Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm starting to think of Winter Projects!

Winter just zips by when I have interesting projects.  I have been thinking of fabrics........dreaming of finding some real special fabrics.  Well, we'll see.  Still working on bricks and will be for probably another week. 

Life still gets in the way which delays things.  I have to take Aunt Edna in for her annual ckup on Thursday.....that takes most of the day.  We are starting at 9:15 at her place, her appointment is for 10:15 but you know how that goes.  Then we will probably have to go up to the lab to get blood work.  Hopefully, that will be it.  She continues to be in good health physically.  She is loosing most of her ability to read now.  Not that she knew what she was reading, but she would read out loud everything she would see.  It is another step down but she still can laugh.
This photo was taken at her 90th birthday party, she has just celebrated her 99th birthday last month.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Garden Colors! Yellows and Oranges

The oranges and yellows have done it!  They are now the main color in the garden.


 And then lookie what Dear Hubby just planted!  Just to match the playhouse!

And a little update on our little girl bees:

Our new bees are doing just fine.  George put the bottle of sugar water there for them just so they would be sure to have something while they scouted out the neighborhood.  They haven't been drinking it so they must be finding all the flowers just fine.  And the new and old hives are very good neighbors to each other.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Latest project - Front Patio

It all started with a broken sprinkler pipe.  The pipe was broken under the brick patio.  It turns out there was a big root that had pushed on the pipe until it broke.  The patio was laid about 40 years ago and it has needed some repairs, so now is the time.

First we uncovered all the pipes from the water source and replaced several of them and added a couple more for any future irrigation needs while cutting out all the roots under there.  We capped all the pipes off for now.

Then sand was put in and the bricks put back.

There are other places where the the divider boards had rotted away so we  replaced them and added sand to fill the gaps between bricks.


 The original bender boards needed to be replaced too.

 Along the front step to the patio, the bricks have separated and are no longer level so that is the next step in our project. 

 When we put in this patio it was quite a big project.  There are curves all over which required cutting bricks at angles.  We were glad to be finished with it and have enjoyed all our work on it for all these years.

Then when we are done with the patio we are going to hit the nursery and redo the plantings!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Artichokes!

 My Dear Hubby planted the artichokes for the flowers.  I did give my daughter-in-law some of the young ones for cooking but haven't tried them myself.

I am going to cut and dry these.

Isn't this one so pretty, wonder if it would dry like that.

I might cook this one up and see how good they are.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My Succulent Garden

These are the succulents I planted in May.  I have been trying to figure out how often to water them.  I didn't want to water them too much but I think I wasn't watering them enough.  Since I have recently increased the water they are growing more quickly. 

 The whole idea is to have an area that takes a lot less water and smothers out the weeds.

I love the shapes and colors of the succulents!

Friday, July 26, 2013

White is the Color of my Garden

 The garden is showing off its whites!

Starting with the Birch tree, white is showing up!

White now, but yellows and oranges are on the upswing!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Update on our little girl bees!

Our little girls have been working soooo hard making their super yummy honey.  So much so, that George has gotten a call from Whole Foods wanting to stock his honey in their new store in Fremont, CA as their "local honey".  George has the honey available already in several places, Perry's fruit stand at Ardenwood, Mr. Mikey's grocery store in Niles and a couple other fruit stands.  Since this has been just a hobby, it will really be pushing to keep the supplies up.  It is rather an honor to be asked to supply the new Whole Foods store though.  So he is going to get a "cottage industry" license and try it.  Whole Foods gave him the bar codes already.

I am just going to have to plant a lot more flowers for the girls, maybe they will work at least regular hours.  I don't know if I have mentioned this before but my gals are really pampered.  They stay in bed until the sun actually hits the hive, about 10 am, then they have their morning coffee before going to work.  They then work until about 4:30 pm when they decide to call it a day.  They have been asking for a hot tub, which now I may have to give them as an incentive for longer work days.

