Coming Up Roses in El Cerrito

rose

Roses are busting out all over in El Cerrito gardens! Our Blue Girl, Graham Thomas, Butterscotch, Sally Holmes, Ispahan, Electron, Heirloom, Double Delight … and many more … are blooming like gangbusters, so I’m extra excited this year about the 37th annual Celebration of Old Roses, sponsored by the Heritage Rose Group Bay Area! Sunday May 21st, 11 am to 3:30 pm at El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane. The Rose Show and parking are free.Vintage roseThe glorious heart of the event is the hundred-foot display of roses — everyone from expert cultivators to people with a few roses blooming in their yard bring cut roses to show. They’re grouped and arranged by type, the result an intoxicating display of scents and colors. George rosesYou can buy heirloom and hard-to-find roses from specialty nurseries, and rose experts will be there to answer your questions.  While supplies last, children can get a free rose plant courtesy of the Heritage Rose Group Bay Area. Along with the roses, there’s an array of arts & crafts and rose-related goodies for you to view and buy as gifts for someone special or for yourself!

Show table

We’ve had a booth with our artwork & crafts at the Rose Show for the past twelve years! Look for us in the Main Hall, with the work that I make from my original rose & flower and nature-related photographs -jewelry, purses, boxes, vases, sachets, greeting cards, and much more! I’ll also have my upcycled creations – handmade bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders, all from fabric books and silk neckties.

Upcycled bracelet cuffPlus, while it lasts – a new batch of our sublime local honey. Many people swear by it to help their seasonal allergies.Local honeyAnd! Honey Kissed lip balm, handcrafted by George from our honey and wax.Honey kissed lotion and lip balm

If you have any questions about the Rose Show, our honey, or Garden Delights Arts & Crafts, please email me at HeidiRand@gmail.com  Hope to see you there, with a rose or three!

Advertisements

Celebrate Roses in El Cerrito

The don’t-miss event for flower-lovers, gardeners and rosarians is coming up next Sunday – that’s right, it’s the 36th annual Celebration of Old Roses, sponsored by the Heritage Rose Group Bay Area! This year it’s on Sunday May 15th, from 11 am to 3:30 pm at the El Cerrito Community Center, a few blocks east of San Pablo Ave at 7007 Moeser Lane. The Rose Show and parking are free.Vintage roseThe glorious heart of the event is the hundred-foot display of roses — everyone from expert cultivators to people with just one rose bush in their yard bring cut roses to show. They’re grouped and arranged by type, the result an intoxicating display of scents and colors. George roses You can buy heirloom and hard-to-find roses from specialty nurseries, and rose experts will be there to answer your questions. Remember to bring your clippers and loppers for on-site tool sharpening. This year there will activities for children, and while supplies last, children can get a free rose plant courtesy of the Heritage Rose Group Bay Area. Along with the roses, there’s an array of arts & crafts and rose-related goodies for you to view and buy as gifts for someone special or for yourself!

Show table

We’ve had a booth with our artwork & crafts at the Rose Show for the past eleven years! Look for us in the Main Hall, with the work that I make from my original rose & flower and nature-related photographs -jewelry, purses, boxes, vases, sachets, greeting cards, and much more! I’ll also have my upcycled creations – handmade bracelet cuffs, purses, phone and e-reader holders, all from fabric books and silk neckties.

Upcycled bracelet cuffPlus, while it lasts – a new batch of our sublime local honey. Many people swear by it to help with allergies.Local honeyAnd for the first time at the Rose Show, try our Honey Kissed skin lotion and lip balm, handcrafted by George from our honey and wax.Honey kissed lotion and lip balm

If you have any questions about the Rose Show, our honey, or Garden Delights Arts & Crafts, please email me at HeidiRand@gmail.com  Hope to see you there, with a rose or three!

Sweet Reward

The wonders of beekeeping and helping struggling honeybees are our main motivations for having beehives, but getting honey from our girls is an extra special bonus. We don’t take honey every year. If the bees need it themselves for food we leave it; but some seasons the stars align and there’s extra. One reason bees can swarm (some of the bees in a hive make a new queen and leave with her for a new home) is because they don’t have enough work to do. In that case, taking honey and leaving them empty comb gives them a reason to stay with the original hive. George is all suited-up and ready to extract. He selects some of the frames that are full of honey and carries them away from the hive.

