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Witte Homestead Honey

Witte Homestead Honey Welcome to the Witte Homestead Honey page, a local raw honey producer out of DeWitt County, IL.

Operating as usual

Come see us today at the Clinton Area Farmer's and Artisan's Market in Mr. Lincoln's Square, until noon. These bears are...
08/14/2021

Come see us today at the Clinton Area Farmer's and Artisan's Market in Mr. Lincoln's Square, until noon. These bears are crazy drivers!

07/29/2021

🐝🐝🐝 Honeybee Swarm 🐝🐝🐝

Do you get a little anxious with the sound of a bee buzzing by your head? How about the sound of 30,000 bees? If you've never heard what 30,000+ bees sounds like, turn up the volume and check out this video.

We were fortunate enough to capture some footage of an overcrowded hive right as they started to swarm. It is truly an amazing sight to see a swarm take flight. Thankfully, the bees settled on a low branch of a nearby tree and we were able to catch them before they found a new home.

We had some excitement at the homestead tonight, witnessing an overcrowded hive decide that it was time to swarm (right ...
07/27/2021

We had some excitement at the homestead tonight, witnessing an overcrowded hive decide that it was time to swarm (right in front of me). Seeing a swarm take flight is an amazing sight. We caught some really cool footage, but with country internet, I'm going to need my data plan to restart before uploading a video...hopefully later this week.

In the meantime, below are some pics of the different stages; when they first left the hive in a cloud of black, when they settled on a nearby branch, and when we were finally able to re-hive them in their new home.

Stay tuned for video later this week!

07/26/2021

We started the harvest today and have a beautiful, light honey this year. The heavy rains and flooding have caused problems with other crops, but they have kept the white clover blooming, giving the bees something to work late into July when things usually start drying up.

Here I'm taking off the wax cap so the honey flows out of the comb when spun in the centrifuge.

Frames are getting fully capped...it won't be much longer for the first harvest of the season!
06/10/2021

Frames are getting fully capped...it won't be much longer for the first harvest of the season!

The hardest part of beekeeping?  Resisting the urge to add 5 more hives each year.  Especially difficult when there's gr...
05/29/2021

The hardest part of beekeeping? Resisting the urge to add 5 more hives each year. Especially difficult when there's great quality equipment at a local dealer, HillCo, LLC - Beekeeping Equipment Supplier .

05/01/2021
April 30, 2021 Swarm

🐝🐝🐝 Swarm season is here! 🐝🐝🐝

A fellow beekeeping neighbor called this afternoon and said he had a hive swarm, but didn't have experience catching swarms. As long as you have some spare equipment, it's often as simple as giving the swarm of bees a good "shake", and then sitting back and watching one of nature's fascinating shows. Luckily, he had some spare equipment (and now he has an extra colony).

From start to finish, it took about 15 minutes for the bees to settle in to their new home.

The beautiful weather gave us an opportunity to split our strongest hives (make more colonies), and to move the smaller ...
04/06/2021

The beautiful weather gave us an opportunity to split our strongest hives (make more colonies), and to move the smaller nucleus colonies into standard equipment for room to grow.

Winter was merciful, allowing us to double our hive count compared to this time last year. Hopefully that translates into more local honey! 🍯🍯

Sunny, warmer weather allowed me to check on hive reserves today, and we're looking good heading into the home stretch! ...
02/23/2021

Sunny, warmer weather allowed me to check on hive reserves today, and we're looking good heading into the home stretch! I use candy boards (blocks of sugar) as a winter insurance policy, and many colonies are just now starting to consume the sugar. New candy boards were added where needed. In all, 14 of the 17 hives (82%) checked today are still going strong, with dandelions just around the corner.

February and March can be dangerous months for hives running low on honey.  Most of our hives are still buzzing, but tod...
02/19/2021

February and March can be dangerous months for hives running low on honey. Most of our hives are still buzzing, but today I confirmed our first loss of the winter.

You can see this was a strong hive that was even raising new brood in the middle of the warm cluster, but unfortunately starved during the latest cold snap. We're looking forward to warmer temps that provide opportunities for checking on remaining winter stores and emergency feeding, if necessary.

I found the queen in that mass of bees and show her next to a worker for size comparison.

Winter weather has finally arrived in central illinois. Although its cold and icey outside, the bees cluster up and cons...
01/02/2021

Winter weather has finally arrived in central illinois.
Although its cold and icey outside, the bees cluster up and consume honey to generate heat inside the hive, keeping the core of the cluster warm and cozy.