By the way, Jen, our youngest daughter mentioned a yummy recipe she found.  Some honey, juice of lemon (or lime) with a bit of zest heated for a bit and spread over pineapple slices on the grill!  Sounds so good I am getting a pineapple next time I hit the market!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What is Wrong with Chinese Honey?

Continued from Food Safety

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

What’s Wrong With Chinese Honey?
Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where – in 2001 – the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.
To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.  Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.

The FDA — either because of lack of interest or resources — devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.
Mostly, the adulteration went undetected. Sometimes FDA caught it.
In one instance 10 years ago, contaminated Chinese honey was shipped to Canada and then on to a warehouse in Houston where it was sold to jelly maker J.M. Smuckers and the national baker Sara Lee.

By the time the FDA said it realized the Chinese honey was tainted, Smuckers had sold 12,040 cases of individually packed honey to Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Sara Lee said it may have been used in a half-million loaves of bread that were on store shelves.
Eventually, some honey packers became worried about what they were pumping into the plastic bears and jars they were selling. They began using in-house or private labs to test for honey diluted with inexpensive high fructose corn syrup or 13 other illegal sweeteners or for the presence of illegal antibiotics. But even the most sophisticated of these tests would not pinpoint the geographic source of the honey. [since the pollen was ultra-filtered out]
Food scientists and honey specialists say pollen is the only foolproof fingerprint to a honey’s source.
Federal investigators working on criminal indictments and a very few conscientious packers were willing to pay stiff fees to have the pollen in their honey analyzed for country of origin. That complex, multi-step analysis is done by fewer than five commercial laboratories in the world.
But, Customs and Justice Department investigators told Food Safety News that whenever U.S. food safety or criminal experts verify a method to identify potentially illegal honey – such as analyzing the pollen – the laundering operators find a way to thwart it, such as ultra-filtration.
The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months. Almost 60 percent came from Asian countries – traditional laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds from India alone.

And websites still openly offer brokers who will illegally transship honey and scores of other tariff-protected goods from China to the U.S.

From me - By this time you probably think you know too much about honey if you have read this far!  But as a public service I thought you should at least be aware of this information.  The article goes on about the FDA but I thought you all may be getting a bit bored so I will let those that want to real more go to the article: 
By the way, Raw Honey from local hives are filtered but not ultra-filtered, no heavy metals or antibiotics contaminate the honey.  Much thanks to 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How the Honey Packers Explain it

continuing from the Food Safety News article:

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

Some U.S. honey packers didn’t want to talk about how they process their merchandise.
  One who did was Bob Olney, of Honey Tree Inc., in Michigan, who sells its Winnie the Pooh honey in Walmart stores.  Bryant’s analysis of the contents of the container made in Winnie’s image found that the pollen had been removed.  Olney says that his honey came from suppliers in Montana, North Dakota and Alberta. “It was filtered in processing because North American shoppers want their honey crystal clear,” he said.
The packers of Silverbow Honey added: “The grocery stores want processed honey as it lasts longer on the shelves.”  However, most beekeepers say traditional filtering used by most will catch bee parts, wax, debris from the hives and other visible contaminants but will leave the pollen in place.

Ernie Groeb, the president and CEO of Groeb Farms Inc., which calls itself “the world’s largest packer of honey,” says he makes no specific requirement to the pollen content of the 85 million pounds of honey his company buys.  Groeb sells retail under the Miller’s brand and says he buys 100 percent pure honey, but does not “specify nor do we require that the pollen be left in or be removed.”
He says that there are many different filtering methods used by beekeepers and honey packers.
“We buy basically what’s considered raw honey. We trust good suppliers. That’s what we rely on,” said Groeb, whose headquarters is in Onsted, Mich.
Removal of all pollen from honey “makes no sense” and is completely contrary to marketing the highest quality product possible, Mark Jensen, president of the American Honey Producers Association, told Food Safety News.
food-safety-news-good-honey-sample.jpgI don’t know of any U.S. producer that would want to do that. Elimination of all pollen can only be achieved by ultra-filtering and this filtration process does nothing but cost money and diminish the quality of the honey,” Jensen said.
“In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” he added.

