It's always interesting going to these meetings. The beekeepers themselves run the gamut. Some beekeepers are very organic, natural minded folks with a top bar hive or two and then you'll have the big commercial guys who have thousands of hives that pay their mortgage. You see old women, and teenage boys, Amish and homeschooling families, and city professionals. Most beekeepers tend to be the most honest, hard working and creative people I know. A lot of them have small family farms like us and then again, some live in the concrete jungle--just as interested in raising and eating good fresh food like we are.
The workshop classes can be very interesting, or aggravating at best. You'll hear a teacher in one class tell you to do one thing, and then the next teacher in the next class tell you to do the exact opposite. (You've heard the old saying: put 10 beekeepers in a room, ask them a question, and you'll get 12 different answers.) And the truly frustrating thing is that they are both right! You simply can not bee keep the same way in different environments. Some teachers are just good 'ol beekeepers, while others are entomologists at big universities. Some teachers haven't ever really beekeeped but do mostly research on honeybees, or perhaps only produce craft projects from the products of the hives or provide "bee-tique" items. Which ever they are, generally speaking, the teachers have excelled in their area in one way or another and can provide good information.
I enjoy the most the teachers who ask me to stretch a little--these are the passionate teachers who are more philosophical about beekeeping than perhaps practical. Practicality is important in beekeeping--you have to get the work done, and with as little money and time as possible. But when you approach beekeeping from only the practicality issue, you miss opportunities to be a better person, to make life better for yourself or maybe even others. Some take the philosophy too much to the extreme for me, as an example in one class I attended the general idea put forth was that natural, sustainable beekeeping can only be truly done in a top bar hive--which is certainly not true. But since I was sitting in a big class full of Michael Stivicks (All in The Family) and I was afraid of being hit over the head with a protest sign, I thought I'd keep quiet. But I'll get my chance when I teach my own natural, sustainable beekeeping class later this fall.
All in all, quite an enjoyable event and ran pretty smoothly as far as I can see. We enjoyed a big birthday cake on Friday, so I thought I'd put in my recipe for honey cake for you all to enjoy.
Honey Cake3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup warm coffee or strong tea
1/2 cup fresh orange juice, along with a few peel shavings
1/4 cup rye or whiskey
Preheat over to 350 and grease either a bundt-type pan or at least a 9 x 13 sheet pan.
Mix dry ingredients together first, making a well and putting in the wet ingredients. Mix well and spoon into pan. Bundt pan will take from 60 - 75 minutes, sheet cakes around 45 minutes.