• The Second Brew: Ginger and Goji Berry!

    So, I am really, really loving the whole kombucha-brewing-at-home thing. I can't describe it, but it is really putting joy into my days. Waking up, seeing the bottles of booch on my counter. Checking on my brew and scoby a few times throughout the day, just because I can. Smelling the complex aromas rising from my gallon brewing jar...it makes me happy. 

    Isn't it amazing how something so seemingly simple, is really so complex? I do want to learn more about the science and microbiology of kombucha...the inner scientist and food nerd in me is calling...but for right now, I want to enjoy the simplicy of it. Go by the tastes, the colors, the smells, the sounds. Be present, and enjoy the process. Becuase isn't that the whole point?

    So here is what I did for my second batch of home brewed kombucha! LIke last time, I am going to recall with some level of certainty parameters for the brew, and also share what I did at bottling time (i.e. for the second fermentation). I'll also share some notes about the taste, fizzy factor, and other qualitative observations as I see fit/can remember.

    My Second 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: March 29, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea Company, Golden Yunnan and Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong, using 1.5 TB of each for a total of 3 TB tea, brewed for 6-7 minutes

    Sugar: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, purchased in bulk from the Regent Street Coop

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 7 days

    Temperature Notes: I made sure our heat was ON for the entire brewing process this time, and I really did notice a difference in aroma and flavor. I would guess that the average temperature was around 78F for this batch. When I taste tested at day 7, the brew was so flavorful, more acidic tasting (but still sweet), and more carbonated than my first batch. The tea combination I used really shined through as well. 

    Second Fermentation: as with my first brew, I bottled into the same liter flip-top bottles, using a funnel, with all the tools I used cleaned in warm vinegar water. I got about 2 and 1/2 liters total, filling the bottles almost up to the top of the bottles, leaving very little headspace. Like the last batch, I reserved 2 cups of the top-most kombucha with the scoby for the next batch (this is called the "starter tea"). As an fun experiment, I combined the 1/2 liter of this second brew with about 1/3 of a liter of my previous mango-infused kombucha. I tasted some after a day of being in the bottle, and it was very tasty, but a bit sweet. After letting it sit for 4 days, it was more yeasty (cream layer at the bottom of the bottle was prominent, and the kombucha was slightly cloudy), and much more carbonated! The taste grew less sweet, and more complex as well during this time. 

    pH at Bottling: 3.0

    Bottling Recipes: for this batch, I chose to use larger pieces of ginger and whole goji berries, allowing for them to be easily removed when drinking the kombucha, as opposed to straining to get smaller pieces of grated ginger and pureed fruit out. I also did not use any lemon juice, or additional sugar at bottling this time. Random Fact: read about how too much sugar can actually inhibit yeast, and reduce carbonation in kombucha. 

    Goji-Ginger Infusion // 1 liter // 

    • 2 tsp chopped organic ginger root, chopping to the size similar to goji berries
    • 2 tsp dried organic goji berries

    Ginger Infusion // 1 liter //

    • 2 TB 1/3" to 1/2" chopped organic ginger root

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let the bottles sit for 3 days total until I taste them again, and started to enjoy them. For my first and second batches, I allowed the liters to sit at room temperature on my counter (out of direct sun light and drastic temperture changes) over the entire duraion of drinking them, and this was about 1 week total. I really enjoyed tasting them throughout the process to experience how the flavors changed. Since I was drinking the kombucha every day (about 8 to 12 oz per day), the bottles were burped (released of excess carbonation) in this process each day. I would say that burping your bottles once a day is a good idea to prevent explosions, as is not storing the bottles in a really warm location!

    As for that, I am still learning what the ideal conditions are in the second fermentation, but not stressing too much about it. As I said before, I have let the bottles during the second fermentation sit in the same spot for both batches, so in doing this, I think it is safe to say that the bottles have been exposed to similar temperatures. The fizz-factor in this second batch was about the same with my first batch, but the flavors of the infusions were notably weaker owing to the fact that I used large chunks and not fruit puree/grated ginger. The goji-ginger infusion was *slightly* more carbonated than the liter with only ginger pieces, I am guessing due to the presence of addtional sugars in the dried goji berries. The goji berries imparted a very light tart-berry flavor, very subtle, and the berries themselves were kombucha-flavored berry bombs!! Very fun to eat (could also be put into a smoothie, if you wish). 