Richard Adee, whose 80,000 hives in multiple states produce 7 million pounds of honey each year, told Food Safety News that “honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process.”
“There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there’s nothing good about it,” he says.
“It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China,” Adee added.

The Sioux Honey Association, who says it’s America’s largest supplier, declined repeated requests for comments on ultra-filtration, what Sue Bee does with its foreign honey and whether it’s ultra-filtered when they buy it. The co-op markets retail under Sue Bee, Clover Maid, Aunt Sue, Natural Pure and many store brands.

Eric Wenger, director of quality services for Golden Heritage Foods, the nation’s third largest packer, said his company takes every precaution not to buy laundered Chinese honey.
“We are well aware of the tricks being used by some brokers to sell honey that originated in China and laundering it in a second country by filtering out the pollen and other adulterants,” said Wenger, whose firm markets 55 million pounds of honey annually under its Busy Bee brand, store brands, club stores and food service.
“The brokers know that if there’s an absence of all pollen in the raw honey we won’t buy it, we won’t touch it, because without pollen we have no way to verify its origin.”
He said his company uses “extreme care” including pollen analysis when purchasing foreign honey, especially from countries like India, Vietnam and others that have or have had “business arrangements” with Chinese honey producers.
Golden Heritage, Wenger said, then carefully removes all pollen from the raw honey when it’s processed to extend shelf life, but says, “as we see it, that is not ultra-filtration.
“There is a significant difference between filtration, which is a standard industry practice intended to create a shelf-stable honey, and ultra-filtration, which is a deceptive, illegal, unethical practice.”
Some of the foreign and state standards that are being instituted can be read to mean different things, Wenger said “but the confusion can be eliminated and we can all be held to the same appropriate standards for quality if FDA finally establishes the standards we’ve all wanted for so long.”
Groeb says he has urged FDA to take action as he also “totally supports a standard of Identity for honey. It will help everyone have common ground as to what pure honey truly is!”
The underlines are mine.  Why would companies spent extra money to ultra-filter honey?  I will post about that tomorrow.  Will you be surprised??

Watch this!

By the way, for those that may not know, heating honey does away with the medicinal attributes of honey also.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Honey Study and What Was Found

From the Food Safety Article:

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.
Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:
     •76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like 
          TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop &
           Shop and King Soopers.

     •100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy
          had no pollen.

     •77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target
          and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

     •100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker,
          McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.

     •Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops
          and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn’t ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.

The National Honey Board, a federal research and promotion organization under USDA oversight, says the bulk of foreign honey (at least 60 percent or more) is sold to the food industry for use in baked goods, beverages, sauces and processed foods.  Food Safety News did not examine these products for this story.

Our little girl bees live in the hives in the background of this photo.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


before continuing with yesterday's topic of so-called honey without pollen..... I thought you might be interested in what was going on in my backyard today, first. 

George, the Bee Man, (aka: George, our dear son-in-law) is starting a new hive in the empty box we were going to put our last swarm in before they took off.  It's the box next to our hive (the tower of 3 boxes). 
He put one of these boxes (below)with screen on both sides in the hive box.  There is a queen, sugar water and about 14,000 little girl honey bees.
He then sliced the screen so the bees and get out and closed the hive box with a board across the door.  This will let the bees have time to get used to their new home and queen.  Tonight we will open the door a bit so they can explore somewhat.  Hopefully they will like their new home and then one of these days George may move them to a new area. 

So now onto the article from Food Safety and why ultra-filtering isn't a good thing:

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins 

What is ultra-filtering?

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.



Saturday, July 20, 2013

Talk About Pocessed Honey!!

Did you know.... that some companies buy up honey and process it till it is considered no longer honey.

In an article in "Food Safety News:

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”
The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the  World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.  (to be continued)

Tomorrow I will continue with this article informing us on "ultra-filtering".

But I will tell you, George's honey, which includes honey from our backyard, is filtered by NOT ultra-filtered.  Many people in the San Francisco Bay Area buy our honey for the medicinal benefit they believe the local honey gives them to help with allergies.

I was shocked to read this article.