Posted by: hencorner | August 6, 2014

Sweet Summertime…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

I can’t believe how great the weather has been this year; some of our fruits seem to be ripening early and it looks like a bumper year for honey from our busy bees. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…

We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

KFH 13_hen_corner_000B6096 copy_Jamie BakerDripping with honey…

Whilst we’ve had our bees at Hen Corner since August 2011, this will be our third honey harvest and is so far looking like the best ever! In 2012 we collected 25lb of honey and first prize for ‘Best Honey in London; we were thrilled with that as most other London Beekeepers were only taking an average of 5lb off each hive. Last year, if you remember, was very wet meaning that the bees couldn’t get really busy on the nectar forage until July; 15lb was our harvest in 2013, and that was between two colonies. But this year, I’ve got almost 60 super frames loaded with ripe sealed honey. If you look at the picture, you can see that when the honey is ready, after the bees have reduced the water content of the gathered nectar by over 50%, they seal it with wax preserving it indefinitely. Did you know that they found perfectly good honey stored in the pyramids of Egypt? Each of these super frames, like the one that I’m holding, can contain approximately 3lbs of honey – that’s 6 jars full! I’ve got my new honey jars at the ready and will be harvesting the liquid gold at the beginning of September, this gives the bees a few more weeks to gather nectar from the late flowering herbs which adds a lovely botanical taste to the finished honey.

Plum and Apple DaiquiriKeeping Cool…

With this warm weather, some of the classic orchard fruits of autumn are ripening now and, in a sunny conservatory, it doesn’t take long for fruit to go past their best. Recently, I prepared and poached a selection of fruit (plums, apples & pears) with plans of making a crumble for dessert, but a hot crumble, even if served with ice cream, isn’t always the dessert of choice after alfresco dining or a BBQ. So in the fridge the compote sat. Then, after seeing a River Cottage Food Tube film by Tom Hunt – The Natural Cook, I decided to try my hand at a fruity cocktail. Into the blender I put handfuls of ice, a cupful of compote and a nice large glug of white rum and I was jolly pleased with the results – An Orchard Daiquiri!

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

PP Pickle

Coming up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the next couple of months we will have three types of courses available:  Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London, Family Feathers and Fun! and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Why not come and join us?

 

Macarons

Book of the Blog Post:

Macarons

By Pierre Herme

This book was recommended to me by a chef friend and gives wonderfully illustrated step by step instructions for the most marvellous macarons. I am determined to master them!

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

 

Other News:
  • We took Sapphire, our cat, to the vet and she said “Yes at 18, she’s like a 90-year-old woman, but she happy and healthy, just old” so she’s back home eating the tuna…
  • We’ve welcomed a couple of teams from The Challenge to visit Hen Corner and hear them pitch their ideas for community projects.
  • We’ve bought hundreds of new jam jars ready for this year’s honey harvest and preserving season.
Jobs for next week:
  • Put the wasp guard on the Beehaus so they can’t steal the honey
  • Buy a Kitchen Aid *swoon* to make the macarons
  • Keep collecting the windfall apples to deter wasps from the lawn

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | July 21, 2014

Peachy Keen…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine

peachy keen: adj. excellent; fine, worthy

We’ve had a first and a last here at Hen Corner this week and the great weather is promising productivity in the Kitchen Garden. Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Peaches - the first fourBrenzone or Brentford?

OK, so I had to search Google to find an Italian town with a name similar to our own home, but with this glorious weather, there’s no need to look oversees for a Mediterranean climate. The bees are producing loads of lovely honey, we have almonds, grapes and figs on their respective trees and vines and a significant first for us this year was to harvest our first Italian flat peaches! Whilst we had good pollination rates last year, thanks to our little honey bees, we lost all of the fruit to peach leaf curl, a fungal infection that causes the leaves to blister and curl, restricting photosynthesis and causing the fruit to fail. This year, we built a polythene shelter for the tree which kept off the rain (which is responsible for spreading the fungal spores). There was still a bit of ‘curl’ but with our wonderfully warm summer, these beauties reached a good size and ripened well in the sunshine. If we managed this in year two, I can’t wait to see what the next few years hold…

Busy Bee Keepers…

We’ve had some fantastic Bee Keeping courses this year, several of them over subscribed! But as the season of weekly inspections comes to an end, so do our courses until next May. We’ve past the longest day of the year and the queen bees are slowing down in the egg laying department, the workers are busy making and storing as much honey as possible for winter and, when we’ve harvested some for us, we will treat the bees for the varroa mite. We use a natural thymol treatment which doesn’t harm the bees and helps remove most of the nasty bugs as they prepare for winter.

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

FFF SkylarComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the next couple of months we will have three types of courses available:  Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London, Family Feathers and Fun! and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Why not come and join us?

Beautiful Chickens: Portraits of Champion BreedsBook of the Blog Post:

Beautiful Chickens: Portraits of Champion Breeds
By Christie Aschwanden

This book fulfills the promise of the title, truly beautiful portraits of champion chickens… I was given the postcard version of this book a few years ago, then another friend gave me the full size book just last week. We love to flick through to see which breeds we have already had here at Hen Corner and then choose new breeds that we’d love to own one day!

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:
  • We’ve eaten the last of our asparagus for the year, we now let it fern to replenish the crowns for next year.
  • All sixteen chickens are laying nicely, loads of eggs, cakes and meringues
  • Our apple trees are bending under the weight of a massive crop, can’t wait until Cider Sunday!
Jobs for next week:
  • I need to take Sapphire, our 18 year old cat, to the vet. Sadly, I think it’s time for her to have a good long sleep.
  • I’m determined to master macarons, so watch this space
  • Make up some more super frames & boxes for the Beehaus. They are running out of space to store the honey!