    In the qualitative comparison of my first two batches (i.e. I added 1/2 tsp sugar to my liters in my first batch), I do NOT think adding additional sugar to the liters for the second fermentation significantly influenced my carbonation levels, so for now, I am going to omit addition of sugar during bottling. 

    As for the chunks of ginger and berries, they WERE easier to pick out when pouring a glass of kombucha to drink, and the flavor was very mild. And, the bottling process was very simple: no grating, no puree-ing, no additional mess. However, for a stronger infusion flavor, I would recommend grating the fresh ginger and using fruit puree. For my next batch, I plan on juicing fresh ginger, and whatever fruit I decide to use. I'll decide that when I get to that point, and share my results here! 

    Love the color of the goji berries!Fun and fizzy stuff!!

  • The First Brew

    Happy Monday! What a crazy weekend-the weather is so unruly and moody. But really, I can relate. Last week was pretty up and down.But, staying focused, positive and productive has been a priority, since I know that I am happiest when I am creating, active and well-rested. A find balance, it is true. And, isn't life always a balancing game? I think so. Sometimes, the thought of find a job, my new path, career, home...it feels very overwhelming. Maybe it started to consume me last week. But, baby steps, people. One foot in front of the other, since change is sometimes (ahem, usually!) hard. Right?Anyways, I wanted to share with you my first kombucha brew, and what I did in the process. I'll be sharing how long I fermented the 'booch, what I infused with during bottling, and how long I let the bottles go through second fermentation. I will also try to recall as many details as possible about what I did, for your sake and mine! I hope to use this as a journal of sorts, and expect what parameters/information I share to change over time as I learn. So, here we go!

    My First 'Booch Brew // Brew Date: March 15, 2016 // 

    Tea: Rishi Tea Company, the particular variety of tea was that supplied by the kombucha kit I purchased, pretty sure it was a blend of oolong and ceylon teas

    Sugar: Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, the type of sugar that was supplied by the kombucha kit I purchased

    Water: PUR filtered water from our faucet

    Days Brewed: 8 days

    Temperature Notes: our heat was out for a few days, and my apartment was a bit cooler than usual. It seemed that the temperature hovered around the mid 70's, which is a bit cooler than what I have read the SCOBY likes, and needs, to make a balanced brew. This may be why I had to let my fermentation go 8 days to get down to the desired pH that the kit I used recommends the brew gets to before bottling, and if I hadn't had to leave for a weekend trip, I would have let it go a few days longer.

    Second Fermetation: after 8 days, I proceeded on to the bottling, and second fermentation from there, which simpy takes place inside the bottles. This is the stage in which carbonation builds, so if you want to trap the carbon dioxide, be sure to use a tight-sealing bottle! I used 1 liter clear glass flip-top bottles, and got 2 and 1/2 liters*. I used a plastic funnel to transfer the kombucha, and honestly, I probably would have made a giant mess without it! Since I wasn't sure if leaving a lot of headspace in the 1/2 full liter was a wise decision (mixed reviews about this is what I read online due to increased headspace resulting in more oxidation of your brew, and less carbonation, but next time, I am just going to carry on with using all liter flip top bottles and forgo the mason jar route), I simply put it into mason jars and made sure to tighten the lids with all my might (*insert flexed bicep muscle emoji here*). I put my scoby into a quart mason jar with 2 cups of the kombucha, taken from the top of the gallon fermentation jar before pouring the kombucha into the liter bottles. I have read that if you take kombucha from the bottom portion of the gallon fermentation jar for your scoby hotel, you will get more yeast which will eventually throw off the yeast/bacteria ratio in your next brew. I read that the reason for this is that when the yeast are "spent" or done doing their carbonating/fermenting processes, they fall to the bottom of the vessel (see a picture of the bottom of my liter bottles below). This is why you see a creamy beige layer on the bottom of a jar or bottle of kombucha that has sat without being disturbed or shaken. Also, important: I cleaned all of my bottling tools and equpiment with warm vinegar water, and kept a big bowl of warm vinegar water in my sink throught the process. I found that this was really convenient! And I don't need to tell you to thoroughly wash your dang hands before handling your kombucha or scoby, right? Right. Good. 

