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It’s Honeybee Swarming Season!

 

 

Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Honey Bees in my Plum Tree

Why do #honeybees swarm? Because they are honeybees. Honeybees swarm for a number of different reasons, but the overwhelming most reliable reason why honeybees swarm is due to genetics. Genetics make honeybees swarm and it is also one of the primary ways that honeybees expand the population and genetic diversity of colonies in a geographic area. Honeybees can also swarm due to inhospitable living conditions such as, too crowded and not enough space, poor beekeeping skills (i.e. the beekeeper is new or not paying close enough attention), and pest infestation. Even though a swarm of honeybees looks very threatening, it is my experience that while honeybees are swarming, they pose little of no risk to people. Prior to an actual swarm, a pheromone based signal is given off, likely from the Queen, to prepare for swarming which causes many actions to start happening. Some of which are: scout bees go out and find a new suitable home and report back and the nurse bees build a queen-rearing honey-comb cell for a new future queen. Once the queen-rearing honeycomb cell is built, the existing senior queen deposits a fertilized egg inside. About twenty-eight days later a new and future queen bee emerges, soon thereafter, she takes a mating flight and the male bees all chase her, where I have read, a queen bee will mate with as many male bees as she can, sometimes over fifty!

Once the new and future queen returns from her mating flight, the existing senior queen has decided to leave, relinquishing the hive to the new and future queen. The senior queen already has made a crucial decision of where the next home will be and then she takes roughly 50% of the worker honeybees with her and by the tens of thousands, they take flight. Presto! You have a swarm of #honey #bees.

Over the next couple of weeks to two months, I will be out capturing honeybee swarms, where and when possible, I will post pictures of the little darlings wherever they land a give you all an update of honeybee hijinks.

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Yummy Tummy Farms 2013 in Review

Let me the 101st person to wish you, dear reader, a happy new year. I often wonder about why I’m blogging, why people would read my blog, what makes a post interesting? Based on how-to articles and my past experience, I thought I had a clue. Apparently, I have no clue about what readers find interesting except that I’m convinced pictures really help. As you will see below, the most interesting posts, based on reader views, were some of my simplest posts and the formula is more or less this: take a cool picture, write one to two sentences, and maybe conclude with a question. Part of me is thrilled with that simple formula because it means a lot less hours thinking about and working on content, but part of me is a bit disheartened because it means that anything I have written, of what I thought was substance turns out to be forgettable or unremarkable, based on views on this blog. The evidence is below in that my most popular post was a simple picture of an eggplant. What do you think? What would cause you visit this blog more? What types of content causes you to visit other blogs daily or weekly?

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Food Warrior

Sun Lu-t'ang

Sun Lu-t’ang

I, Farmer Donald, am blessed to have the experiences associated with farming the land around my suburban home. I had motivation from many sources, but key sources of inspirations were family lineage, supporting the honey bees, feeding myself and my family healthy food right from the garden. In my personal quest to understand more about where my food comes from, how it was raised, how it interacts with my body, both in the short term and the long term, I have found maintaining clarity is very difficult. Food is personal.

My health is all that I have for without health; everything else in life becomes more and more challenging. I feel that it is imperative to arm myself with the latest information, protect myself and my family from industrial food companies, and defend my community from lies and deceit. It is difficult not to feel embattled from the many foodborne illness headlines, GMO produce, GMO meat, packaging contamination such as BPA in plastics, vitamins and supplements that work one day and the next week they are linked to a malady, and on and on it goes. Speaking as a farmer, I feel a certain energy and zeal when speaking about food, nutrition, and health; therefore, I am going to evolve this blog into discussions around health, diet, food, nutrition, recipes, and how-to guidelines. There are a lot of people doing similar things; however, I hope that I will inspire you, dear readers, to follow this blog, recommend this blog, like my posts, leave a supportive comment, and even visit the farm some day. In becoming a Food Warrior, I hope to enlighten and bring a bit perspective to the wide and diverse subjects around food; moreover, I hope to interact and learn from other bloggers and learn from the fine community of readers too. Lastly, while being a Food Warrior will be an evolving term, it is my goal to fight for enlightenment, peace, and a long healthful life for me, my family, and my community.

