How to Make Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Making crushed red pepper flakes is a very simple process that can be done a few different ways. The two ways we have made them are in a dehydrator and in the oven. The oven gave us better results, and so that is the only way we make them nowadays. Here’s what you do!

  1. Grow your preferred hot red pepper, and wait until they turn all the way red. We grow Serrano peppers for this purpose. You could also buy the peppers, if you don’t want to grow them.

2. Pick the peppers once they turn red. After picking, they will usually last about a week on the counter top, and probably longer in the refrigerator, though we don’t refrigerate them. Basically, you want to have at least a handful of peppers to process, since you are going to be running your oven for several hours. So, if you have a few that are ready to pick, and a few more that need a couple more days to ripen, we recommend waiting the couple of days and processing a larger batch. That said, if you wait too long, the peppers you already picked will start to go bad, so just balance it the best you can.

3. Once you have your batch of hot peppers and are ready to get started, PUT ON GLOVES! Some folks are tougher than me and have no problem working with hot peppers without gloves, but the vast majority of people will quickly regret not wearing gloves during this process. Your fingers will burn terribly, and if you touch your eyes or any other sensitive areas with your peppery hands, you will be in a significant amount of discomfort. So, just trust us here and wear gloves!

4. Use a knife to cut the stems off each of the peppers, and then cut them in quarters. The slicing here can depend on the size of the pepper. If you have a smaller pepper, you may only need to cut it in thirds, while a larger one you may have to cut in eighths. Basically, you want thin slices, so that the peppers can dry more quickly.

5. As you slice the peppers, put them on a cookie sheet, along with all of the seeds! Be sure to include the seeds. The pan does NOT need to be oiled or prepared in any way.

6. Put the pan of sliced peppers/seeds in the oven on the LOW/WARM setting. Let sit for 6 hours, checking on them periodically. After 6 hours, remove the pan from the oven and check to see how brittle the dehydrated peppers are. Though they may look dry, sometimes there is still moisture in the peppers. Take a spoon and press down on a couple of peppers. If they are sufficiently dehydrated, they will crumble under the spoon very easily. If they still have moisture in them, they won’t break easily. Instead, they will feel kind of rubbery. If this is the case, they need more time. If you continue them on the LOW setting, check back every couple of hours until the peppers are brittle enough to easily crush. At this point, if you want to accelerate the process a bit, you can advance the heat to 200ºF, but this requires paying closer attention. Check back on the peppers every half hour or so. It is definitely possible to overdo it, and the peppers will turn to ash, but 200ºF is a relatively safe temperature to avoid doing that, as long as you are paying attention.

7. Once the peppers are very brittle and easy to crush, brush them off the pan and into a bowl. From here, you want to use whatever culinary tool you have on hand that could best be utilized to crush the peppers. If you happen to have a mortar and pestle, then that would be fantastic. However, we get by fine with a cereal bowl and a wooden muddler (a tool used for making mixed drinks). Crush the pepper to your desired texture. Some prefer coarse flakes, while others enjoy a more powdery pepper.

8. Once you reach your desired coarseness, store the pepper away in a dry place. Personally, we keep them in a mason jar in the pantry.

Tip: when adding your pepper to a large pot of something, such as soup, for the first time, be sure to add only a small amount at a time, stir it in and taste test before adding more. Until you get used to it, you may find it surprising how far just a little bit of your pepper can go!

Thanks for reading, and have fun making (and eating) your crushed red pepper flakes.

-Mayetta Farms

Raised Bed Hoop Tunnels

Why and how to make a raised bed hoop tunnel in 5-10 minutes…


These are our hoop tunnels. In the warmer months, we use them to hang bird netting over our crops, to keep birds, squirrels, and other animals out of our raised beds, while still easily allowing bees and other pollinators in.

In the colder months, we hang 6 mil greenhouse plastic over them, protecting them from the cold. This warmth and frost protection allows us to start growing early, and to keep harvesting much later in the season.

Combine these perks with the fact that they are incredibly cheap and easy to make, and that gives you the ‘why’ we do this.