    *see some helpful notes and conversions at the end of the bottling recipes below.

    Bottling Recipes: as I noted above, I had approximately 3 liters of kombucha. I chose to leave 1 liter (well, about 1/2 of 1 liter in my case) plain, make 1 liter organic fresh ginger* infused and 1 liter organic mango* infused. The recipes below are for 1 liter bottles. To each of the liters, I chose to add 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar to see if this would up the carbontation level*. The recipes are a compilation of several resources I research online, and I think it is important to note that regardless of recipe, your kombucha may turn out differently than mine, even with following the same recipes! The temperature, culture/SCOBY, amount of sugars present, types of sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose), ratio of bacteria/yeast, your energy/vibes while making the kombucha and bottling it...so many variables can and will likely influence how your booch turns out! And, as scatter brained as I sometimes am, I really think keeping track of what you do is important...hence this little rambling page! :) 

    pH at Bottling: 3.5 

    *ok, ok...so using whole fruit or roots, or pureed/grated probably makes a difference in how carbonated your kombucha becomes during you second fermentation. I chose to grate my fresh ginger on a microplane, skins and all. For the mango, I simply pureed the flesh of 1 organic mango in my Vitamix. I washed my ginger root and mango in the warm vinegar water, just to keep everything nice and clean.

    Ginger Infusion // 1 liter //

    • 2 tsp grated fresh organic ginger
    • 1 TB lemon juice, from an organic lemon
    • 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar

    Mango Infusion // 1 liter //

    • 2 TB organic mango puree
    • 1 TB lemon juice, from an organic lemon
    • 1/2 tsp organic cane sugar

    Simply add the ingredients to the bottles before adding kombucha. Tightly seal or close the flip-top lids, and allow the kombucha to sit in a warm, dark place. How long to allow the second fermentation to go is up to you! I let mine sit for 4 days in my bathtub with my shower curtain closed (since I was away for the weekend, and didn't want any exploded bottles!), and "burped" them when I got home. I allowed them to sit for another 3 days at room temperature on my counter, away from direct sun, before tasting, and found the carbontation to be at a good level-very gentle bubbles, but nothing like traditional sparkling water or GT's kombucha. After this, I strained out the fruit/ginger bits using a muslin tea bag (totally optional!), re-bottled, and allowed the bottles to sit for 1 more day. After this, I started to enjoy the brew, but also allowed the liters to sit on my counter, away from direct sunlight, allowing the kombucha to continue fermenting and carbonating. For this entire process, I kept the bottles in a spot that wasn't too cold, but also wasn't too warm (right by my sink!). 

    Overall, I was really happy with how my first batch turned out! I loved the ginger flavor, and how it was slightly spicy. Next time, I am going to add a tsp or two more of ginger, since I love it (and have read that certain rhizomes, like ginger, help increase carbonation). The mango batch is also very good, but am letting it sit for a few more days since it is still a touch sweet. My second batch is brewing as I type this (on day 5 of the first fermentaion). I think having a cold apartment did influence my outcome in terms of carbontation and overall pH in my first batch. For my second batch that is currently brewing, I am taking care to keep the temperature in the 75-80F range, and hope that this helps bring out more acidic production for a less sweet brew. However, I want to note that while I was hesitant about bottling my first batch after only 8 days of the first fermentation, I was really happy with the results. In fact, I have read that some brewers like to bottle at a higher sugar (higher pH, less acidic, more sugar) or sweetness level to have more residual sugars available for fermentation into carbon dioxide. 

