{the season for gathering in agricultural crops}

Tractor Parade

We, along with thousands of others in the Green Mountains of Vermont, have just gathered the last of our crops for the 2016 agriculture season. For some the final picking was tomatoes, corn or pumpkins, and for others they are in the midst of harvesting bushels of apples. My husband and I have just completed our tenth season of honey harvesting. We have come a long way since our first harvest in 2007. One colony of honey bees provided one fun evening; friends came to help us with the honey extraction. We spun out ten frames of honey on a borrowed hand-cranked honey extractor. It was EXCITING. Fast-forward ten years — we spend weeks spinning out thousands of honey laden frames, ours as well as fellow beekeepers that use our honey extraction services

A nice way to wrap up this labor intensive time, for us and other farmers in the vicinity of the Spear's Corner Store, is to gather as a community at the "East Charlotte Tractor Parade". Nearly three thousand Vermonters come out to watch the slow-paced procession of over one hundred tractors parade down Spear street.

What I find extra special about this rural entertainment, is that they let folks like us participate in the tractor parade. You see, we don’t really have a powerful diesel engine tractor with huge chunky tires or any other sort of agricultural/farm tractor.

East Charlotee Tractor Parade
Photo Credit: Scott Wilson

Nope! We have a Cub Cadet LAWN TRACTOR! And each year my beekeeper husband sets out to build a beekeeping themed float, which he pulls behind his 'lil tractor. He humbly straddles his seat, taking his place behind all the big tractors, smiling at the parade watchers while he trundles along. 

East Charlotte Tractor Parade
Photo Credit: Hannah Smith

All the while, I’m on the green in front of the Spear’s Corner Store working our honey booth along with the other vendors that have been invited to participate. It's a great time to visit with friends that stop by and meet new folks. 

Tractor Parade Honey Vendor

However, each year I try to steal away from the Heavenly Honey Apiary booth just in time to see my hubby’s tractor drive by and snap a picture of him as he’s pumping out smoke towards the crowds with his beehive smoker.

2016 Tractor Parade
Photo credit: Hannah Smith
His grin is from ear to ear, and this makes me smile. 

See you at the parade next year...

2016 Tractor Parade
Photo Credit: Hannah Smith
Thank you Carrie Spear for organizing this event each year. You are the bees knees!

Photo credit: Valarie Wilson, unless otherwise noted. 


What is Raw Propolis? Quick answer -- Raw Propolis is a sticky resinous material from tree and plant resin. The honey bee collects it for its antibiotic qualities to protect the inside of their hive, their own immune systems, and to coat any unwanted things that enter their hive (think mice in the winter time, and we beekeepers find them mummified in the spring).
Who makes propolis? The amazing honey bees!
What and why do humans use propolis for? Propolis is used as an added supplement for its wellness and medicinal benefits. It has been a folk medicine before folk was the cool. Seriously –
“In Folk Georgian medicine, they used ointments with propolis to cure some diseases. There was the custom of placing a propolis cake on the belly button of the new-born baby and also they rubbed children’s toys with propolis. In folk medicine, the use of propolis is widely known especially for the treatment of corns. People inhale propolis in case of affections of respiratory tracts and of the lungs. It is also efficient for burns and angina. Propolis was used effectively on wounds by doctors during the Anglo- Boer war and during World War II. It was also used in hospitals from 1969.” (Makashvili, 1978)

Propolis is thought to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties; thus it may support the function of a healthy immune system and protect against certain ailments. There is ongoing scientific research for the use of propolis in its treatment for human health. I suggest you do your own research to learn more about the health benefits, you may just end up loving this product like I do!

Not only is it taken orally, it is used in creams, cosmetics and other health related products. I have been reading up on other countries that are using it to treat wounds, cutaneous warts and certain types of cancer treatments.

What do you do with propolis?  It is suggested that you consume raw propolis in small quantities daily. For example roll a pea size ball (one gentleman in the next town south of me swears by this. He offered to come scrap my bee frames if he could have some of the propolis that he scraped off!) and suck, chew or swallow it. Another way to take orally is to chop (or grind while frozen in a clean coffee grinder*) fresh propolis and mix it in with raw honey. Or take a daily dose of a propolis tincture or propolis oil. You can purchase or make either product yourself!
How do I personally use it? During the months when my immune system is weaker (usually September – February) I take a daily tincture, by dropper, for prevention. When sick, e.g. the case of strep throat that I had a few weeks back, I took it about 3 times per day, for about a week after no systems. I also have one tooth that has been extremely sensitive owing to a slightly receding gum line, so after the dentist tried all of her tricks, I decided to press a small ball of propolis on the sensitive area. I did this several times over a couple of weeks and received significant improvement.

➤Tip. Note that propolis is sticky and slightly peppery (so if you keep running your tongue over it, you may distribute it to areas you weren’t intending and feel a little warm on your tongue). It will probably stick to your teeth until it has fully dissolved, so you may give a grin with a slightly yellowish tinge! (Yes, I did that one day, but the person was kind and didn’t make judgement on what I thought looked like days-old unbrushed teeth) This does go away, and it was so worth the benefit that I received. I now use propolis oil, and whenever the sensitivity resurfaces, I simply rub some of the propolis oil on the affected area (no funky looking teeth).  
Where can I buy raw propolis? You can visit Heavenly Honey Apiary's website or go directly to our online shopping cart to see if we have any. It is produced by our Vermont honey bees in limited quantities each season.