Simply buy ten foot lengths of 1/2” PVC pipe. The number you need will depend on how long your garden bed is. I like to place them every few feet (roughly). You will also need one for the top of each bed, creating a spine, if you will. If your raised bed is longer than 10 feet, you will either need a longer spine, or perhaps you can put a couple pieces together.

Hammer a 3-4 foot piece of rebar into each corner, and every few feet along the inside walls. Be sure that each piece of rebar has another corresponding piece directly across from it, on the other side of the bed. If your raised bed has a bottom, you may have to use shorter pieces of rebar that go down to the bottom, but only stick out of the top of the soil 2-3 inches.

Once your rebar is hammered in place, place your PVC pipe over the end of a piece of rebar, and then bend it as needed to place the other end over the corresponding piece of rebar on the opposite side of the bed. Once each PVC pipe is in place, you can push the ends of the pipe down into the soil, until you reach your desired hoop tunnel height. If your PVC pipe is more than 1/2” wide, it will be much more difficult to bend, so we strongly recommend the 1/2” pipe.

Then, you want to attach your PVC spine to each hoop, using U-Bolts.

Once your entire tunnel is in place, simply drape your desires material over it (i.e. bird/insect netting, shade cloth, greenhouse plastic, etc). Clip this material onto the PVC with clips/clamps of your choice, available at most hardware stores.

Happy planting!

-Mayetta Farms

Direct Seeding Crops with the Newspaper Method

If you are direct seeding crops into raised beds, consider using the newspaper method to increase your germination rates.

This method is simple. Plant your seeds as instructed on the packet, gently water, and then cover those seeds with a single layer of newspaper. Use something small, but heavy to hold down the edges of the newspaper (we use river rock). Once the newspaper is held in place, gently soak the newspaper.

After these initial steps are done, we recommend re-moistening the newspaper twice a day. Begin peeking under the newspaper each day starting at day 3 (maybe later, if you are planting a crop that has a long germination period). You are peeking under to see if your seeds have started germinating. This is where it gets tricky. There are no hard and fast rules, just personal judgement. You want to leave the paper on long enough for a substantial portion of your seedlings to sprout, but not so long that those seedlings get smothered and killed by the paper. Once you feel that you have reached this point, remove the newspaper, and continue to moisten the soil as needed, to encourage the remaining seeds to germinate, and to water the new seedlings.

Here are some carrots that were germinated using the newspaper method. As you may know, carrots have notoriously poor germination rates.


  • Newspaper helps to hold seeds in place, and protect them from birds and other animals.
  • Newspaper also helps to retain warmth and moisture, keeping the seeds in an ideal environment for germination.
  • Increased germination rate


  • A bit extra work
  • If you don’t monitor the seeds, the newspaper can smother the seedlings.

Happy planting!

-Mayetta Farms

How to Make a Shiitake Mushroom Log Stand

How to make a shiitake mushroom log stand

This stand was built for 64 logs that are each, on average, about 3.5-4″ wide. A 16 foot stand with two sides provides 32 feet of log space. That’s 384 inches. Divide that by 64 logs and you have 6 inches of space for each log, which is enough room for mushrooms to grow out without smashing into neighboring logs.


(Quantity 6) 8 foot 2×4 studs

(Quantity 6) 8 foot 2×3 studs

(Quantity 9) 2” double wide corner braces

(Quantity 8) 2” double wide mending plates

(Quantity 1 box) 2-1×2” exterior screws

(Quantity 1 box) 1-5/8” exterior screws

Have ONE of your 2×4 boards cut into four 2 foot pieces

Have ONE of your 2×4 boards cut into two 3 foot pieces and one 2 foot piece

Lay two of your uncut 2×4 boards flat on the ground end-to-end. Ensuring they are flush, connect them with a mending plate (or 2 for extra strength). Repeat this step with another 2 boards, resulting in two separate 16 foot lengths of boards. These are the two long sides of your base.