    In addition, I wasn't so crazy about the straining step I chose to do mid-way through the second fermetation (totally not necessary). It was a bit messy, cumbersome and I think it also took some carbonation out of the kombucha. I may try larger pieces of fruit/ginger next time, and simply remove them as I drink the kombucha. I may also try using pure fruit juice as well. Or, I may also try in a future batch to infuse the entire gallon jar with whatever I wish, but remove the SCOBY and 2 cups starter liquid before doing so. However, the downside of this is that I cannot start another batch of kombucha right away (I don't own another large gallon jar/container), which I think is the process I am going to stick with, since I enjoy drinking the 'booch every day! So really, it comes down to what works for you, and your brew. I think it will take some time for me to experiment and figure out what works, but that is half the fun, right?

    Helpful Conversions: these helped me in the bottling process

    1 gallon = 128 fl. oz. 

    1 gallon minus 2 cups (1 pint, 16 fl. oz.) kombucha for SCOBY hotel/starter for next brew = 112 fl. oz.

    112 fl. oz. = 3.3 liters = 3 liters + 10.5 fl. oz. 

    1 liter = 33.8 fl. oz. = 4 cups + 1.8 fl. oz. = 32 fl. oz. + 1.8 fl. oz. 

    Reference Material: some guidlines I read about, but by no means hard rules, that I chose to follow

    1/2 oz. citrus juice per 16 fl. oz. kombucha = 1 oz. citurs juice per liter 

    1 oz = 2 TB

    1/2 tsp sugar for 16 fl. oz. = 1 tsp sugar per liter (I only added 1/2 tsp per liter)

    Success! There is something about the flip-top bottles that I really love. They look so...official? Like I actually brewed something legit. And, they are safe, having thick glass and rounded edges, so the risk of exploding bottles during the second fermentation is lowered (that shouldn't scare you! Just please don't use thin-glass bottles...ok?).The sunlight and weather were all over the board when I took these photos (and I am still learning how to do food photography, yo!). I loved the shadows and how dynamic the pictures turned out.And the fizz, can we talk about the gently bubbling kombucha that you get to pour for yourself?? And the "pop" of the flip-top when you open your 'booch?? I don't think this will ever get old.I noticed that over time, a fine sediment from the ginger and mango (and likely spent yeast) collected at the bottom. This, I have read, is totally normal, as is the darkening of the kombucha while it ferments. And of course, depending on what you choose to infuse it with (if you choose to, that is), will alter the color. I think I am hooked. I hope I have inspired you, if not, rambled your ear off about my first experience brewing kombucha at home! Cheers!

  • This and That: April 2016 Update + Kombucha Brewing At Home (PLUS: The Kombucha Shop Kit Review!)

    It has been a while since I have visited this page, so it is time for some spring cleaning and updating! I had intentions of updating sooner, but typing "I still really, really want to keep bees but I don't have the resources at hand right now" seemed a little...boring? Right? 

    But that is what it boils down to. I am still very much interested in keeping bees, but have decided to hold off on taking the plunge until I have better resources (i.e. a better location that isn't an apartment with no green space!). But until then, I hope to use this space to share my current project and kitchen experiment: brewing my own kombucha!

    I was really inspired with a tour I took with a friend. We had an informal tour of the NessAlla brewing facilities, tasted lots of 'booch (my favorite: Juniper Rose), and enjoyed the company of others that think this ancient tea-based elixir is amazing. Really, though, it is and ANYONE can do it! Kombucha is full of probiotics, beneficial yeasts and acids, and happens to taste great as well. Oh, and it is SUPER easy to make! The basic ingredients are water, black tea, sugar, time/patience, as well as a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). And once you make the initial investment, you can literally make kombucha for pennies....kind on your wallet AND the earth!

    To get started, I did a cost anaylsis of a) purchasing the components indiviudally or b) getting this kit + buying several liter flip-top bottles at the Wine and Hop Shop on Monroe Street. Turns out, going with option b was the best bet. (ps: the Wine and Hop Shop carry this kit, as do both Williamson Street Cooperatives in Madison, which is where I purchased mine).So, let's dive right in: THE KIT! Overall, I was really happy with it, and would 100% recommend it to anyone who wants to take the plunge into home brewed kombucha. However, below are some of my thoughts, and aspects that I think are notable (but are no means an extensive overview of the brewing process, or factors that are beneficial or harmful to home brewing kombucha!). 

