This kitchen is the central location at Yerba Buena and it’s ALWAYS busy. There are a million different typical activities that happen there. Here’s a look at just a few.
After a couple of weeks of settling in, it’s nice to get out and explore the area a little. Last week we hosted some Canadian tourists named Marla and Oliver, so Emanuel, who’s 15, begrudingly lead us on a walk through the bush to the peninsula. Kwao mentors two students, Cory and Chrissy, from the Robins Bay School every Saturday. Luckily they joined us and Chrissy pointed out the local flora she knew including the Jamaican grape tree and Noni, a medicinal fruit that taste like blue cheese.
When your bees are doing well and they use all the space available in the hive, worker bee’s will build a special cell on the comb called a queen cup. The queen will lay an egg here for a second queen to develop. If you don’t catch them early, the new queen hatches and half of the colony “swarms” to a new location. This is ultimately bad news for beekeepers in the sense that they loose perfectly good bees from a perfectly healthy hive. Kwao explained that loosing a swarm is like losing at least $100 US dollars (i.e. the amount it cost to buy a colony of bees.) If you are lucky enough to find their new location, you might be able to catch them and start a new hive. The challenge is to ensure that the queen actually makes in into your possession, and to teach the bee’s where you’ve moved their new home. Here is a look at our attempt to save a swarm.
Agape and I have been experimenting with different techniques that make collecting bee’s wax simple, elegant, and affordable. We collect old honeycomb, break it up, and pack it tightly in a mesh bag to be boiled. While bag boils it’s important to agitate it as much as possible to maximize the amount of wax collected. When we feel like most of the wax is sitting on top of the water, we set it aside to dry. The challenge here is figuring out a way to keep the bag of comb below the surface of the water while all the wax hardens nicely at the top. Agape puts on workshops for other women to learn about extracting bee’s wax so the solution can’t be too complicated and has to be accessible to anyone. So far we’ve tried putting a heavy rock in the bag and experimenting with how tightly the bag is tied around the comb. We’ve even held the bag down with a top bar and a shoe or backpack. Here is a look at what we’re up against.
Yesterday a friend brought us LOTS of cocoa butter, so Agape showed me how to make vegan, sugar free chocolate from scratch. She explained to me that most processed chocolate uses milk and no cocoa butter at all, but she always does the opposite. Before today, she dried and ground ground cocoa beans, then clumped them into equal size balls to freeze. So, in a pot we combined three frozen cocoa balls, lots of honey, and a nice chunk of cocoa butter over the fire. As the honey began to bubble and froth, we decided to grate some fresh nutmeg and ginger into the mix, and Agape convinced me to add a handful of raisons, although I was reluctant at first. Once I broke up the frozen chocolate balls with my spoon and all of the ingredients were melted and mixed evenly. Agape poured the contents of the pot over the hydrophobic underside of a banana tree leaf to cool. Eventually she divided the chocolate into bite sized pieces and stored them in the freezer to keep them hard.