Using three corner braces per board (six per 16 foot side), attach a 2×3 board to the top of each 2×4 board. While the 2×4’s will be lying flat, the 2×3 boards should be lying on their sides on top of the 2×4’s, creating an L shape. I also used the longer exterior screws here to help attach these boards to each other. Remember to make the L’s on each 16 foot side face opposite directions, so that the L’s face each other when the base is completed (i.e. L ⅃). See circled portion of photo to visualize opposing L’s on the base.

You can then connect the side-by-side 2×3’s where they meet in the middle, using more mending plates.

Connect each end of your base with a 2 foot section of 2×4. This completes the base. This is also circled in the FIRST photo above.

Take your two other 2 foot sections of 2×4, and attach them perpendicularly to the inside (and center) of the 2 foot side boards of the base, using screws. Make the bottom of the vertical board flush with the bottom of the horizontal board. These are your vertical side boards. See photo.

Attach your last remaining two 2×3 boards end-to-end, using 2 mending plates (one on top, one on bottom). This is the top bar of your stand

Put one of your logs onto the base of the stand and lean it toward the center. While doing this, judge how tall you think the stand needs to be. It needs to be short enough that the shortest log is long enough to rest on the top board.

Once you have chosen a height, have someone hold your top bar in place, between your two vertical side boards, and then attach your side boards to the top bar using 2 screws on each side, and making sure that the top bar is level.

At this point, your stand is almost done, but you will notice that your top bar droops in the middle where the two boards connect. Support the middle by attaching your two 3 foot sections of 2×4 to either side, right at the junction where the two boards meet. The bottoms of these boards should touch the ground, providing support to the middle.

If you want, prior to the previous step, you could attach that last 2 foot section of 2×4 to the middle of the base (adding a third connecting board), in a flat position, and have the bottoms of the 3 foot vertical boards attach to that instead, but that’s not what I did.

However you go about things, the extra foot of height on the middle support boards, helps to lift the shade cloth up so that it hangs gently over the logs, rather than smothering them from end to end.

Happy growing!🍄

Using Soil Block Makers

About Soil Blocks

Soil blocks are simply blocks of soil formed by tools called soil block makers, that are used to plant seeds indoors or in a greenhouse.

Commercially available soil block makers come in a series of sizes. At Mayetta Farms, we have three different soil block makers. Our smallest one is 3/4″, our next size up is 2″, and our largest is 4″. Each block maker creates a divot in the soil block it makes. The divot on the 3/4″ block maker, is just big enough to plant a seed. However, the divot in the 2″ block maker is a 3/4″ cube shaped divot – just the right size and shape for transplanting your 3/4″ blocks into, once the seedlings start to outgrow them. As you might have guessed, the divot in the 4″ block is a 2″ cube shaped divot – just the right size and shape for transplanting your 2″ blocks into. This process is called “potting up.”

That said, not all seeds are treated the same. If you are starting lettuce seedlings indoors, you may only use the 3/4″ block and plant that directly into your garden bed. Some larger crops grow so fast that I skip the 3/4″ block altogether and start them in 2″ blocks. Many crops are transplanted into our garden beds in 2″ blocks, and never make it to 4″ blocks. However, crops like tomatoes make the 4″ blocks necessary, because we like to get them started as early as possible inside, to get a head start on the season.

How to Use

  • Add water to your soil block mix. After a bit of practice, you will get a feel for how much water to use. You want the soil to be moist enough to hold together without crumbling, but not so moist that it becomes a mush.
  • Fill the soil block maker with the moistened soil, making sure that it is packed in tightly. If you don’t pack enough soil into the block maker, your blocks won’t be properly formed.
  • Release the soil blocks onto your germination tray.
  • Sow and cover your seeds with however much soil the seed packet recommends.
  • Carefully water the tops of the blocks. We recommend using a gentle mist setting on a spray bottle, to avoid displacing seeds.
  • Put plastic over the top to keep in the humidity.
  • Once you see roots emerging from the soil block, it is time to either place your smaller soil block into the next largest size block, or transplant it into your garden bed.

