Archive for July, 2012

Bee Swarm

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

My husband and I used to be beekeepers.  About 5 years ago we decided to hang it up for a while.  As a two business household, we found ourselves increasingly busy, and knew we were going to have to choose to let a few things go.  A man made us a good offer for all of our equipment, so we decided to take him up on it and sold it all except for a bee suit and a smoker.  For some reason, my husband couldn’t part with the suit and smoker.

This spring a colony of bees set up housekeeping in a burn pile on the edge of our property.  Because of the drought this summer, we haven’t been able to burn the pile.  My husband figured he would get into it this winter and remove the honey before we burned the pile in the spring.  It’s one of those locations that doesn’t offer a way to save the hive.

Today we were treated to a sight that had us yearning for our beekeeping days.  The colony in the burn pile decided to swarm and settled on a branch in a nearby mulberry tree.

Normally, swarm season here in Indiana is during May and June.  We were a little surprised to see a young, newly formed colony swarming in July, especially considering the drought and how little forage has been available.  I called another beekeeper I know to see if he wanted to come catch the swarm, but he wasn’t available, so the swarm is most likely going to fly away over the next few days and set up housekeeping elsewhere.

I guess this is going to make my husband’s job of removing the honey from the burn pile a little easier.  Swarming is basically a part of bee sex, and one of the ways they propagate. For a number of reasons a hive will decide it needs to form a new colony, so it will raise a few new queens.  Prior to swarming, a bunch of worker bees will gorge themselves on honey to take with them to their new home.  Once gorged on honey they will leave the hive, usually settling somewhere nearby while they wait for scouts to direct them to their new location.

This swarm may leave right away, they may stay on this branch for a couple of days, and in rare cases they may even begin building comb right there on the branch.  One of the reasons it was so easy to get in close to take these pictures is due to the bees being gorged on honey.  In this gorged state, their flight is slow and lazy, and they are very mild mannered.  They are incredibly intent on the task at hand, very non-aggressive, and not inclined to sting.

New Belgium Lips of Faith – Tart Lychee Beer Review

Thursday, July 26th, 2012


This summer I gave myself permission to get some rest. I realized I needed to take a break from a lot of my self-imposed busy-ness.  I’ve taken a break from blogging, experimental cooking, knitting, gardening, etc.  I did plant a garden, but due to extreme drought here in northeastern Indiana, it’s barely producing enough for fresh eating, and not much extra.  What I have been doing this summer is reading, watching old movies, hanging out with my family, and of course rating beer, and attending beer related events with my beer-god of a brother-in-law.

To give you an idea of how much tasting I’ve done, here are my stats from the past 3 months: 285 beers encompassing 66 of 73 styles.  I should qualify that many of these ratings have not been done by drinking a whole 12 ounces of each beer.  Many times my brother-in-law and I will visit a brewpub and order a tasting flight, which we share.

This summer I discovered I really like sour beers (lambics, saisons, sour/wild ales).  One of my favorites of the summer has been a very tasty American wild ale, Tart Lychee from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith Series.


New Belgium Lips of Faith Tart Lychee
Commercial Description:  56% ale aged in oak, 44% ale brewed with lychee and cinnamon. To sweet and sour! In celebration of one of the greatest combinations ever, lychee fruit brings tropical sweetness to the party hosted by Felix, our golden wood-aged sour beer. Cinnamon sticks were invited to spice things up and so are you! Get in on the tasty revelry that is Tart Lychee.

My take: This wild ale poured a hazy golden color with a moderate creamy head with some nice lacing. Both the aroma and taste of this beer really surprised me.  It was an interesting combination of elements I would have never dreamed of putting together, but it totally worked!  In the nose I detected creamy lactic, sweet, tart, fruity, and vanilla and cinnamon aromas.  The flavor was similar to the aroma, but with more complexity.  The flavor was light musty yeast, earthy oaky malt, sweet lychee fruit, tart creamy lactic acid, and a definite cinnamon heat in the finish. The brew had a light tingly body that was very refreshing.

Since I first tried this beer a few weeks ago, this is the one I’ve found myself craving at the end of a hot day… and have we ever had some hot ones!  In fact, the weekend I first tried this our temps were in the 102 range.  If you’d like to try this beer, it’s distributed widely across the nation with the exception of the northeast and a few states in the deep south. You’ll find it in 22 ounce bomber bottles, price ranging from $10 to $15 a bottle.