Forgive the dramatic headline — I couldn’t resist! You might recall that when we last left our two humble hives, we had decided that the weak one needed to be merged with the strong one. It’s not a light decision, because essentially you are creating a war between the hives. The weak hive’s queen gets eliminated, and chances are a few of her drones go down with her.
Well, two weeks later, it seems that our attempt to create one, thriving hive has worked. Before placing one hive on top of the other, we covered the bottom one with a thin layer of newspaper with holes poked through it. This is so the hives could gradually get used to each others scent, and the war wouldn’t be as bloody. We think it worked, because – look! — the paper is gone! The bees ate right through it. It seems like the two have joined together nicely; we can see new bee activity throughout. On the very top level, we had placed a container of sugar water. The water is all gone and there were a ton of dead bees piled in there. We’re not sure if they drowned, or if that is where they “buried” the dead when they were cleaning house. Either way, it wasn’t as bad as we had expected.
The upshot of the combination is that we now hopefully have one really strong hive that will have a better chance of surviving the winter. The downside is it means we won’t be pulling any honey this season — they still need to do a lot of food creating to so they have a stock through the cold season.
Click here to see previous Adventures in Beekeeping posts!
The other day I noticed we had a lot of zucchini in the kitchen. It’s that time of year. It’s been ages since I made zucchini bread so I thought I’d grate a few of them and put them to good use. I began searching for a recipe, and steered toward the chocolate ones. Then I steered a little more chocolatey and went with ones that had chocolate chips. Then I realized I didn’t have buttermilk in the house and was too lazy to head back out. That left this recipe from Chez Chloe, which was inspired of course by one of the all time great food blogs itself, Chocolate & Zucchini. The wonder of this recipe is that it calls for FOUR cups of shredded zucchini — most only use two. This makes it extra dense but still so delicious even our fussy five year old gobbled them up. I brought a pile into work for an early morning meeting and I could see that they they helped me win both hearts and minds. Here’s my take ….
Chocolate Chip Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
What You Need:
4 cups grated zucchini
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a shake of ground nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter (12T or 1 and ½ sticks), melted
1 cup chocolate chips (I used ½ semi-sweet and ½ bittersweet)
How To Make:
1. Preheat over to 350°F. Grease and flour muffin tins. Grate the zucchini — leaving skin on! — I used a food processor. Place it in a sieve to drain excess water. Press down with a paper towel to help make that happen.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. In an electric mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until smooth, about a minute. Add the melted butter and vanilla, beat until smooth. Fold in shredded zucchini. Add the flour to the mixture in three additions, stirring to combine after each addition. Finally, fold in the chips, stirring by hand.
4. Divide batter into into tins. I filled them up almost entirely, and make a dozen and a half muffins. Use less batter per tin if you want more.
5. Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes, or or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Flip onto a plate and late cool before serving — if you can wait!
It’s a sad fact that most of my adult life will be spent in an office chair. I’m lucky that ones I have been provided have mostly been very ergonomically friendly, such as the Herman Miller classic Aeron. But as more and more articles arise about the dangers of a life spent sitting, I’m looking for alternatives. I don’t know if I’m ready to switch to a standing desk — and one of these peddle spinning contraptions is much too much. Perhaps the best alternative is a ball chair. I’ve given into the wonders of a bouncy ball before, specifically when our daughter Isadora was first born. We kept a large yoga ball in bedroom, and in the wee hours in the morning when she was awake and I was zombie-like, I would sit and hold her my arms and bounce, bounce, bounce. It did wonders for her mood, not to mention my thighs. Unfortunately most ball chairs are look like they belong in some kind of hideous man-cave straight out of the eighties. That’s why this fuzzy beauty from Pottery Barn Teen caught my eye. How fun is that? Underneath the shag is an inflatable exercise ball. Ergonomic and chic? I’m worried that I’ll be laughed out of the Time Life Building where I work (remember, it’s where Mad Men is set — very traditional.) For $129 I might just have to give it a try.
What do you think? Do you work in an office all day? What kind of chair do you sit on?
Occasionally we like to do a deep dive into the recesses of our 1970s childhood memories and make something that is just not good for us. By that I mean it is a “faux recipe” — one made up mostly of processed foods and that would make Michael Pollen cringe. It’s funny how something that used to be so everyday is now an indulgence of sorts. At the top of this list is a banana dessert made of Jello instant pudding, Nilla wafer cookies, whipped cream and bananas. My husband refers to it as “white trash tiramsu.” The other night the book club gathered at my house to discuss (what else) Cooked, and I couldn’t resist serving up a big a dish of this light, fluffy, banana-y treat. It was enjoyed by all without too much guilt, and I guarantee it would be a welcome finale to any 4th of July meal.
Banana Nilla Wafer Pudding
WHAT YOU NEED:
2 small boxes of jello banana instant pudding and ingredients to make it.
1-8oz tub of cool whip whipped topping
1 box Nilla wafers
4 bananas cut in thin slices
HOW TO MAKE
1. Make the pudding according to instructions. Set aside to thicken in fridge if need be.
2. Grab a casserole dish and put a layer of cookies down on the bottom.
3. Using a spatula, spread a layer of pudding on top. Put a layer of sliced bananas on top of that, followed by whipped cream.
4. Repeat until the dish is full.
5. Chill for a few hours before serving.
If this recipe doesn’t quite jive with your current palette, here are a few more 4th of July treats to choose from:
This was the weekend we’ve been waiting for! Our bees have finally arrived. Chad picked them up from BetterBee on Saturday morning. When we had hives five years ago, they arrived in early May, but because it has been so cold here in the east, BetterBee postponed the distribution of the hives until June 1st. Unlike last time, when there was a spring chill in the air and the bees were a bit docile, this Saturday it was hot, hot, hot! As a result the bees seemed really active and eager to be in their new homes. We all donned our beekeeping suits and got in the on action — even Isadora, who was much more annoyed with the heat than she was the buzzing insects.
Here are some of the basics of Bee Hive Installation.
1. Give The New Hives A Drink
There are about 3 or 4 thousands bees in each of these boxes, and they make a lot of noise! While they are waiting for you install them, they are thirsty and anxious. We spritzed them with a sugar water solution to refresh and calm them.
2. Take The Queen Out First
The queen to each hive is in her own little box. It is on the nailed on top of the crate and needs to be gently pried off. You have to be careful doing this, because bees are not fans of vibrations — it makes them feel like they are being attacked. Take it nice and slow. You pull the queen’s box out and take off its lid. You will see that she has a sugar plug keeping her in there. You place the whole box into the hive, with a little wire mesh cradle to keep it in place. Eventually the queen will eat her way out and start getting busy making little bees.
3. Remove the can of sugar water in the box.
Each box comes with a tin can filled with sugar water that the bees have been living off of for days. You pull that out and place it near the hive. Be careful not to smush any bees while you do this. If you smush a bee it gives off a pheromone that makes other bees want to attack.
4. Shake out the bees into the hive.
The bees will just pour into the hives. It’s amazing to see! BetterBee suggestion that you put the whole crate inside the hives, but Chad prefers doing it this way. Afterwards, he just leaves the open crate near the front of the hive. Remaining stragglers will find their ways in!
5. Put the lid on the hives.
After you shake in the bees, place the honeycomb files back in carefully, and then place the lid on the hives. We put a heavy rock on the top stop any critters (or a heavy wind) from blowing it off.
Here’s another great article on how to install a beehive, from Treehugger.
Next update comes in two weeks!