Pros and Cons of Soil Blocks


  • Soil blocks do not require any plastic. You set the blocks on germination trays. Some gardeners opt to make their own germination trays from wood for better durability, and to avoid plastic altogether. However, even if you use plastic germination trays, as I do, those kinds of trays last many years, unlike the flimsy plastic trays with cells, which are spent after a season or two.
  • Air pruning. When the roots grow to the edge of the soil block and hit air, they simply stop growing and wait for more soil. That way, when you put them in the ground they are ready to start growing in their new home. Conversely, when you grow in pots, you may have noticed that the roots wrap around the pot. This is called being “root bound” and it increases the risk of transplant failure.


  • Making soil blocks is very time consuming, and time is money on a farm!
  • Soil blocks are also quite messy. Ideally, you would have a greenhouse for this task, but they can be made inside, if you work on an easily cleaned surface.

Whatever method you choose, happy planting!

-Mayetta Farms

How Mayetta Farms Beeswax Lip Balm is Made

This is not a recipe, but rather a glimpse behind the scenes of how we make our beeswax lip balm here at Mayetta Farms, so that our customers can feel confident about what they are putting on their lips.


Our lip balm containers are BPA free.

The ingredients we use in our beeswax lip balm are: organic coconut oil, beeswax (from our own hives only), organic shea butter, organic peppermint essential oil, and vitamin E oil.

Here is a photo, so you can see the exact brands we use…

Making the Lip Balm

First, we put the proper portions of each ingredient in a glass bowl.

Then we heat it using the double boiler method.

Then we pour the mixture into our lip balm containers, using a special tray to hold them in place.

Once the mixture cools and solidifies, we scrape off the excess, so that the lip balm is flush with the top of the container.

Now it’s time to put the caps and labels on each tube.

All done!

At Mayetta Farms, we think it’s best to know as much as possible about the products you consume, whether they be cosmetics, food, or anything else. We hope that showing you our processes makes you feel more confident in the products we offer.

Thanks for your support!

-Mayetta Farms

The Basics of Hatching and Raising Quail

To hatch and keep quail, you will need the following:

– Fertile quail eggs
– Incubator
– Brooder
– Food/feeder
– Water/waterer
– Hutch
– Bedding
– Dust bath container
– Dust bath medium
– Food grade diatomaceous earth (optional)

These are general instructions for hatching and raising quail. There can be variations, depending on personal preference and the type of quail you intend to raise, so it would be worthwhile to look into the specifics of the variety of quail you choose, and to weigh out your options within your own context. That said, this guide should serve as a useful tool, regardless of how you go about things.

Buying Eggs

When purchasing quail eggs, it’s important to look at a few different things.

  • How far will the eggs have to travel and over what time frame? The longer the shipping, as a general rule, the worse your hatch rate will likely be. Eggs can be damaged in travel, and even just the time alone can have a negative impact on your hatch rate. Try to find something close by with a quick shipping option (preferably 1-2 days).
  • Does the company have good reviews? We received some eggs from a company, where only 1 out of 25 (or so) hatched. They sent us a replacement batch, and none of those hatched. We switched to another company with good reviews, and we had much better luck. If you see a majority of reviews boasting of good hatch rates and/or low disease, that will probably be your best bet!
  • Does the company offer any recourse for poor hatch rates? This is a tough one, because part of me doesn’t expect the company to take responsibility for poor hatch rates. After all, who’s to say it was their fault that your eggs didn’t hatch? There are plenty of missteps that can cause poor hatch rates, that have little to do with the egg supplier. That said, if a company knows you typically have good hatch rates and have done everything properly, sometimes they will reassure you that, if you have no luck, they will make things right. This may be a tenuous agreement, but it’s better than nothing, and could save you a little trouble in the end, and may also help them keep you as a customer. I wouldn’t say this is a deal breaker, but it’s something to consider.
  • How does the price compare to other companies? In farming, it’s important to be efficient with money and resources, so be sure that you are getting the best price you can, without sacrificing too much in other areas, such as close shipping and good reviews/hatch rates. It may be worth it to pay more money, if you believe you will be receiving a better product, but if you can find what appears to be an equally good product for less money, then that makes the decision easy!
  • NPIP certification. According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, “NPIP provides certification that poultry and poultry products destined for interstate and international shipments are disease free.” It may be important to you to know that your egg supplier is NPIP certified. To read more about that, and decide for yourself, I recommend reading about it on the USDA website. Here’s a link: National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP)