    What I Liked:

    I loved the easy instructions, the straight-forward language and the extensive information on the website. Brewing my first batch was a low-stress, enjoyable produciton. It was refreshing to have a kitchen experiment of sorts that was so straight forward, a polar opposite of conducting food research (HEH!). The hardest part for me was to enter in the promo code to get a fresh and alive SCOBY delivered to my door. For me, this only took 2 days, so I was brewing in no time. I also really love the temperature reading strip that you stick to the brewing jar (it is accurate-I kept a thermometer beside the jar for several days to verify), and the fact that the tea is from the renowned Rishi tea company in Milwaukee. Along those lines, the website states that the kit uses locally-sourced, USA made materials, which I think is also pretty darn rad! And perhaps the best part: the SCOBY provided with the kit is made with love and good juju from the NessAlla team here in Madison! How awesome is that? 

    What I Didn't Dig:

    Double-edged sword here: I also didn't love the simplicity of the instructions. Now, I know, it cannot be overly complicated or else it will completely scare people off from brewing. But there were two important factors that I had to research on my own before getting started that I felt needed to be addressed a bit more: 

    • Cleanliness and Sanitaiton: now, call me a quality nerd (I did work in quality for 3 years, ya know), but starting with clean hands and equipment is important, regardless of what type of food product you are going to be making. For kombucha, avoid using anti-bacterial soap. This makes sense, though: you're dealing with a culture of bacteria and yeast-those little critters that antibiotics are meant to destroy. Start with clean hands whenever your are working with your SCOBY or your booch. Clean your brewing tools using warm water and vinegar. I prepared a big bowl of warm vinegar water, and kept it in my sink throughout the primary brewing, and during any other time I was working with my 'booch (i.e. bottling and preparing for the second fermentation). And on that note, I think it is important to realize that like antibacterial soaps, pesticides, insecticides and herbicides applied to fruits and/or herbs you may use for your second fermentation should be addressed. Either use locally produced, organic items or clean your ingredients in a solution vinegar water. 
    • Water Quality: here in Madison, we have really hard water due to the plethora of limestone. We get lots of calcium deposits or "scale". I didn't think using regular tap water would be good for brewing the 'booch. Like many other food products, mineral deposits can lead to off-flavors, inhibition of bacteria and/or yeasts, yucky films forming on the surface of liquids, and in certain cases, can actually harbor bad/pathogentic bacteria in the (very rare) event a build-up occurs. So, start with filtered water (I use a faucet-mounted PUR filter), or purchase spring water from your grocery. In addition to minerals, it is important to use filtered water to remove chlorine-another chemical used to kill (oxidize) organic matter and bacteria. 

    Now, call me nit-picky, but I really also did not dig the plastic straw that was included in the kit. I guess for me, the whole point of brewing my own kombucha is to save some money, and to reduce waste by continually purchasing glass bottles. So why not procure a glass straw for the kit, such as Glass Dharma straws? I used my own glass straw to test my brew after 7 days, and it worked like a charm. But, perhaps most annoyingly, the straw is 100% not necessary. You can simply dip in a clean spoon to taste your brew. So really, the plastic straw needs to go!

    As previously mentioned, siphoning off a sample to taste test after 7 days of brew time is performed in conjuction with using pH strips, or litmus papers. Which brings me to aspect #2 that I didn't like: the pH strips. They are fussy, moisture-sensitive, and extremely time dependent. You must read your strip immediately after dipping it in your sample, and the color will continue to change-so have your color reference chart at the ready (this is not indicated in the instructions). It is sometimes really difficult to discern what color is on your strip... for example, there are several shades of green and they all start to look similar if you look at them long enough (HEH!)!! Now, I know this isn't critical, as you would likely know if your brew was outside the target pH values by a blatant color discrepancy, but for a science nerd, this test is a touch irksome. And really, who is going to be crazy and purchase a pH meter just to home brew? My whole point here is to mindful of the litmus/pH paper test, and know the factors that may inhibit the accuracy of it. Knowledge=power, yo!