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

Posted by: hencorner | June 14, 2014

The Perfect Combination…

Welcome back to Hen Corner!

As featured in Country Living Magazine
Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been combining things here at Hen Corner; Chickens, Bees and Ingredients. Has it been a recipe for success or failure? Readers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook will have seen some of the other things we’ve been up to recently…
We are currently building a new website, by subscribing to emails (box right) you’ll never miss a thing!

Combining ColoniesAll together now…

Whilst it was lovely to have enjoyed a mild winter and early spring, it’s been jolly confusing for the bees here at Hen Corner. Usually, the bees are pretty quiet after their winter lock in; when it’s too cold and wet for them to fly and forage (note: we don’t actually lock them in, they choose to stay close to their queen, huddled for warmth.). Traditionally, we bee keepers would start inspecting our colonies, opening the hives and checking what they are up to, from the beginning of May.  This year, though, as it was so warm back in April, the bees were behaving as if it were June! We had a large swarm (the natural reproduction of honey bee colonies), settling very high up on a 20ft Leylandii tree, and needed extra help from more experienced bee keepers in retrieving it. As some winters have been bad for bees in the past, I’d kept an extra colony as an insurance against potential losses. However, all three of my colonies thrived and so I made plans to give away the spare. After the swarm in April, we split a strong colony in two giving them extra space and reducing the chances of swarming, I also caught a cheeky caste swarm, so I started with three, gave away two and ended up with four colonies of bees! So, since April, as they’ve been busy rearing new queens and setting up home, not making honey for me, I’ve been planning how I could get them all back where I want them, focussed on the goal of gathering the golden stuff. Combining two colonies of bees is not that straight forward as they are very loyal and territorial. First, we need to locate both queens, decide who will rein, then dispatch the other. Placing one colony on top of the other (see the tower three blocks high) with a sheet of newspaper in between, allows them to slowly sense each other, nibbling through the paper and allowing the top colony access out of the hive through the bottom colony. Once all the paper has been cleared by the bees, the queen’s pheromone can be spread throughout both colonies uniting them as one. I’m pleased to say that the combining has worked well with these two, I’ll be combining two others this week.

Best BuddiesBest Buddies…

Well if bees are hard to combine, chickens can be rather feisty when holding their ground against the opposition. Our last post told the story of Madge, our newly adopted hen. Whilst she came with her own Eglu chicken house, we were keen that she made some new friends and joined in with the other big girls. However, if we had put her straight in with the other nine, they could have been very nasty, I’m sure you’ve heard of the pecking order, and done some serious damage to her. We needed to find her an ally. I thought our Copper Black, Duracell, would be hospitable, but couldn’t just pop her into Madge’s home as she would defend it with beak and claw. So, we developed a plan that meant change for all. The six bantams moved out of the Eglu Go and into the Eglu Classic (a new home for them). Duracell came out of the Eglu Cube and moved into the Eglu Go with Madge, as it was a new home for both of them, neither had ‘ownership’ so just got on with it. As you can see, they have now become best buddies and will soon be ready to defend each other as they both move into the Eglu Cube with the other eight, leaving the Eglu Go ready for Butternut to hatch chicks in again!

’tis the Season…

We were very lucky, recently, to have been given a box set of seasonings from Saison! We tried combining each blend with some of our favourite recipes, we published our results on Twitter and Facebook and our favourites can be found here.

 

More than Honey: Sara will be looking at the role of bees in so much of the food we produce in the UK, she will be looking at changes in farming and bee keeping over the years and the challenges and benefit of keeping bees today.Who is in the hive?: Sara will explain the structure of a honey bee colony, looking at the nest, the castes, the life-cycle, and roles of each bee.The Bee Keeping Year: Sara will outline the seasonal tasks & responsibilities of keeping bees today including suggestions as to how those interested can find out and experience more.
Read more at http://www.countrylivingfair.com/Spring/Content/Spring-Garden/4_10/#2Lq7bkl3oHGxTz3q.99

ITB beesComing up at the Corner…

This year we have planned courses right throughout 2014 giving everyone the opportunity for ‘A little bit of country life in London’. Throughout the summer we will have three types of courses available: Introduction to Bee Keeping, a practical hands on opportunity for small groups to inspect our honey making pollinators, Urban Hens, keeping chickens in London and Pick and Pickle, an introduction to preserving.

Bees at the Bottom of the GardenBook of the Blog Post:

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

By Alan Campion

This book, whilst first published in 1984 depicting beekeepers with beards and pipes, was highly recommended when I was studying my Basic Assessment a few years ago. It’s a quality book backed up with a wealth of experience and clearly describes how to unite two colonies as I have just done recently.

This book is available with many of our other favourites books from the Hen Corner Shop!

Other News:
  • Every bee is doing all that it should, at last
  • We have nearly finished replacing the raised beds with recycled plastic timber, I’m sure there will be photos soon
  • Our strawberries and raspberries are ripe and ready to go!
Jobs for next week:
  • Combine another two colonies of bees, leaving the wooden National hive as a bait for swarms
  • Construct cages around our almonds and peaches to protect them from the squirrels
  • Write a couple of articles for some local and national magazines

 

Have a good week yourself…Hen logo good

Join us on the Journey!

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