Choosing an Incubator

This process can be however complicated you want it to be, and I won’t pretend to be more knowledgeable than I am on this topic. There are substantial rabbit holes to navigate, that appear to require an advanced degree in physics, if you so wish to do that level of research. All I will say here is that we use the Magicfly incubator, which has given us up to an 85% hatch rate, just following the provided instructions, and we are happy with that. When you look at different options, consider how much work you want to put into it. Do you want to manually turn your quail eggs, or would you rather have an automatic egg turner? The Magicfly has an automatic egg turner, and the size is adjustable, making it great for quail eggs, which are substantially smaller than chicken eggs. Like anything else, read reviews, watch videos, and make sure the incubator you choose is the best option for your situation and your pocketbook!

Picking or Building a Brooder

A brooder is simply a warm place to keep baby chicks until they are fully feathered and ready to go outside into their hutch (usually 2-3 weeks). There are various options for heating, but the most common option is the heat lamp. At Mayetta Farms, we went all-out on our brooder. We plan on hatching all sorts of birds for decades to come, so we decided to get a professional grade brooder right from the get-go. This offers a built-in feeding and watering system, adjustable thermostat, and a pull-out tray for easy waste disposal. It’s very sturdy, and has worked great for us. That said, it was very expensive, and unless you are confident that this is something you want to do for a long time, there is really no reason to spend that much money. You can buy a large metal stock tank, or even a large Rubbermaid container, and attach a heat lamp to it. Make sure there is ample space for the birds to move away from the heat lamp, should they become overheated. The rule of thumb is this: if your chicks are all huddled together under the heat lamp, they are too cold. If they are all trying to get away from the heat lamp, they are too hot. If they are evenly spaced throughout the brooder, the temperature is likely just right. So, adjust your lamp accordingly, and be sure to keep a close eye on them. As they get older and have more feathers and body mass (after a week or so), you can start decreasing the amount of heat you are providing – just be careful to monitor their behavior. Quail often pant when they are too hot, and shiver when they are too cold, so that is another indicator to look for. Note: be sure to read up on your heat lamp of choice, and keep it an adequate distance from flammable materials.

I recommend also keeping a thermometer in your brooder, so that you know how hot it really is in there. If you read online, you will find that the general rule of thumb is to set the brooder at 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer or 95 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and then decrease the temperature by 5 degrees every week, until week 5, when they are released outside. However, my experience has been quite different. I cannot imagine keeping quail in a brooder for 5 weeks, even in the winter. They are itching to get out after only a couple of weeks, and by the end of week 3, they are looking longingly out the window of our brooder, and trying to fly out, whenever the lid is opened. My (less scientific) technique is to start at the 90/95 degree mark, and then start turning the thermostat down a little bit at a time every few days, until it’s turned all the way off at the 2 (summer) or 3 (winter) week mark. Then, I leave them in an unheated brooder for 2 days before releasing them outside. That said, there is nothing concrete about this technique. If the birds appear cold after I turn down the brooder, I increase the temperature slightly. Similarly, if it’s brutally cold outside the day I was slated to place the quail in the hutch, I will wait for a more tolerable day.
In your brooder, you will (of course) also need to have food and water. Continue reading for our recommendations.