    Lastly, the instructions indicate to throw away the tea after brewing your sweet tea for the SCOBY. ONE TIME? The tea blend is of a traditional nature, a mix of ceylon and oolong, both of which benefit from more than one brew. I recommend brewing the tea for the kombucha, and then saving the tea after the first steeping for another cup or two for yourself! 

    So, I guess that is it for now! I will be back soon to share the parameters for my first brew, as well as the "recipes" I followed for my second fermentation/bottling. Cheers!

  • Late Summer update

    Hello Friends!

    It has been a while. My school, research and life have been keeping me busy. I am sure the busy bees can relate, especially as the end of the summer season approaches.

    What can I say? I am an overly ambitious person, often taking bites larger than I can chew. Did anyone ever tell you that getting a masters degree is a lot of work, and that having freetime to fill with new hobbies will be few and far-between? Yes. Well, that is the reality of it!

    But a girl can still dream-we all can! I do anticipate doing more reading this coming fall and winter season, so better prepare myself for the season in which I can afford time to have a hive or two. And really, I think I need to have a gameplan in order for a few aspects of beekeeping. 

    So as always, I guess we will see what time brings! My goals for right now are to get through the fall season, graduate, and see how I feel then. I know that is open-ended, but it feels right. 

    If any of you have suggestions for books or resources for beekeeping, I would love to hear about them! Give me a shout, or simply leave me comment.

    Thanks again for reading, and take care!

  • Chat with Professor + Spring Plans

    Well, it has been a while! Let us chalk that up to the winter...February is over-finally-and so is the winter blues! Things have been busy at school, with research and coordinating two confectionery courses for my funding. And reality sunk in about a month ago: I'll have to write my thesis and defend all by December this year!! 

    So that spells trouble...in bee paradise. I'll be knee-deep in caramel and...and...other hairy, sticky analyses that I have to perform on said caramel. Time will be limited, and my sanity will likely be gone by June.

    I made the executive desicion to wait to get my bees until next season. I think it is the best thing for the bees and me. Don't you think, too? We both work hard enough...no need to stress through neglect!

    My plan is to shadow a ton of knowledgeable folks in Madison this summer. I have already got several offers to shadow and help out with some hives right by our state capitol down town, thanks to the great network of beekeepers in Madison (how cool is that?). In addition, I learned that right accross from where I research is a lab...and entemology lab on UW's campus! And, the head of the department has bees. And two hives on the building for instructional purposes!! I was so happy when I found out. I recently had a good conversation about sourcing bees, keeping bees for the first time, and other things with the head of the entemology department. I also convinced him to let me observe how to install a bee package into the hive this spring...major knowledge!

    I do really well with hands-on, so I am looking forward to this opportunity this season. Who knows, maybe I'll even get to wear one of those crazy bee suits, too?

    That is all for now...I'll be sure to update, with pictures hopefully, on how the installation goes! Three cheers for the pollinators in the world!!

  • "Vanishing of the Bees" + Readings on Pest Management

    Wow! Time is flying. I can't believe it is already (almost) mid-January! I'll have to keep my reading in check, since I don't want to fall behind for this season's opportunity to order and keep bees.

    As I mentioned in my last post, I am still reading "The Backyard Beekeeper". It is a great, visual read for how to carry out beekeeping in a backyard (go figure!). Not going to lie, I get a bit squeemish when it comes to pests and pest management...especially if it involves creepy-crawly things. So needless to say, when I got to the IPM or "integrated pest management" section and other maladies that can befall bees and hives, I had to stop reading for a bit. Such a wuss...but I know I have to learn about it, so I can be informed and prepared when (not really an "if", according to the book) any of these pests or parasites latch onto my bees, or invade my hive. 

    In other news, I watched a really interesting documentary on Netflix, called "Vanishing of the Bees". It really opened my eyes to the reasons why (at least I think) vegans and the vegan community are not pro-beekeeping. I am not going to lie-before this movie, I had this idealized vision of all hives and all beekeepers being small-scale, do-it-yourself, love-the-earth type affairs...but this is clearly not the case. I guess it was time for me to wake-up and smell the roses!