Winter preps continue.  The smaller 5 frame nucleus hives (5 over 5) will be using the buddy system to cozy up next to o...
11/27/2020

Winter preps continue. The smaller 5 frame nucleus hives (5 over 5) will be using the buddy system to cozy up next to other hives for warmth. If we can get these through winter, they'll be ready to expand and be productive honey producing hives in 2021.

11/22/2020

Time for one last oxalic acid (OA) v***r mite treatment to help the bees get through winter. The OA knocks back varroa mite populations but doesn't harm the bees, resulting in healthier and stronger bees heading into the cold months ahead. You can see the v***r leaking out the back of the hive.

10/09/2020

Why scrub down your sticky honey harvesting equipment when you have hundreds of eager volunteers? It took about 5 minutes for them to find this jackpot and recruit helpers.

In the fall, you can easily pick out beekeepers in the grocery store...they are the ones with 200 pounds of sugar to mak...
09/20/2020

In the fall, you can easily pick out beekeepers in the grocery store...they are the ones with 200 pounds of sugar to make enough syrup to feed the hives for another week. A strong hive will suck down more than a quart per day in prep for winter.

08/29/2020
On the Prowl

Queen bee scopes out the honeycomb looking for empty cells to lay her eggs. When she spots one, she stretches that long abdomen down to the bottom of the cell, deposits an egg, and then begins the search for another open cell. In her prime, she can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day!

(Sorry for the glare...she's in an observation hive).

08/15/2020

Harvest day!

The wait is over!  Trimble's Produce Farm in Heyworth is re-stocked with Witte Homestead Honey quarts, one pound jars an...
07/28/2020

The wait is over! Trimble's Produce Farm in Heyworth is re-stocked with Witte Homestead Honey quarts, one pound jars and 8 oz. bears of delicious local, raw honey. Thanks for your patience!

Don't forget to check out Trimble's Produce Farm's page to see what other goodies are available in the store.

2 Queens!I started a nucleus colony a few weeks ago, and while inspecting to see if they successfully developed a new qu...
07/24/2020

2 Queens!

I started a nucleus colony a few weeks ago, and while inspecting to see if they successfully developed a new queen, I snapped this picture. While reviewing the picture later that evening, I noticed 2 queens! I rushed out to the hive to see if I could split them up and possibly start another colony, but I was too late...only one queen could be found. Looking back, I wonder if the queen at the bottom of the picture was as oblivious as I was to the 2nd queen creeping up behind her.

We're eagerly watching the restoration progress of a beautiful historic building on the Clinton Square, and enjoying hea...
07/13/2020

We're eagerly watching the restoration progress of a beautiful historic building on the Clinton Square, and enjoying health and wellness tips along the way. This recipe with local honey sounds super 👌

Susan and I thought we would get a jumpstart on sharing some natural ways to stay healthy and happy. Why wait, right? So have you heard of Elderberry Syrup? It's an amazing NATURAL syrup that boosts your immune system like crazy! And it's so easy to make! 5 ingredients, a teaspoon a day, and you have superpowers! Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but you get what I mean! You can buy it and gummies, but it's so much more cost-effective, and of course healthier, to do it yourself. I buy dried elderberries from Amazon. But let me tell you how to do this;
3 1/2 cups water
2/3 cup dried elderberries
2 TBS ginger (fresh is great, paste is good, or dried is fine!
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
Put it all in a pot and bring to a boil. Put a lid on it and reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Pour mixture through a strainer into a 4 cup vessel. Smash the seeds getting all the juice out. Discard seeds.
Add 3/4 - 1 cup local honey and stir until dissolved.
Pour into glass bottle and refrigerate.
Take 1 teaspoon a day for maintenance. If you do start to feel a little under the weather, you can take a couple of teaspoons three times a day until you feel better.
I'm only sharing this cuz I absolutely know it works. I was sick for almost the entire month of December, working in the school district with a gazillion germs, well you get it. My daughter-in-law told me about Elderberry syrup and I started it then and haven't been sick since! Susan Klein has the Crock-Pot version to this and she'll be sharing that soon. Here's to good health for everyone!

Witte Homestead Mead?!  Thank you Tim Szerlong for the mead samples and awesome looking labels!  It's going to be a long...
07/12/2020

Witte Homestead Mead?!