Beekeeper George

This frame is full of honey – it doesn’t ooze out because once it’s full the bees cap the honey with wax.

Frame

Scraping the wax off is the first step. You can use a fork, but this nifty uncapping tool is much more efficient and effective.

Extracting honey

As with everything else related to beekeeping, there are many different ways people extract honey. When we first started we only had a top bar hive, which you can’t use an extractor to get the honey from. George recorded a video showing his ingenious “Salad spinner honey extractor” method. We now have an extractor to use with the frames from our traditional hive, which makes the process much easier. Since it spins the honey out of the comb without crushing the wax, you can put the frames right back into the hive and save the bees the work of reconstruction.

Honey extractor

After much vigorous spinning, the sweet reward.

Extracting honeyWell, actually the baklava made by George is the REAL reward!

Bakin' baklava

And of course any honey that doesn’t get made into baklava gets bottled. This is the label I designed for our “La Ferme Melliferalle” honey.

Honey bottle with label

You can find La Ferme honey – and lots of other delicious local honey – at BioFuel Oasis on 1441 Ashby Ave., Berkeley California. If you’re local you can pick up from us in El Cerrito, email George at elegans@aol.com with your order.

Happy National Honey Month

Imagine my delight to learn that September is National Honey Month! 

Honeycomb

You know we’re very fond of the golden elixir around our house, and we’re so proud that our honeybees have been happy and healthy enough to produce lots of it.

Honey and beeswax candle

Here are some honey highlights. First, worker bees (all female) visit flowers and plants to gather nectar.

Honeybee on flowerThey bring the nectar back to the beehive, transform it into honey, and pack it into the wax honeycomb that they built.

Honeycomb with bees

We leave most of the honey for the bees’ own use, but in good years there’s extra, and we take a bit. Recently we got a hand-crank extractor, which makes getting the honey out of the comb much easier than our old “crush” method.

Extracting honey

It also leaves the honeycomb intact, so we put it back into the hives for the bees to use again. In the photo George and our friend Joan are “scoring” the capped honey so it will spin out of the comb easily when we put it into the extractor.

Did you know that many people eat local honey to control allergies? The theory is that trace amounts of pollen from local plants to which people are allergic remain in the honey, and that eating it year-round can help the body cope with the allergens. Sweet medicine, for sure!

The Great Bee Count of 2011

Honeybee on lavender flower

Honeybee on lavender flower

The day has arrived – so go out to your yards and gardens and begin …. counting bees!  The Great Sunflower Project  was launched in 2008 to get information about urban, suburban and rural bee populations.  The Project also wanted to educate people about what was happening with the bees in their back yards, and to remind us of how important bees are — their motto is: “Bees: Responsible for Every Third Bite of Food.”   So they got people all over the world to observe their bees on Lemon Queen sunflowers, because sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and a great resource for bees. They expanded the list of plants, including bee balm, cosmos, rosemary, tickseed, goldenrod and purple coneflower.  But even if you don’t have any of those plants in your garden (yet — lots of time to prepare for next year!) you can still count.  The bees that come to our garden love the lavender, and I had a blast earlier this week taking photos of them.

Bumble bee on soap plant flower

Bumble bee on soap plant flower

The bumble bees also love the soap plant flowers (Chlorogalum pomeridianum), tiny, spiky flowers that bloom only in the evening. The flowers are only about an inch around, so watching the relatively large bumble bees (compared to honeybees) grab onto the delicate flowers, making them bounce and wave, is very entertaining.


The steps to participate in the Project are listed on their site, with links.  All you have to do:  sign up and plant your sunflower (or other plant); describe your garden; watch the plant for 15 minutes and enter the data online. With colony collapse disorder, pesticides, and other threats to the hardest-working pollinators, every little bit helps —

Even if you don’t have any of the listed plants yet, why not go outside and do the count anyway? It would be a good baseline to compare with the number you get next year, when you’ve filled your garden with plants to help the bees.  And let me know what you find!