Choosing a Feed and a Feeder

When looking for quail feed, you want a wild game bird feed with 20-30% protein. Some people will recommend grinding up their feed for the first week, to make the food particles smaller and easier for them to eat. You can do this if you want, but we find it to be a waste of time. If you give the feed as it comes, the quail will eat the smaller particles when they are younger, and start eating the larger particles when they are able. You will occasionally hear stories about quail chicks choking on feed and dying, but these stories are rare and usually unsubstantiated, and for every one person with a story like this, you can find several people who have never ground their feed and never had a problem – us included. However, it doesn’t hurt to play it safe, if that’s what you want to do. As for feeders, you generally want to find something that the quail can get their beaks into, but not their feet. When quail are able to get their feet into their feed, they scratch a lot of the feed out, wasting it. For a few bucks, you can find a circular feeder that attaches to a standard mason jar, which you fill with feed. For snacks, we recommend mealworms, black soldier fly larvae (BSFL), and fresh fruits, such as blueberries. If you mix the meal worms and BSFL into the bedding and/or dust bath, you can entertain your birds, by giving them something to forage for.



Choosing a Waterer

I have a couple very important recommendations here. For the first couple weeks of life, be very sure to have a waterer that is made specifically for quail. Quail chicks commonly die from drowning in their water, so there are waterers that attach to mason jars, that are made specifically for quail. They have a narrow channel that holds the water. This makes it so that the quail can only get their beaks into the water, preventing them from getting stuck and drowning. My second very important recommendation, if you do use the mason jar attachment waterer, is to make certain that you loosen the attachment (about a half turn) after putting it on. If you don’t, the water will not readily come out. At Mayetta Farms, we lost 3 quail chicks this way. We assumed that, since there was a hole for the water to come out, that it would indeed come out. However, probably due to some law of physics, that is not the case. So, loosen the base a half turn, and until you get a feel for what works, keep an eye on the birds for the first couple of days to make sure they are really getting water.
Note in this photo: the jar is full of water, and yet there is no water in the base for the quail to drink. This is an example of a base that has not yet been loosened to allow water flow.
For the winter, if you live in a place that gets below freezing, as we do, you will either need to refresh the water a couple times a day, or get your quail a waterer with a heat component. We use the K&H Electric Poultry Waterer, and have so far had good luck.
Note: We recently learned that hot water freezes faster than cold water (more physics for you), so filling a waterer with hot water may not be as effective as you might imagine.

Choosing or Building a Hutch

When building or buying a hutch, there are a few things to consider.

One consideration, is space. Opinions on the proper amount of space per bird, vary significantly. I will let you decide what is right for yourself. Our hutch is about 16 square feet, and it seems entirely reasonable to us to have 16 quail in the hutch. That ratio (1 bird per square foot) is the one I see mentioned the most. However, some people fit more birds than that into their space.
Another thing to consider is the type of flooring. Many people use wire flooring, allowing quail manure to fall through the floor to the ground, for easy cleaning. At Mayetta Farms, we keep our quail on pine shavings. Wire floors can give quail foot problems, such as bumble foot. It also creates a conundrum, where if the openings in the wire floor are big enough for manure to fall through easily, they are also big enough for predators to get to your birds. Again, you will have to decide what is best for your context.
Preferably, quail hutches should have a nesting box with solid walls and a solid floor, where they can go if the weather gets too bad.

To secure your coop, we recommend 1/4 inch hardware cloth around the outside. Prior to hardware cloth, we had a wire with larger openings, similar to chicken wire, and we lost 8 quail to a raccoon in a single night. Since applying the 1/4 inch hardware cloth, we have lost no birds to predators. Having a hutch that is raised off the ground is helpful at keeping predators away, but refrain from putting anything near the hutch that predators can climb on to, giving them better access. The raccoon that killed 8 of our quail, was also helped by a stack of 5-gallon buckets next to the hutch that acted as a ladder, giving him easy access to the birds.Lastly, learn from our mistake, and make sure your hutch has a large door. Adding a door like this to our hutch is on my to-do list, because our current door, which is very small, makes everything more difficult. For example, cleaning would be much easier with better access. Also, larger feeders and waterers could fit into the hutch more easily.