➤Tip. If you wish to make your own tincture, give yourself about three weeks; one to order the propolis and two for making the infusion. I believe the oil solution takes less time if you use the heat method, but about the same time as the tincture if you use the cold oil method.
Do you use propolis? If so please share a success with the rest of us, or your favorite way of using propolis.
Humor me. Have you ever smiled only to find yellow bee propolis goo on your teeth? I’m certain I’m not the only. Come on be truthful!

*You may wish to purchase an inexpensive coffee grinder to use just for your propolis (think sticky blades). Check out your favorite second hand shop and give an old mill new purpose!
Source: Makashvili,Z. A. (1978) From the history of propolis. In Remarkable hive product: Propolis. Scientific data and suggestions concerning its composition, properties and possible use in therapeutics. APIMONDIA Standing Commission on Beekeeping Technology and Equipment, Bucharest.

Important Notice Disclaimer - This site does not provide healthcare advice. Consult your physician before starting any nutritional supplement program. 

This post is about my personal experience with propolis, and it is not intended in anyway to be medical advice. Bee products may cause allergic reaction in some individuals. 

3 Nifty Uses for BEESWAX

1 oz. beeswax blocks

1. Got stuck stuff? Beeswax is a natural lubricant: It will help you with sticky doorjambs or wooden bureau drawers. Are your windowsills giving you a workout just opening them? Beeswax will help get all these fixtures moving freely. Simply take a beeswax block and rub it on the affected area. Try opening and closing a few times to distribute the wax. Apply more as needed.
2. Quilter & Sewing Thread: Quilters love natural beeswax. They run their thread across the beeswax several times, to prevent tangling and aid in a smooth transition through the fabric. Hand sewers strengthen their thread by running it through the wax, and then heat seal it by running a warm iron over it (some do this between two clothes others heat it right on the thread that has been run through the wax).
3. Wood Pick-Me-Up: Keep your food-grade wooden spoons, bowls and cutting boards like new—for decades to come, by making this homemade conditioning rub.
Recipe: Combine 2 ½ oz. food grade mineral oil and 9 ½ oz. pure beeswax in a double boiler. Place double boiler over medium heat until beeswax is melted. Stir to combine with a clean wooden stick such as Popsicle sticks. Pour the mixture into a recycled wide mouth glass jar or tin. Let cool. If rub is too thin or thick for your liking, simply reheat in double boiler and add more mineral oil if too thick, and more beeswax if too thin.

How to use: On a soft clean cloth (cutup used t-shirts work great!) dab a dollop rub into wood using a circular motion. Add more rub and repeat until the entire surface has been conditioned. Let it set to dry for several hours or overnight then buff it with a soft clean cotton cloth.

➤Tip. Use a short glass jar/tin so that you can get your fingers easily into the opening.

There are are so many uses for beeswax. What are some of your favorites?

Shop for beeswax blocks here. You'll be taken to our online Square store. 

2 Recipes Using Fresh Bee Pollen

The honey bees have been collecting bee pollen and sharing some with us. I am so thankful for this because I'm ready to get it back into my daily routine. 

I had a challenged winter of health. Just picture an assembly line, and this is how it went: flu, pneumonia, bronchitis with a sinus infections. With no break in-between. Then three weeks later another humdinger sinus infection tried to take me down for three weeks. 

"It's time to build up my immunity and raw honey and bee pollen
   are on the top off my list. 
Fresh Bee Pollen

I've been experimenting with some recipes, and I'm excited to share them with you because I'm really enjoying them!

Bee Pollen, Southern Greens, Mango & Honey Smoothie

Bee Pollen Southern Greens & Mango Smoothie


1 Cup Vanilla Almond Milk
4 oz. Southern Greens Blend
5 oz. Frozen Mango Chunks
1 Tsp to 1 Tbls Raw Honey
1 Tbls Fresh Bee Pollen
Blend in blender until fully smooth.

I had been drinking these smoothies for days before it was time to try something different. Now I've heard one person say don't cook with bee pollen because it will destroy the benefits. But here's my thought process, and I leave it up for you to decide.  All the food sources that we cook and eat, still come out with a lot of the nutrients and it's very lightly cooked in this recipe. And different this is, from the pollen and the maples syrup that's been aged in bourbon barrel. Enjoy!

Pollen Honey Oat French Toast w/Bourbon Maple Syrup 

Bee Pollen French Toast

(Breakfast for 1)

2 slices Honey Oat artisan bread

1 Egg
1/4 Cup Almond Milk (or milk of your choice)
Sprinkle of Cinnamon & Nutmeg
1 Tbls Fresh Bee Pollen (save a few to sprinkle on top).

Get a seasoned cast iron skillet warmed up (not too hot). Whisk mixture ingredients together in a wide enough bowl to fit a slice of bread. Soak both sides of bread in mixture. Cook until nicely browned on both sides. I like to serve with a tiny pat of butter, then sprinkle the remaining bee pollen pellets on top, drizzle a tablespoon of Bourbon Barrel Pure Vermont Maple Syrup. Yum!

Let me know how you like them, and be creative.

Bee Well,