Fall Bananas

Leave a comment

I just returned from a week long trip only to discover that my Burro(chunky banana) plant has opened up and has about 5 hands of bananas exposed with more to be  uncovered. The bees are diving in and enjoying the banana nectar. This planting also produced in mid November last year. I babied the bunches through the cold weather and was rewarded with some nice fat bananas in the spring.

I am overwhelmed this year as I have dozens of bananas frozen for banana bread, smoothies and maybe some more banana jam.


Bees looking for more banana blossom nectar.


I wonder if the bees from my nearby neighborhood hives are part of the crew supping upon the sweet nectar?



So Local You Can Feel it and Taste it!

1 Comment


Extremely local Papaya and hyper local Manzano bananas.

I had an incredibly fresh and local fruit snack for this afternoon. How local? I should  probably label it all hyperlocal but I will differentiate. The papaya is from a few blocks away at Mike and Annette’s yard, also hosts to my very productive 8 frame garden hive. There are two mature Papaya trees growing from their compost bins….the discarded seeds apparently liked the environment, therefore, the Papayas are very, very local. The Manzano  bananas are 29 steps from my back door, in my little plot, obviously, very hyperlocal.

Hyperlocal – “”The term hyperlocal has been used in journalistic circles since the late ’80s, but with the changing face of journalism and the development of online media, has now begun to filter into more mainstream use.” http://www.macmillandictionary.com/buzzword/entries/hyperlocal.html

I was going to give Tara Chapman of Two Hives Honey credit for the term “hyperlocal”.  She is an Austin, Texas, based beekeeper with a very interesting background. I took her marketing class at the Brenham Beekeepers school. She markets her honey as “hyperlocal” – named for the Austin neighborhood hosting her hives….I market mine by the zip code of the hive….a little larger than hyperlocal. Check out her website.


Lets get back to my snack. A little google search and I had my papaya prep instructions…a first for me. Sliced lengthwise, de-seeded and sliced into strips, carefully  removed the skin and then cut into chunks. The banana was cut in half lengthwise and then sliced. A sprinkling of lime juice and chill for a bit. Yum.


The starting point. Yes, the papaya is ripe as are the tasty Manzano bananas.

My  next step? Seed saving and growing my own Papayas…..about 29 steps from my back door…..so very  hyperlocal.







BeeWeaver Honey Tasting


I need to tell you folks out there of a new development at the Bee Weaver Apiary, Navasota TX. My “Goo” friend John** and I were visiting the apiary to pick up 4 queens for a fall requeening effort. BeeWeaver Apiary will soon be a honey tasting bar, beekeeping equipment store, selling bee themed jewelry and ties and more. They have also built a  unique observation hive into the wall – cool looking hexagon designed windowed frames. The walls are paneled with hive body parts, the floor has inlayed “scroll W” brand emblems. Very cool.

I have purchased, NUC’s and queens from Beeweaver and have been very pleased. They have a great reputation and people come from all over the state to buy bee stuff. My friend John and I arrived a bit earlier than the 10:00 pick-up time, firmly held time, and we both bumped into a few  other likeminded beekeepers. Ryan, a young firefighter from just outside of Austin area, was just getting off shift and had several battle wounds from his morning adventure with his bees. He was picking up some NUCs and heading home for a nap. John visited with a mature gentleman…..about my age, down from the Kilgore area.

The store and honey tasting bar is technically not open but, Laura Weaver gave us a quick tour of the store under construction, some Weaver beekeeping history and let us know that they are shooting for a soft opening on October 15th. Visitors need to be aware that there is a related operation, RWeaver Apiaries, on the same corner. If you choose to visit, and I hope you do, pay attention to the turns and routing. New signage will help travelers coming off the short jaunt from Highway 6, a few miles south of Navasota.  Take FM 2 to the east off of Highway 6. At the crest of the hill turn left (north) on County Rd 319. Not far up the road there will be a sharp right corner. You will see the RWeaver Apiaries shed just before the corner. Drive 200 feet around the corner until you see signs letting you know that you have arrived at BeeWeaver Apiaries. 



One pound Muth jars of honey. I just love the retro look of Muth jars.


The porch will display many essentials and tools for beekeeping.

All photos with my iPhone …… didn’t carry my good camera and  lens. Next time!!!