    One part of the movie shows how pallets (yes, pallets) of hives with the bees are trucked to numerous locations around the US to pollinate crops, like almonds. I was shocked. How can this be right? I mean, there is such a thing as over-working the bees...how would one of us feel if we were loaded on a semi, and trucked around the states in order to work our asses off? Not a far cry for some of the population; and I can say that I personally wouldn't be a happy human OR bee if I had to do that crap. 

    Anyways, the film also looked at the correlation between GMOs, Monsanto (round-up ready crops), pesticides/insecticides, and pollution, and how ALL of these paramethers could be contributing to colony collapse disorder. In addition, they also show several large-scale (but passionate!) beekeepers benchmarking with fellow beekeepers in France. Turns out the French also dealt with similar symptoms of what they thing causes CCD, and the beekeeping communities from Europe and the US both agree that GMOs, chemicals and monoculture (planting the same thing in massive stretches of land) are not helping the health of our bees. Comprehensive and informative, especially for a newbie like me.

    Lastly, they overviewed markey prices of honey, and how imported contaminated or "fake" honey have been damaging the US honey market (and the legit businesses of US beekeepers). I was shocked to hear the name of the company I used to work for in a scene, and would be seriously (more) disgusted in the company if they are indeed using fake honey imported from China. 

    I'd encourage a watch for anyone. If you stuff plants in your face, or guzzle almond milk, or enjoy eating in general, you would benefit from watchign this film. Vegan, vegetarian, ominvore, raw, whatever-the-hell-diet you follow, educate yourself on what is going on with pollinators. Our earth, our lives and our health depend on them! Make small changes:purchasing some eco-friendly cleaners or making your own from biodegradable substances, buying organic, purchasing local honey from a beekeeper, supporting local agriculture, etc...it is up to us!

    PS: I am still not a fan of Pollan, and would like to point out his (once again!) attack on scientists. Not all of us are evil, selfish, money-driven indivduals with jobs at large companies or with (sketchy) government agencies. Like people, all scientits are not created equal, and their motivations (like money, fame, publicity) will drive their actions, the research they conduct, and the interpretation of the data in order to make conclusions. Shame on you, Pollan, for putting us down...again! 

  • The Beginning

    Welcome! This page will document (to the best of my patience and ability!) my forrays with beginner beekeeping in urban Madison, Wisconsin. We all play a part in keeping our bees and pollinators safe, healthy and productive. Since I thrive on a plant-based diet, this is me doing "my part". I realize that keeping bees and honey are not considered vegan, but I firmly believe that it is the responsibility of anyone who thrives from fruits of our lands to safely and responsibly look after the pollinators of earth. 

    I am a complete newbie to the world of beekeeping, and am currently building my knowledge of the beekeeping world in Wisconsin. I am currently reading the following book to help build a foundation of begginner beekeeping knowledge:

    (image source: betterworldbooks)

    I am also learning more about beehives and their construction with this great book:

    (image source: amazon.com)

    There are many great resources that I am starting to tap. Capital Bee Supply has a comprehensive listing of many of these resources, including local organizations in Wiscsonsin and also a list of hands-on beekpeeing classes. I plan on taking a course at the end of this January! I have previously taken a begginner beekeeping course with Nathan Clarke of Mad Urban Bees, and highly recommend it. I also recommend trying some Mad Urban Bee honey if you've never had urban-foraged honey before. Mad Urban Bees also offers honey CSA's. It is amazing what bees can do, even in a thriving city! 

    I am interested in participating in a local beekeeping association, but feel that I need to get a handle on more beginner information before I do. Once I feel comfortable, I plan on attending the Dane County Beekeeping Association monthly meeting.

    I'll keep this page updated as much as I can. And please note, these are all opinions and results of my personal interest in beekeeping. If you have specific questions or comments regarding the links of any product or resource I provide, I encourage you to contact the specific company, product, producer or association.