Friday, 20 May 2016

Bee tongue!

It's been a while since we've posted a backyard bee picture...

I've never noticed a bee flying with its tongue out until I took this photo:

For a better view here's my zoomed in version:

 Neat huh?

Friday, 6 May 2016

Current reading list

Some of the books we're currently reading....

Food52 Vegan by Gena Hamshaw. Being a vegetarian with strong vegan leanings, I love a good vegetarian or vegan cookbook. I've been following Gena's blog for awhile now and it is full of recipes I want to try. Her creamy curry quinoa is a dinner favourite around here. So when her latest cookbook, Food52 Vegan, came out I knew I wanted a copy.  Beautifully photographed, the recipes are healthy, delicious and easy to follow.  Plenty of meals will be coming from this gem.


The Simple Home by Rhonda Herzel. Rhonda is the author behind the blog Down To Earth, as well as the book of the same name. She is a thoughtful and practical woman who has simplified her lifestyle to suit herself and her family, and in the process saved money, enjoyed greater health, happiness and self-reliance, learned new skills and built the life she wanted. The book shows that living simply is a real and fulfilling alternative to a consumerist lifestyle. It is divided into 12 monthly chapters showing how tasks can fit into the year.  Rhonda shows that living frugally is not about being cheap or miserly, but that it is a mindset that will help you achieve your goal of living well and being content.  I'm enjoying this book and would definitely recommend it to others. Her first book, Down to Earth, is definitely going on the reading list.

Simple Matters by Erin Boyle. Still on the subject of living simply, this book is by the author of the blog Reading My Tea Leaves. It approaches living simply from the perspective of a family living in a tiny apartment in New York.  

This book approaches sustainability through conscious choices such reducing consumption, making your own natural cleaners and beauty products and using your purchasing power in a thoughtful, ethical and sustainable manner.  It's practical tips for living in a tiny space are also relevant to those of us who live in larger homes. Definitely worth reading.

What books are on your reading list?

Monday, 2 May 2016

Flow frame harvest at Collingwood Children's Farm

In April the VAA Melbourne section volunteers who run the Collingwood Children's Farm (CCF) Apiary organised a Flow frame harvest day.  To cater for the interest in this free event and to make numbers manageable, registration was required. Needless to say, spots filled up fast. 

The day was organised as 2 sessions  - morning and afternoon. Each session included:
  • an information session on the history of the Flow frame hive at the CCF and experiences managing it
  • an explanation and demonstration of harvesting from the Flow frames
  • honey tasting and a final information and Q&A session

Here's Mike in the apiary describing to the group (all on the other side of the fence) how he modified an already constructed langstroth hive to hold the Flow frames:

And showing everyone what an empty Flow frame looks like:

Here's the hive containing the Flow frames (in the top box), with the harvesting equipment  in the foreground, ready to set up.

There weren't a lot of bees in the box but some honey was capped:

 After checking each frame, a frame to harvest was selected and the plug at the bottom of the frame was removed:

The hose was then attached to the frame. The other end of the hose went straight into a honey container with an opening sized to match the tube.

Next step was to insert the special Flow frame 'allen keys' into the top of the frame, ready to open it. Opening can be done with one key but from previous experience it had been found that two keys worked better.

 Then it was time turn the keys to open the frame

It took a few minutes before the honey started to flow, but flow it did.

 Straight into the honey container:

While the honey was being collected, the group headed back to the shed for the final information part of the session.  Other experiences using the Flow frames and harvesting were shared and lots of questions were answered.

People were keen to taste the honey that was harvested:

It was a very well run and informative day and a credit to the people who organised it.  The frames had gone in late in the season so they weren't full, but there was enough honey in them to demonstrate how to go about harvesting.  Those in the audience who had Flow Hives, and those still waiting to get their Flow Hive, now have a much better understanding of how to manage this sort of hive as well as how to harvest from it.