On a Farm in Indiana

Beekeeping and Fried Chicken with Ginger Honey Sauce

September 21, 2011 • 23 Comments

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This is the sixth in a series of weekly farm reports from our own Tom Hirschfeld, complete with recipes, cooking and gardening tips, and wisdom dispensed.

Today: The conclusion to Tom's beekeeping initiation, plus Asian Fried Chicken with Ginger Honey Sauce.


A Different Sort of Education, Part II

- Tom

So now it is fall and the million drops of morning dew that glistened in the grass have finally dried up, and the sun has warmed the air enough that the bees are flying. Your bee veil hangs in the laundry room with your bee bag and the leather elbow-length lamb skin gloves and hive tools.

The bees are cantankerous this time of year. The sting of their vengeance is a little more potent since they lose so much to the cold, eventually even their freedom to fly. Their hive is at its maximum bee capacity and they have population to lose, so they take on a Hell’s Angels attitude.

honey super  beeswax

You light the smoker filled with crumbled corn cob, use the bellows to get it going, then put on the veil, all at a considerable distance from the hive. Really you have no worries. You are plenty protected and if you believe what most beekeepers do, a sting or two is just the cure for the arthritis you have been feeling in your hands. 

Smoke in a bee hive makes the bees panic. When they panic they try to eat as much honey as they can, but the honey calms their nerves thus calming the hive. Mama’s Little Helper in a round about way. So a couple of puffs of smoke under the hive cover and you hear a discordant buzz become a large harmonious hum. You close the lid and wait a minute or two before going to work.

Bees are flying everywhere now but few try to get at you. 

You remove the two honey supers that remain on the hive, then place some medicated wafers on the hive body and put the lid back on. You brush all the bees off and get them away from the honey supers and you're done for today. The medicated wafers are used to rid the bees of varroa mites, which have become one of the major problems for bees. You treat bees in the early spring and in the fall, either before or after the honey flow so the honey isn’t affected by the drugs, natural or otherwise.

honey extraction  honey extractor

Sometime in the next few weeks you will bring the supers filled with frames of honey into the kitchen. The bright sun shines through the windows, warming the honey so it can be extracted.

It is a family affair. The girls chew on honey gum, as they call it, while you use a knife to remove the wax cappings from the honeycomb. The frames then go into the extractor and the girls start spinning. With each spin of the centrifuge comes the essence of summer. Every flower that bloomed in the last six months is filling the kitchen with its scent, from chamomile in early spring to late blooming golden rod. The kitchen has come alive with the smells of summer for one last hurrah.

honey extracting

Tom's Tips for Honey Extraction

1. Only extract capped honey (sealed by the bees). Otherwise you risk fermentation because the water content might be too high, allowing yeast to flourish.

2. Before spending lots of money on extraction equipment, look around at bee catalogs and then look around the house. You may find you have lots of things that will do the job you need done. An example: a meat slicing knife with dimples, like a Santoku, is perfect as a capping knife.

3. Beekeepers are very generous people and many who own an extractor are ready and willing to let others come over and borrow it. Just be a good steward of another’s
equipment and space and leave it exactly or better than you found it. A drop of honey on the bottom of a shoe makes a big mess after you track it around.

asian garlic honey chicken

Asian Fried Chicken with Ginger Honey Sauce

Serves 4 when accompanied with sticky rice and sides

For the chicken:

1 chicken, about 3 1/2 pounds, cut into 9 pieces, the whole breast should be cut across the back bone not with it into three pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
4 cups water
peanut or canola oil

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon ginger, extremely finely minced
1 tablespoon garlic, extremely finely minced
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup green onion sliced into thin rounds

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


Bee Hive

Want more life on the farm? See Part I of Tom's initiation to beekeeping: Procuring Bees and Honey Cake.


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Comments (23)


over 3 years ago gluttonforlife

So inspiring, Tom! Thanks for the beautiful photos, recipes and (a)musings.


over 3 years ago cheese1227

Still scared of the prospect of bees, but the recipe is very attractive to me. Are all bee keepers using these medicated wafers? What's in them?


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

I used the term generically because the truth is there are many options for taking care of your bees. Some of the meds are all natural, lemongrass, eucalyptus and other things then there are those that contain various man made meds antibiotics etc. Which all this wouldn't be so bad except for the fact that if you want to use natural bees wax for your foundation(the honeycomb is attached to this) you usually purchase it. Since the wax comes from bee keepers of all types you have know idea what med residues are in the foundation. They make plastic foundation but that never really seems organic either. You see where I am going. Next spring I have some new notions in my head and I may give them a go.


over 3 years ago WinnieAb

Love this so much Tom. Hoping my bees make it through the winter so I can harvest some honey next year ;)


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

The photo I saw looked like they were going strong. Just make sure you feed them.


over 3 years ago ashleychasesdinner

Thirschfeld, Congrats on such a great article! Sweet pictures of your daughter I presume!


over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

The magnifying glass, that stuffy . . . precious.


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

thanks, yes one of my two daughters. Lynnie was taking a nap


over 3 years ago cookbookchick

That picture is perfection -- the little stuffed toy tucked in her arm -- the intensity of her curiosity. A moment to cherish -- kudos to you, Tom, for capturing it!


over 3 years ago Droplet

So that's how the smoke affects them. I didn't quite know. The magnifying glass photo is priceless.


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

Thanks, she is so curious and she went and got it on here own to look at a squished bee.


over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Dear Santa,

I would like some chickens and some bee hives for Christmas, please. I promise to be good from now on.


over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, and a field of corn from which to make crumbled cobs, and a bee veil, and a smoker pot. And lots and lots of patience. Thanks ever so much.


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

if I were Santa I would be more than happy to give you a few chickens and a bee hive.


over 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.



over 3 years ago Kitchen Butterfly

When I come to Indiana (is that Indiana, Pennyslvania?)...can you guess where I'm headed? Love the photos and the picturequeness of honey and bees on your family farm!


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

Kitchen Butterfly if you are in the neighborhood we would love to have you for a visit and it is the state of Indiana, we are a little closer to Chicago.


over 3 years ago elenakathryn

Tom - These pictures are fabulous! (... and the writing is good too :) )


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

thanks so much elenakatryn


over 3 years ago Bevi

Ahh - "honey gum" is the perfect way to describe that goodie. This recipe sounds wonderful and I am making it for my kids next week.


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

thanks so much Bevi


over 3 years ago nannydeb

You had me right there in your kitchen sunlight chewing on "honey gum". Great article!


over 3 years ago thirschfeld

thanks nannydeb