Thank you Tim Szerlong for the mead samples and awesome looking labels! It's going to be a long 4+ months waiting for them to age, but that gives us more time to admire your work! Thanks again!

It's a girl!!  I snapped a few shots right as this little beauty emerged and took her first steps.  She had a few moment...
07/11/2020

It's a girl!!

I snapped a few shots right as this little beauty emerged and took her first steps. She had a few moments to get her bearings before being assigned her first job...cleaning the cells so they can be re-used.

06/27/2020
Virgin Queen or Mated Queen?

Can you tell the difference between a recently hatched, virgin queen and a mated queen? Check out the difference in these two queens. The abdomen is the easy way to tell the difference, but both video clips offer other clues.

Hint - check out the cells and what is in (or not in) them. You can also see the much larger queen cells that virgin queens would have emerged from recently.

The much needed rain should keep the dutch white clover blooming for a while longer!  The bees are working the clover ha...
06/21/2020

The much needed rain should keep the dutch white clover blooming for a while longer! The bees are working the clover hard today, along with collecting golden pollen from asparagus. Yes, that's asparagus.

The hives working at Mariah's Mums & More are growing nicely and starting to put away excess honey from all the deliciou...
06/14/2020

The hives working at Mariah's Mums & More are growing nicely and starting to put away excess honey from all the delicious options available at the farm. Be sure to follow their page for updates on opening day for you-pick strawberries!

We're excited to have the girls working a pick-your-own strawberry farm in DeWitt County!  Follow Mariah's Mums & More f...
06/07/2020

We're excited to have the girls working a pick-your-own strawberry farm in DeWitt County! Follow Mariah's Mums & More for opening day in a few short weeks.

05/26/2020
Bees fanning hive entrance

When it's warm and humid, and there's no A/C or windows to open, it's time to get out on the front porch and start fanning. Turn up your volume to hear what it sounds like when bees are fanning to cool off their hive.

05/09/2020
** New Queen Introduction Update **

Last week, we introduced a new caged queen to a hive that we started with frames from an existing hive. In this video, we inspect the hive for the first time in a week to see if she has been released from the cage and accepted by the colony as their new queen.

(Note, she does make an appearance)

05/01/2020
Introducing a Queen to a Hive Split

There are several ways to expand your number of bee hives, or to recover from winter losses. One easy and cost effective method is to split an existing hive into two or more hives, and then add a new queen to the hive(s) that would otherwise be queenless.

This video shows how to introduce a new queen to a queenless hive. Be sure to check back in about a week when we check on her status.

04/28/2020
Test your beekeeping skills. How quickly can you spot her?

Test your beekeeping skills. How quickly can you spot the queen? No cheating (or pausing) the first time through! She makes several appearances before the camera focuses on her. Leave a comment with how much time elapsed in the video when you first spotted her.

Later, I'll post screenshots of several of her early appearances (one is pretty obvious to the trained eye).

04/12/2020
Dandelions - Weeds or Wildflowers? Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Watch the video closely and you can see her long tongue (or proboscis) stretching for that golden dandelion nectar. We love dandelions at our farm because they provide an early spring source of both pollen and nectar for the bees.

Did you know...honey bees gather nectar from two million flowers to make one pound of honey. The average honey bee will make only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime.

Working the sunset maples
04/11/2020

Working the sunset maples

04/05/2020
Bees at the watering hole

Honeybees need water like every other living creature, and so it's always good to have a nearby water source to help keep them hydrated. In addition, it provides them the means to cool down the hive in the heat of summer, and it keeps them out of your neighbors swimming pool. (Sorry Melinda)

Water lilies in a goldfish pond provide a great place for the girls to perch as they fill up. Even though the pond is small, there's enough room for hundreds of bees working 'water duty', likely using the moisture to help hydrate the granulated sugar I added to the hives in late winter.

03/28/2020

Don't assume that tickle in your throat is COVID-19. Seasonal allergies? Look at all the full pollen baskets (yellowish bulbs on hind legs) the girls are hauling in. Shot March 28th...spring is in the air!

2019 proved to be one of our better honey harvests despite a rough winter.  With fewer hive losses this winter, we're pr...
03/14/2020

2019 proved to be one of our better honey harvests despite a rough winter. With fewer hive losses this winter, we're preparing for an even bigger 2020. That includes assembling additional frames and supers in anticipation of the warmer weather setting in soon.

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Dewitt County, IL

Opening Hours

8am - 12pm

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(217) 935-2108

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