** Read and older blog –

“Goo Friend”https://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2016/04/

The “Requeening” Adventure will be a tale for another day.




Yummy Late Season Surprise


I went to check on of my 8 frame garden hives a few days ago and had a pleasant surprise. I had left a medium super on top the two brood boxes as this hive seemed to be a little slow this spring. Wow, I opened it up and it was wall to wall of beautiful capped honeycomb. The brood boxes were well filled out so I figured I should provide some room for the ladies! 
I pulled 4 frames of beautiful honeycomb. I replaced them with 4 four frames of drawn comb. It seems that this urban setting still has some nectar flow. I haven’t fed this hive at all this summer. I added a feeder just to help them out. I will cut 3.25X3.25 inch squares from 2 or 3 of the frames and squeeze the remainder. They look so nice. 

A garden update, bananas are still my proudest success but the Armenian cucumbers have grown beyond belief! They are essentially a melon, so even the large ones are edible. I am surprised that my relief gardener missed picking them at a more manageable size. 

Please, no rude comments! 

The Poblano and Serrano peppers are still thriving. I replanted some tomatoes for the fall and added some more pole beans. Would love to have some relief from the heat and humidity.  It was 78 F at 5:45 this morning and only 93% humidity! 


Managing the Bananas

1 Comment

I learn by mistakes, usually after the second or third one! A year and a half ago my banana plant produced a stalk of bananas and I had no clue why. 

I also learn via research. The internet said, if I take care of the plants they may produce by design rather than by accident. It is 10-15 month cycle for the plant to bear, they won’t produce well if crowded and they like to be fed.  I am using fish emulsion and regular doses of my compost. 

The results for this season, have been two full stalks of the Burro banana and three of the Manzano. The dead or damaged leaves are now used for a layer of mulch/weed barrier. In some parts of Mexico the leaves are used to wrap tamales rather than using corn husks. 

Just change the topic and slide into more about bananas….,,

I recieved a call about some “free” bees in a TALL pine tree and my Goo friend John and I checked them out. They are 30 plus feet up in a the tree with multiple openings in a long split in the trunk. It will be a real challenge. Not sure I am the man for the job. 

 While looking over the yard I noticed a banana plant, a Burro banana plant, with a very nice stalk of nature bananas. Located behind that plant is what looks like a Manzano plant with a stalk developing. Wow!

So, I gave a lesson and cut a nice big hand of bananas for the home owners. I will definitely have to follow up. Here is a photo of a recently cut hand from my plant that is identical to the one I cut at the homeowner’s house.

From the photo you can definitely see where the term “chunky banana” comes from. 

Earlier in the day we went by one of my hives in the backyard of a friend. This is an 8 frame garden hive, two deeps and two medium supers, started from a package during the second week of April. This colony just exploded. Must be a great Queen and on top of that, a great location. The plan for the visit was the remove excess  frames, consolidate and ready the hive for the remainder of the summer. Well, the hive was over flowing and chock full. The result was 40 pounds of honey and we still left them with plenty. Added some hive beetle traps and closed them up. 

One of my garden hives pictured above from earlier in the spring. Just two deep boxes and no supers. Top bar hive in the background. 

Now, a day later, FYI, this is taking me three days to jot down, I need to visit my top bar hives and another set of garden hives before I run off on my Californua adventure. I was just reminded that I need to organize and clean up my hive work site – yes dear



Banana Bonanza


2016 – the banana plants have been going bananas! Literally. Yes Plants not trees. The past two winters here in Houston have been mild resulting in the banana bonanza. I pulled up some info from the Texas A&M Horticulture website;


Here is the intro to growing the bananas;


Julian W. Sauls Extension Horticulturist

Broad, long, graceful leaves and rapid growth-commonly reaching full size in just a few weeks-make banana a favorite plant for providing a tropical look to pool and patio areas. The development of bananas following a frost-free winter is a source of both pride and amazement to those unfamiliar with banana culture.

Banana is a tropical herbaceous plant consisting of an underground corm and a trunk (pseudostem) comprised of concentric layers of leaf sheaths. At 10 to 15 months after the emergence of a new plant, its true stem rapidly grows up through the center and emerges as a terminal inflorescence which bears fruit.

