Mirabelles jam

Mirabelles jam is one of my favorite things to make. Because of the dry weather, a lot of white and yellow prune/plum varieties don’t taste as great as they do most years. Most batches I bought and received have contained many dry-ish fruits that aren’t nearly as sweet as they should be. No problem, I…

Drought resistant garden additions

The past three summers we’ve had have been incredibly hot and dry by Belgian standards. Many naturally occurring nectar producing flowers, plants and trees are feeling the burden of the changed weather and are blooming earlier than usual, or not at all. The effect this has on honeybees is easy to see for a beekeeper….

Robber bees

An annoying and frustrating part of honeybee behaviour, is that of ‘robbing’. When hives have many forager-bees and can’t find good sources of nectar, these foragers might go looking for that nectar in other hives. In most of north-western Europe, July and August are the months where it is most common for this behaviour to…

New garden!

During the last few months, my apiary and I have moved to a new location. Moving during a pandemic was certainly a bit of a strange situation, especially with lockdown measures in place. Luckily, these have lessened and I have completely moved. So! What’s this new garden situation we’re dealing with? I’ve ended up in…

White chocolate tiramisu

I love white chocolate! I would put white chocolate in everything if I could. This particular addition of white chocolate to tiramisu has turned out great. The only tricky part of this recipe is melting the chocolate without burning it. White chocolate burns much easier than milk, or dark chocolate. You don’t want to heat…

Will my hive make it through winter?

It’s wasn’t December yet when I made this discovery, but I think one of my nucs from this spring is going to have a hard time getting through winter. When I checked the hive by looking up through the wire-screen on the bottom, I saw hundreds of dead bees. All my other hives clean the…

Traditional Flemish witloof -Belgian endive- casserole

Witloof is a very common vegetable in Belgium and the Netherlands. Outside these two countries it’s less common, but not completely unknown. Witloof is a relative to radicchio but is grown in the dark. This is probably the reason why it’s a difficult vegetable to completely forget. Roots are given a season to grow outside…

What have I done?! (Beekeeping)

This has been my first year with ‘real grown-up’ beehives. This meant I needed to make new colonies, nucs, artificial swarms, to prevent my bees from swarming. Although I haven’t lost any colonies and I’m now up to six working hives, I really should have put more care into selecting queens. I now have two…

Simple creamy zucchini soup

Unless the squash bugs destroyed your zucchini plants before they gave you any fruits, you’re probably drowning in summer squash by now. Zucchini are one of the easiest crops to grow and they seem to produce lots and lots of fruits, no matter what weather they get. It’s always great to be able to eat…

Pear-rhubarb turnover-cake with honey

The summer honey-crop has been harvested last week, and I am busy processing and preparing the honey to be ready to sell. This involves skimming the impurities off the top of the honey in the buckets. I’m too proud of my first honey crop to just throw this honey away. Even though there are some…

Multiplying hives and growing new colonies

Since May, the three beehives I got as nucs last year have been giving me opportunities to make new colonies. Making new colonies is a normal part of the development in a production hive, as it mimics the natural way bees reproduce. In nature, honeybees would swarm. This would mean growing their original hive to…

Our first ducklings this year!

Earlier this week I was very discouraged about how my nests were doing. There has been more light-and noise pollution in our neighborhood and it had an impact on the way my animals behaved. I was worried more than one broody duck/chicken had abandoned her nest. Sorry about the shaky footage, but those are my…

Blueberry crumble cake

I normally don’t use blueberries in cakes or pies, but I wanted to give this recipe a try. It isn’t a very high-maintenance cake, you don’t have to cut any parchment paper to size and there isn’t any complicated decorating to be done. Just blueberries and a simple crumble topping. If I had to improve…

Sweet potato and tomato soup

This recipe is the last one I’ll be making with the tomato sauce I canned from last year’s harvest. I always try to preserve a lot of tomatoes as sauce for spaghetti, soup, or tomato pie. The herbs I’m using are fresh from the garden, but I’m still buying sweet potatoes from the supermarket. Despite…

New additions!

Last week I went shopping for some new Belgian hare breeding does. I couldn’t find any private sellers who had mature does available, so I went to the ‘konijnenmarkt’ in Mol, which is a small town on the Belgian/Dutch border. The market is over 100 years old and sells all sorts of small livestock; rabbits,…

Nature – All The Creator’s Craft…

Originally posted on Dimma's Ink:
Take a decent look at the nature surrounding me Look how perfect it is… With intent, look keenly at the scenery it creates… Tell me, what do you see? Tell you what I see? I shall! It rings in my bowels as a melodious sonnet, The art work of…

Recipe: Mango-coconut pie using duck eggs

I finally found some coconut flour for sale in my area and I immediately wanted to use it in something delicious. I stumbled on this recipe in one of my mom’s old cook books and I adapted it to work with coconut flour, not wheat flour. I also used duck eggs instead of chicken eggs….

Varroa treatment for honeybees with oxalic acid

In my previous post I mentioned one of the methods I use to get rid of varroa mites; sugar syrup with oxalic acid. I combine two kinds of treatment, both are appropriate at different times of the year. I currently don’t use any other chemical (synthetic or natural) than oxalic acid. Oxalic acid occurs in…

Carniolan queens

Last week, the weather was so nice I decided to do a hive check. I combined the hive check with the first varroa-treatment for 2019. My treatment plan to keep my hives low in varroa numbers has been taught to me by my teacher, Corneel Dewindt, who has been a beekeeper for several decades and…

Stormy weather and baby animals

The weather is still quite stormy, has been for about two weeks, and it’s keeping me from doing much outside. Despite this, granny duck, has decided to try to start a nest again. I am collecting duck eggs for her to sit on but keeping her nest clean and free from chicken eggs is proving…