Heirloom Tomatoes are Ready!

What’s Ripe at Yummy Tummy Farms for 8/24 and 8/25? Great question and here is a comprehensive list to wet your appetite:

Heirloom Tomatoes: Gardener’s Delight cherry, Black Cherry, Heirloom Beefsteak, Japanese Black Trifele medium-large,  Ghost Cherry, White Tomesol beefsteak, Punta Banda small, Riesenstraube cherry, Indigo Rose- black small tomato absolutely stunning in its beauty, Yellow cherry,  SF Fog small medium, Mr. Stripey large, Great White beefsteak, Striped German beefsteak, Green Doctors super sweet cherry, Green Tomatillos- bring on the salsa, Sungold cherry.

24 oz Striped German- Size, beauty, and delicious flavor!

24 oz Striped German- Size, beauty, and delicious flavor!

Pepper: Numex Anaheim- chile rellenos anybody? Red and green and chocolate bells

Numex Anaheim Pepper- Chile Rellenos anybody?

Numex Anaheim Pepper- Chile Rellenos anybody?

Eggplant: Heirloom Aswad Eggplant from Iraq- big and super meaty!

Aswad Heirloom Eggplant- indigeneous to Iraq. Super meaty & flavorful!

Aswad Heirloom Eggplant- indigenous to Iraq. Super meaty & flavorful!

Basil: Plenty of Italian Genovese- bring on the pesto! Lots of Royal Siam Thai Basil, Pho anyone?

Cucumbers: Marketmore- slicing and fresh eating and Pickling

Marketmore Cucumbers

Marketmore Cucumbers

Kale: Lacinto Dinosaur kale

Squash: Burgess Buttercup

Melon: French exotic Ananas Vert and delightful sweet melon scent

Indigo Rose- Black "Super" Tomato

Indigo Rose- Black “Super” Tomato

Organic Honey

Organic Honey

 

All of our produce is biodynamically grown in alignment with organic growing standards. Yummy Tummy Farms will be open from 12 noon to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday 8/24 & 8/25. We hope to see you here.

Beekeeper Rant: Texas You Are Busted!

As a true Northern California beekeeper (San Jose, CA) nothing irritates me more than deception. For example; honey from China that has been diluted and honey from other counties or states labeled as local honey. The label of NORCAL Honey Co honey tells some fluff story about partnering with California beekeepers blah, blah, blah. Newsflash: Hey Texas, California is quite capable of producing our own truly local honey. I’m throwing the B.S. flag:

image

image

To be fair, I visited the website of NORCAL Honey Company or Nature Nates, based out of Texas and my critique is still valid. Clearly, Sonoma county, the closest  “local” county to the SF Bay Area where Texas based Nature Nate claims to source their honey from does not meet my definition of local. Otherwise, the map on their website highlights honey sources from unnamed Central Valley counties of California and nebulous unnamed northeast counties of California.

Honey may assist in the alleviation of allergy symptoms. If you live in the SF Bay Area and you suffer from allergy symptoms then you should consider adding local honey to your diet because it contains local pollens gathered by local bees which may help alleviate your allergy symptoms.

I propose 50 miles as a definition for local as the farthest farm products can be sourced from where you live and still maintain the local claim with any amount of credibility.

How effective do you think “local” honey will be for you if you live in San Francisco or San Jose , CA if it is sourced from greater than 50 miles from where you live? If you regularly eat honey that claims to be local, give the label a little bit of scrutiny.

While there is no official definition for local, what is local to you?

Ripeness Report for 7/20 and 7/21

Summer time has been super busy for us at Yummy Tummy Farms with bountiful harvests of lettuce, arugula, shallots, and garlic; moreover, new crops are ripening and ready to be harvested.

Yummy Tummy Farms is located at 5611 Doorn Lane in San Jose, CA and is open from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm; earlier or later by special prearranged appointment. If you have a need to come by earlier or later, please email yummytummyfarms@gmail.com

We still have lots of beautiful butter leaf lettuce and peppery arugula to cool you down in the summer heat with a refreshing salad. The honeybees have been healthy and have made plenty of extra honey to share, so come and get it!

