Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Top Bar Hive: Vol. 1

Finally!  I'm moving ahead with my plan for beekeeping.  I've already purchased one langstroth hive (which is painted and ready to go), but this cold wet spring has kept me from getting my bees.  Hopefully, I will have the nuc this week some time.

In the meantime, I built my very own top bar hive.  I read just about every plan on the internet, and realized that I'm just not as Type A as I thought I was.  There are so many fancy top bar hives out there.  I only wanted simple (and cheap).  Also, I'm only somewhat handy.  Plus, I'm impatient.  That combination doesn't lend well to intricately constructed hives, or anything else.  Luckily Mr. Peanutbutter has loads of handy-manly-man-tools which sped the process and made things super easy.

My hive is a little smaller than what I found online.  Making my first hive this way was easier for me.  I can always add to it later if I need to in order to increase space. (I have a plan for adding a 'super' to the end of the hive.

The hive measures 3 feet long x 8 feet wide.  There are 26 top bars - 15 brood and 11 honey.


2 6ft sheets of 1 x 8 for sides, bottom board and ends
1 6ft sheet of 1 x 12 for top bars ( cut into sections of 1 1/4 inch for brood, 1 1/2 inch for honey)
nail gun and 2 inch nails courtesy of Mr. Peanutbutter
drill & drill bit for bee holes

I just nailed it all together like a giant shoe box.  Mr. Peanutbutter is going to make me a top as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The twelve days of Christmas

Well, I'm a day late or so....

Nonetheless, I needed an opportunity to post some new Christmas cookie recipes and here we are.  Being the francophile that I am, I wanted to make as many french cookie recipes as I could this year.  I'm really not much of a baker, so this has been an even bigger challenge for me than you might think.

However, I'm happy to announce that I've had great success with my first attempt at making madeleines - which are these yummy little shell shaped cakes.  Finding the madeleine baking pan was the hardest part.

I adapted an Emeril recipe, and made mine with almond extract.  You can leave them plain or ice them.  I decided to make a very simple orange glaze, which goes nicely with the almond.

Almond Madeleines:

4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick of butter

Set oven to 350.
Beat eggs, vanilla and almond extract on high until creamy - about 10 minutes.  Separately, mix flour and baking powder.  Add 1/2 of flour mix to egg mixture and mix on medium speed until blended.  Add the rest of the flour mix.  Melt stick of butter, and let cool.  Slowly add melted butter to mixture and blend well.  Let batter sit for 10 minutes.
Spray pan w/ non-stick and dust with flour. (Trust me, you should do both.  I tried skipping the flour dusting and it didn't turn out so well.) Fill little shells 3/4 full (these babies rise quite a bit), and bake for 18-19 minutes.
Let cakes cool completely before icing.

Orange glaze:

1/2 cup of milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 tsp orange extract
powdered sugar

slowly bring milk to soft boil and then reduce heat. Add butter and extract.  Add in powdered sugar and whisk.  Continue to add sugar until icing is slightly thickened.  Brush icing onto cakes.  Store on parchment paper in an airtight container - otherwise they will stick to each other.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Glass Tree Mosaic: Mission Accomplished

A big round of applause to Victor, Mitch and Joe who completed the installation of the giant Recycled Bottle Glass Mosaic at Saint Louis University Medical School Campus.  Tons of work went into this project and it was a huge learning experience.  In case you missed the previous posts on this project, the tree is made entirely of recycled bottle glass.  The trunk of the tree is made from shards of Schlafly beer bottles, while the leaves are made from shards of various wine bottles.  All of the leaves, and sections of the tree were made as tiles - fired in kilns and then pieced together.

The first images are of the installation in progress, with the final photo showing most of the tree. Of course, the photos don't do the work justice.  So, if you're in the area be sure to stop by and have a look for yourself!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


OMG blogosphere...O-M-G!

Just yesterday I was telling you about my bee adventure, right?  Well, yesterday afternoon I noticed a lot of honey bees hanging out in our bird bath.  I watched them for a bit and tried to see where they were flying with no luck.  During my required reading today I learned the different dances that the worker bees do and that the round means they are close to the hive.  Granted, I'm a total novice but I swear they were doing some sort of round jig away from the water and then across the street.  So, I took Little Bird in the stroller with camera in hand and went on a bee-finding adventure.

Les filles and Monsieur Yellow Jacket
I seriously tried thinking like a bee and where I would like to live, and then I saw it.  The dead tree in the yard across the street.  The recent storm had rent the tree in two and the hollow core was exposed.  I was giddy (yes, I really was) when we walked toward the dead tree and I saw all the bees (they are now known as Les filles) headed straight for a knot just below the large hollow.  Tons of them!  I found the hive!

I am so freakin' excited.  I had planned on trying to bait a hive based on the bees in the bird bath, but now I'm certain I'm doing it.  Mr. Peanutbutter doesn't share my excitation and isn't really chomping at the bit to help me build a top bar hive.  So, over the next week I'm going to try to crank out a rudimentary hive to lure a swarm because I'm thinking that the hive is huge and may be enticed to split off.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Yes, blogosphere, I'm smitten.  With beekeeping, that is.  I know, you're thinking "Really, Jelly?  Another project?".

Well....in a word: yes.

Actually, I've been thinking about bees for some time now.  I'll research it and think "Nah. Too much work."  And then I'll start thinking about it again a few months later, and the cycle will start all over again.  The difference is that this time two things have happened:

1.  We're buying a house with 6.5 acres and my desire to be as sustainable as possible/try my hand at small urban farming has skyrocketed.

2.  I discovered Top Bar Beehives.  I'll admit that the traditional hives (by this I mean Langstroth) intimidated me and thus the cycle described above.  But, I know that I can make a top bar hive on my own.  Mr. Peanutbutter is also happy that he doesn't have to build anything for me.  Although, it is his nature to help-out and I'm sure that he will one day be making hives.  But that is a story for another time.

This one (above) is asthetically pleasing to me, but I'll probably start with the one below because that seems to be more my skill level at this point.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The fun never ends

I just can't stop myself.  The alpaca is too much fun.  I made these little balls yesterday.  It's a great way to use the second cuts and not-so-pretty fiber that doesn't comb out.  Waste not, want not.

(grrrrrr...blogger won't let me keep the rotated image.  Sorry it's sideways.)

Speaking of never ending fun......

The glass tree project continues.  I'm up to 202 leaves now.  I think I have another 100 or so to go.  We (ok, I) realized that there is no way we can get everything done by the end of July with my part-time firing schedule.  So, we are adding a new member to our glass production family.

Victor and Mitch are on their way to Hannibal today to pick up the new (used) big-bad-mama-jama glass kiln.  The idea is that I will set the firing schedules and show the guys how to load the kiln, so that they can fire the larger pieces of the tree trunk down at Victor's studio The Bleu Monkey.  This will save a lot of time with firings.  With my regular full time job in the ER, a 1 year old, a house to sell/keep clean, and grocery shopping, etc., I just can't do it all.  This was a much larger project than I realized. (sigh)