The flowers appear in groups (hands) along the stem and are covered by purplish bracts which roll back and shed as the fruit stem develops. The first hands to appear contain female flowers which will develop into bananas (usually seedless in edible types). The number of hands of female flowers varies from a few to more than 10, after which numerous hands of sterile flowers appear and shed in succession, followed by numerous hands of male flowers which also shed. Generally, a bract rolls up and sheds to expose a new hand of flowers almost daily.”

Ok – enough of the technical talk. The bonanza is a bit like your neighbor that is overwhelmed with zucchini – you hide when you see them coming. Yes, I gave away a lot of bananas. Once you cut the stalk off the ripening process speeds up. They are great in smoothies but one smoothie a day doesn’t take much of a bite out of the bounty. Eating fresh is a good idea too, but………you get the idea. The freezer is well stocked with both the Burro and Manzano bananas so now what?

Jam, yeah jam! Never heard of banana jam…..Google it! Yes Virginia, people do make banana jam!

Food.com, Yee Haw!

Banana  Jam by Chef GreanEyes on April 2nd 2009

4 cups of ripe bananas……no problem here!

6 ½ tbsp.  of lemon juice

6 cups of sugar – again no problem, I buy 25 pound bags to feed to the bees during lean times

3 ounces of pectin –

¾ cup of unsalted butter – I cut that back to a little less than ½ cup

Now the tough part…..it takes time and multiple steps to make the jam.

  1. Combine bananas, 3 cups sugar, lemon juice and let stand for an hour
  2. Add remaining sugar and cook over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved
  3. Bring to a boil for two minutes
  4. Remove from heat and skim foam
  5. Bring back to a boil – boil 1 minute
  6. Remove from heat and skim foam, yes, again
  7. Add butter and bring to boil AGAIN
  8. Add pectin and stir constantly
  9. Boil for  1 minute
  10. Remove from heat and skim once again.
  11. Allow to cool for 7 minutes
  12. Add to sterilized canning jars
  13. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes
  14. Let sit for 24 hours

Then enjoy!


On the stalk and very ripe.


Boil and skim 1, 2 or 3…..


Some of the skimmed foam, no, it didn’t go to waste.


Based on what is on the “plant” in my garden, I have more neighbors to overwhelm, more freezer space to occupy and maybe a few more batches of this jam. The first batch was with the Burro bananas, the next will be with the Manazano…..taste test comparisons sometime soon!




Bee Adventures


Yesterday morning, yes too early for the bees  (mistake one), I went to check on and maybe harvest some honey from my original top bar hive. It has been intolerably hot lately, hot enough to make the wax comb very soft. This topbar hive is my gentle hive. See photo below;

I normally just smoke them a little and wear my veil as seen in the photo! Today I decided to gear up and wear my white overalls, gloves and the above veil.

Mistake two; The bees were agitated from the “git go!” No problem, I had smoke and protective gear. It was 8:45 in the morning and the top bar hive was still in the shade. Probably a thousand or more clustered on the outside and little evidence of foraging…..

The veil has long strings and the trick is to make sure that my collar is flipped up and the veil secured without gaps. Mistake number three, I failed to check the collar and the fit. All of a sudden I feel air from beating wings on my face.

“John, are the bees inside my veil?”  I ask.

“Yes, quite a few”, he responds.

I start heading out of the area and I have company both inside and out. They seem to be pissed at me and ignoring John. I took 6-7 or more in the back of my head and a few more on my forehead.

I wander back to my Suburban, licking my wounds and suit up. John is putting the bars back in place and the top back on. I return to take a peek at the other topbar hive and the two Langstroth hives.

The 8 frame is healthy but growing slower than my other three 8-frame hives. The 10 frame hive is doing nicely with a queen hatched from my original top bar hive. FYI,  my top bars sized to fit in my Langstroth hives. The second top bar hive was also cloned from a queen cell and a few  bars of brood, pollen and honey from the original hive.

Ok, I have orders from the sales manager (my wife for some cut comb and I know where to go. I have two 8 frame hives nearby and I have been anxious to harvest them. I pulled 11 frames, 3 beautiful ones for cut comb and we extracted the others.

I wound up with 12 – eight ounce squares and I also boxed up all the trimmings. I let them drain a bit on the rack before boxing them up. I love cut comb! I also wound up with over 30 pounds of liquid honey. Two more hives to visit in the next day or two to  on the honey production.



Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: