, wild pear, wild cherry and apple trees also present. The area is not very well known to travellers, but is very popular with Italians itself. We think they are very good in keeping their best secret holiday spots. The area is very popular for all kind of sports, trekking, horse riding, photography and fishing.

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The Dutiful Beekeeper

May 3, 2010 in

Well June will soon be upon us and the dutiful beekeeper will be checking their hive(s) in a 7 day cycle. Why? Well the early summer honey should be due for removal before the first week in June.

Honey left where it is and the bees left to their own devices will result in (if the early summer bloom has been good) bees gradually taking back the honey ready to swarm. The bees will take the stored honey ready to feed the swarm for the three to five days it takes to relocate and get settled. If the honey is removed the bees do not have this option and you will gain a larger early harvest.

If the early bloom is not so good it simpy take longer for the above process to happen. They probably will still swarm but the honey extracted for the process will be over a longer period. Also the bees will be producing more brood to replace the innevitable swarm later in the Summer, which could result in Queen fatigue or congestion, plus the bees wont have much to do because of the lack of forage!!

Not sure if your bees are going to swarm? Well if they are short of space (lebensraum) they will swarm!! Is the brood box rammed full of bees (another delay tactic would be to add another super for brood)? Are there queens cells or even other queens? If yes a swarm is imminent.

One of the best solutions and certainly the easiest is to remove the early honey harvest (sealed honey) at the end of May and create a couple of “mini” swarms with the bees which would otherwise have not much to do. So give these new nuclei a couple of frames of eggs and open brood and remove to another locale. Feed all the hives well with 1 part sugar to 2 parts water syrup.

Now you have a queen right colony and perhaps two “mini” colonies with the right tools to re-queen start anew!! Awesome!

The other good thing about this whole process is the opportunity to treat Varroa and look out for EFB and AFB!!

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Is it a good idea to harvest all the honey?

June 14, 2009 in , , ,

A recent conversation with my Mum has sparked this post and I think it raises and interesting point regarding the health of bees.

Obviously one of the benefits to keeping bees is the crop of honey provided but lets not forget why the bees make the honey in the first place….its certainly not for us to put in our tea? No, it is of course to help them survive the harsh winter months. But we can supplement their food/diet with sugar syrup and fondant I hear you cry! This I imagine is especially prevelant in more commercial apiaries but perhaps its a common practise with beginners through to experts. If so, should it be?

So we come to the crux of the issue. Is harvesting all the honey and the supplement of bees food detrimental to hive health; their immune systems in particular? The beneficial effects of honey have been well documented and we know it is a natural antiseptic. Surely honey as a complex solution that has evolved alongside the bee over tens of millions of years, cant be replaced with a simple sugar solution without having a detrimental effect on the bees.

Perhaps the lack of their natural food source is effecting their ability to combat disease and parasites? Could aggressive and greedy beekeeping techniques be contributing to the demise of the honey bee?

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Uses for Honey – Beauty Products

June 4, 2009 in ,

The role of honey in being beautiful is ever growing as cosmetics companies and health and beauty businesses catch on to the beneficial properties of honey although it has been used for centuries by woman to look beautiful.

The Creole women of Louisiana rub their entire bodies with a lotion consisting of honey and water, to which all possible assortments of spices are added. They use it not only as a cosmetic but as a cure for all kinds of skin trouble and sore throats. This application is also supposed to have the power to drive away evil spirits and to allow a clear view of the future. Egyptian women chewed perfumed pills made of honey and spices to sweeten their breath. In ancient Rome a high-priced semisolid paste, called “honey-mint,” was used for bad breath.

Honey has a nourishing, bleaching, astringent and antiseptic effect on the skin. The documented beautiful hands of Japanese women, which are often devoid of all wrinkles, is attributable to their daily use of fresh honey as a hand lotion. Woman in China use a paste made from crushed orange seeds and honey for spots/pimples and also to clear their complexions. They also use crushed seeds of peaches or apricots with honey for softening their hands.

An excellent hand softener (even described as the ‘best’) contains; honey, egg yolks and sweet almond oil. For chapped lips and skin mix together; honey (30 gm.) lemon juice (30 gm.) and Eau de Cologne (15 gm.), its an excellent remedy. Honey, glycerine, alcohol and lemon juice or citric acid are the ingredients present in most lotions for sunburn, chafed skin and freckles. Many skin-soaps contain honey. The famous Balm of Gilead was made of mutton tallow, castile soap, honey, beeswax and alum. Honey as a cosmetic remedy has an advantage over cold creams because it does not grow hair. As a cleanser of hands, honey equals even mechanic soaps in efficiency without making the skin rough.

Honey packs, honey masks and honey facials are getting more and more popular and its no wonder as it has a proven track record in beautifyiung woman for a long time. We would welcome any reviews of the products listed below.

Buy honey related cosmetics below:
Honey Beauty Products on Amazon

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Mead Recipes – ‘Wine School’

May 25, 2009 in

Mead has been around for centuries and is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages on Earth. There are many different variations of mead and it doesnt necessarily have to be thick and sticky. Mead can be light or dry or both. Mead has to main ‘schools’; the wine school and the beer school.

Some Wine School Mead Types –

  • Metheglin – is a spiced Mead
  • Pyment – is a Mead with either Grape Juice or wine added
  • Melomel – is a Mead with fruit
  • Cyser – is a Mead with apple juice

Recipes for wine school mead:

Metheglin (Spiced Mead)


3lb (or 3 x 454g) of Blossom Honey
Spices: –

  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • A few solid bits shaved off a whole nutmeg (not ground)

2 tea bags.
All purpose wine yeast
Yeast nutrient
8 pints (1 gallon) water


Wrap spices in a piece of butter muslin and tie into a bag with string (natural coloured – not blue!)

Put water in a large pot and bring to the boil. When boiling drop in the spice bag and the tea bags Remove tea bags after a few minutes, leave the spices in for about 20 mins when the flavour and smell should be pronounced but not overwhelming. Remove spice bag. (If you want it very spicy leave the bag in while you simmer the honey).

Add the honey and stir in well. Continue to allow to simmer for about an hour, skimming off any scum that may form. Don’t let it boil – just simmer.

Activate the yeast in a separate bowl in a warm place.

Cool the honey mixture until it is lukewarm, pour into a fermentation bin and then add the activated yeast and a yeast nutrient.

Let it sit in a warm place for a few days, stirring twice daily, until fermentation is past the most violent stage and it can be transferred into a demijohn for the rest of fermentation.

Keep in a warm place until the fermentation has slowed down and a sediment has built up (about two to three weeks depending on temperature). Rack into a clean demijohn and refit lock.

When it has cleared again and fermentation appears to has stopped (possibly only a week or two), de-gas and rack. Wait for a few weeks more to see whether a second fermentation is going to happen..

Comments: this cleared very quickly. First fermentation stopped only four weeks after start and wine was very clear. Second fermentation then started and was stopped after another three weeks. Needed a lot of de-gassing though. Achieved 16% alcohol.

Elderflower Pyment (or Elderflower Mead)


3lbs (3 x 454g) Blossom Honey
1.5 pints Tesco Apple and Elderflower Drink (from carton)
2 pints Elderflowers – freshly picked
Half a pint of Elderflower cordial (undiluted)
1 can white grape concentrate
6 pints water
All purpose wine yeast
Yeast nutrient
1 large Lemon


Bring half the water, cordial and drink to a quiet simmer and add the honey, stirring in well.
Add rest of water and flowers and allow to gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally and skimming off any scum that forms.

Strain off into a clean fermenting bin, removing all flowers.

Add the juice of the Lemon and chop the rind into two chunks and leave floating in the must.

Activate the yeast and add to the must with the yeast nutrient when it has all cooled to lukewarm.

Add the grape concentrate.
Leave in a warm place, stirring twice a day until the vigorous fermenting stage has slightly subsided. Remove the lemon chunks after a day or two.

Transfer into a clean demijohn and fit a fermenting lock.

Take the specific gravity reading at this point if you have a hydrometer.
After a week or so (when things have slowed a bit and a good sediment has formed) rack into a clean demijohn.

Continue to ferment until wine clears and bubbles stop (beware secondary fermentation – give it an extra week or so and keep an eye on it after bottling).. Take specific gravity again to see if finished. Bottle and store.

Comment: this made a very tasty aperitif type wine at 15%. It cleared beautifully.

Tayberry Melomel (fruit Mead)


  • 1kg fresh Tayberries washed and hulled (Tayberries are a type of Loganberry/Raspberry).
  • 3lbs of Honey
  • Yeast
  • Yeast nutrient,
  • 2 Teaspoons Citric acid
  • 7 pints Water


Bring water to the boil in a large pan and add in the Honey, and Tayberries reducing heat to a simmer.

Gently simmer for half an hour, taking of any honey scum that forms.

Allow to cool to lukewarm and add activated yeast, yeast nutrient, and citric acid.

Strain off into a fermenting bucket through a jelly bag and stand in a warm place for a few days until the most violent fermentation has calmed down.

Transfer into a demijohn using a muslin square in a funnel to get rid of any leftover bits of fruit. Fit a fermenting lock and allow to ferment.

After a couple of weeks, rack into a clean demijohn to clear it off the lees.

When fermentation has stopped extra sugar/water/honey may be added to get the desired taste. Wait another week or so to bottle in case that starts off a secondary fermentation.

This should produce a medium to light rosé table wine.


  • 2lbs Marjorie Seedling Plums (late Plums)
  • 3.5 lbs. Honey
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 1 Lemon
  • 5 pints water
  • 1 crushed Camden tablet
  • Yeast
  • Yeast nutrient


Soak plums in a solution of crushed Camden tablet and cold water for an hour to kill off the wild yeasts on their skins. (You should not boil the plums to kill the yeasts as this releases pectin and will make the wine cloudy. If you did boil the plums you would have to add pectolase to kill the pectin.)

Boil the water and add the honey, reducing it to a gentle simmer. Skim scum as necessary and continue to gently simmer for about half an hour.

Halve and stone plums (do not use any damaged fruit).

Cool the honey/water mixture to “off the boil” and then add plums, juice and quartered rind of the Lemon and the cinnamon stick.

Activate yeast and add to must. Add yeast nutrient.

Transfer to a fermenting bin and stand in a warm place for a few days, stirring daily.

After the first vigorous fermentation has calmed down, Strain through a jelly bag (squeeze plums a little but not too much as this will make the wine cloudy) into a demijohn.

Fit fermentation lock and leave in a warm place to ferment.

After a couple of weeks rack into a clean demijohn. Take the specific gravity at this point (or taste test) and if it is getting too dry add some more honey watered down with hot water. Do not add until cooled or you will kill the yeast and don’t make too watery or it won’t fit into the demijohn.

Continue to rack and monitor until fermentation stops and the wine clears.

As with all Mead – beware a quick finish where you think it has stopped then a second fermentation starts. Mead is notorious for false “stops”!

This makes a light rosé type table wine.

Note: After 9 days a batch of this had used up practically all its sugar and made 15% alc! I added more sugar to sweeten or it would have ended far too dry. It depends on your tastes in the final analysis!

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