So good, you will want more!

Delicious Local Honey

Produce Prognosticator:

Organic Heirloom Tomatoes– full crop (over 30 varieties) within two weeks and some limited availability this weekend 7/20-7/21

Ghost Cherry

Ghost Cherry

Basil– within two weeks (Genovese, Lime, Royal Thai)

Tomatillos– within two weeks (Green and Purple)

Peppers – within two weeks (multiple varieties sweet to spicy)

Purple Beauty-Bell Pepper

Purple Beauty-Bell Pepper

Crop Focus: Cucumbers

Our latest crops to ripen are sassy pickling and delicious Marketmore cucumbers. Marketmore cucumbers are the perfect snack for hot weather with a simple sprinkle of pink salt or you can dress them up a bit by adding a squeeze of lemon and a drop of hot sauce as well.

Marketmore Cucumbers

Marketmore Cucumbers

Our pickling cucumbers are also ripe and ready to harvest. We are planning on making several batches of pickles this season: dill, semi-dill, bread-n-butter, sweet, hot-n-spicy, and all variations in between. We will be preserving our pickles via the pressure canning method so as to have some shelf-stable jars for winter. We will also do several small batches of refrigerator pickles that we will consume regularly with lunches and dinners over the summer and throughout the fall.

Pickling Cucumbers

Pickling Cucumbers

So I ask you my dear readers:

1. What is your favorite type of pickle or types of pickles?

2. What are your favorite recipes for preparing pickles?

3. How do you serve your fresh homemade pickles or what do your serve fresh homemade pickles with?

Free Publicity and Free Art Farms

Yummy Tummy Farms has three primary core values and those are to spread suburban farming, increase self sustainability, and to reclaim domesticity. I (Farmer Donald) do a lot of public outreach spreading the messages, learning, and benefits of suburban farming; moreover, as part of those efforts, I also founded San Jose Urban Farming on Meetup.com http://www.meetup.com/urbanfarming/ San Jose Urban Farming Meetup events will reoccur about every two weeks and focuses on all things farming, gardening, and sustainability; moreover, if you live in the Santa Clara Valley, please attend a San Jose Urban Farming Meetup soon. We are always looking for fun interesting hosts, so if you have an interesting idea for hosting a future San Jose Urban Farming Meetup, please email Farmer Donald at yummytummyfarms@gmail.com

As part of my outreach, I teach classes on farming, gardening, and self sustainability all over the SF Bay Area and as an outgrowth of a class I taught, I had the good fortune of meeting Tracy, proprietor of Free Art Farms in Santa Clara, CA. Tracy attended my Starting Heirloom Tomato Seeds class in early 2013 then joined San Jose Urban Farming. Tracy is super ambitious, full of energy, and an impressive urban farmer that did more than just talk the talk, she really took action and started her farm with conviction and purpose. Tracy took it upon herself to proactively reach out to the San Jose Mercury News and invited the newspaper to do a feature on her farm, Free Art Farms. The San Jose Mercury News did a full page story on her farm that was very flattering and inspiring. We at Yummy Tummy Farms, thank Tracy for the kind mentions in the San Jose Mercury News.

Here is a link to the San Jose Mercury News article and some pictures from the San Jose Urban Farming Meetup which occurred yesterday 7/13/13:

http://www.mercurynews.com/home-garden/ci_23628112/professional-couple-discovers-joys-suburban-farming

Here are some pictures from the San Jose Urban Farming Meetup

Tracy Free Art Farm 2013

Tracy Free Art Farm 2013

Yellow Peach Free Art Farm 2013
Yellow Peach Free Art Farm 2013

Vining Strawberry Border Free Art Farm 2013

Vining Strawberry Border Free Art Farm 2013

Tomato Privacy Wall Free Art Farm 2013

Tomato Privacy Wall Free Art Farm 2013

Squash Wildflower Blend Free Art Farm 2013

Squash Wildflower Blend Free Art Farm 2013

Squash Wildflower Blend Free Art Farm 2013 #2

Squash Wildflower Blend Free Art Farm 2013 #2

Free Art Farm Corn Privacy Wall 2013

Free Art Farm Corn Privacy Wall 2013

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