Barn swallows

We have quite a thriving flock of barn swallows that return every spring to build their nests, raise their young, and follow the tractor when we mow hay. And every spring, a pair decides that the barn isn’t good enough for them, and they want to build a nest in the corner of the porch.

This year, I installed a piece of scrap wood for them to use as the foundation for their nest, because the poor things kept trying to attach the mud to the aluminum, and it would simply fall off.

The results?

Day 1 of nest building:

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5 days later, complete with chicken feathers:

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Pretty soon there will be babies squawking for food!

Honey

It’s not much, but I got some honey from the hives today! One of the hives had been exhibiting swarming behavior, so during a calm period yesterday afternoon, I went to the beeyard and did some hive maintenance – cut the grass down around the hives and checked all the hives to see how everyone was doing.

Hive #2 was the one acting like it wanted to swarm, but everything looked good. They haven’t been as excited about the Flow honey super as hive #3. I removed the Flow super, made sure all the bees were out, and replaced it with a standard 10-frame honey super. I looked over the Flow frames, and the bees had started to fill in the gaps, but there wasn’t much going on in the frames. We’ll see if they like the traditional frames better.

Hive #3 had build some lovely comb up through the queen excluder and to the Flow frames. This lovely comb was filled with honey! I scraped everything clean and put the comb aside. They are all over the Flow frames, and I will check again in a couple of weeks to see their progress. It’s not as fast as I was expecting, but with the cool weather we’ve been having, I have to wonder if that’s not part of the delay.

Hive #4 is perking right along but honey super for them yet. They also had some comb built on the queen excluder – that got scraped off and will be put in a container for when I need wax for a salve or something.

Here it is – our first honey “harvest” from the Apiary at Innisfree, along with the clean wax (on the left). Delicious!

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In case you’re wondering, the best way to eat this honey is to pop a piece of the comb and chew – honey flavored “gum”!

Whole grain lemon donuts

Finally got around to using my new silicone donut pan, and tested out a baked lemon donut recipe I found. Of course, I modified the recipe to what you see below 🙂2016-05-10 09.18.28

1 1/2 cup whole-grain flour

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 egg

6 oz plain yogurt with lemon juice to taste

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup milk

Because I used all whole-grain flour, I mixed everything up and let it soak in the fridge overnight, then baked at 325* for 20 minutes (donuts were lightly browned on top). Glazed with 1 cup powdered sugar + 4 Tbl lemon juice whisked together.

 

They turned out pretty good – not too dense, and when glazed, a good lemon flavor.

For next times:

  1. Add more lemon juice to the yogurt – the unglazed donut didn’t have much lemon flavor, but when the glaze was added, it tasted very good.
  2. Roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture instead of glazing with lemon
  3. Use applesauce or a banana instead of olive oil