Dust Baths

The container used for a dust bath, can be just about anything that can hold dirt and that the birds can get into. In the brooder, I have used plastic salad mix boxes. In the hutch, I currently use a 2 inch deep metal tray that I picked up at a thrift store. There are various options for dust bath contents. Quail really seem to enjoy sand. They also enjoy peat moss, or just straight up dirt. If you are going to use dirt from your own property, first be sure that it’s not contaminated. Living in the city, I opt for store bought sand or peat moss, because I don’t trust the soil around my house (which is also why I garden in raised beds). Just be sure the medium is dry and dusty. Wet sand/mud doesn’t do much to help them. Dust baths help keep quail clean and mite-free. If you want to do more to prevent mites, you can buy a bag of food grade diatomaceous earth, and sprinkle it in, according to the instructions. When the dust bath becomes soiled and full of manure, empty it into the compost bin and freshen it up.


Final Thoughts

So, that is our advice on getting into quail keeping. When we got interested in quail, we did a ton of research, and read advice from several different sources. We recommend that you do the same. See what other quail keepers are recommending out there. Look at all your different options, and pick what is best for you. Whatever you end up doing, have fun! Raising quail is a fulfilling endeavor. We hope you enjoy it as well.
-Mayetta Farms

Rendering Beeswax

When beeswax is first harvested, it is full of debris, and needs to be rendered (purified) to make it suitable for use in candles and cosmetic products. There are expensive machines that can help with this, but at Mayetta Farms, we do it the old fashioned way – by hand. Here’s how!

We start with beeswax. In this case, some of the wax was from the cappings that we scraped off to harvest honey. The rest of the wax was beeswax that I had collected over the course of the season. Every time I scrape off any burr comb (excess comb built outside the frame), I toss it into a bag to use it later, for this purpose.

We put all of the wax into a pot of water, and put it on the stove, heating it until all the wax has melted into a liquid. Once the wax is liquid, we take the pot off the burner and set it to the side to cool.

As the pot cools, the wax will begin to solidify and float to the top. The vast majority of debris will end up on the underside of the floating wax. This must be scraped off and discarded.

After discarding the debris, rinse the pot, put fresh water in it, put the wax back into the pot of water, and repeat the process. Again, after the water cools and the wax solidifies and floats, scrape and discard the debris from the bottom of the wax.

The wax will get cleaner and cleaner with each round. How many times you must do this depends on how clean it was to begin with. It can take 10 rounds or so to become perfect. Some light weight debris may float up into the wax. Such debris can be removed with a toothpick while the wax is cooling.

We recommend only using 1/2 to 1 inch of water in the pot. The more you use, the longer it takes to cool.

Happy rendering!🐝

-Mayetta Farms

How to Harvest Honey

This is a how-to guide for harvesting honey using an extractor.

Tools needed: extractor, uncapping tool, food grade bucket with spout, double sieve, jars/lids.

Tips before you start: we strongly advise only harvesting honey on an easily cleaned surface. Otherwise, we recommend covering the floor with plastic. Also, never harvest honey outside, or you will be covered in bees in no time. Lastly, remember that 75-80% (depending who you ask) of the honey on the frames that you harvest, MUST be capped with wax. Otherwise, it’s not ready to be extracted. The bees cap honey with wax once they have reduced the water content enough to make it an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth, so if you harvest too much unfinished honey, you will increase the chance of your honey going bad. If harvested properly, honey should never go bad!

So, here we go…

After preparing for harvest and getting all of our tools and equipment ready, here are the steps we take:

1. Remove the wax cappings from both sides of each frame of honey using an upcapping tool. There are a few different options available for uncapping tools. There are uncapping scratchers (pictured here), uncapping knives, and even heated knives that cut through the wax easier. We generally use both scratchers and knives, but we don’t use the heated knife, because we don’t want to expose our honey to heat.

2. Once uncapped, put each frame into the extractor until the extractor is full of frames. If you don’t have enough frames to fill the extractor, you should try to balance what you have. For example, this extractor holds 6 frames. If you didn’t have 6 frames, but you had 3, you would want to place the 3 frames evenly around the extractor, so that it’s balanced while spinning.


3. Hand crank (or turn on, if electric) the extractor for several minutes in either direction, until all of the honey has left the comb, and is dripping down the inside walls of the extractor.


4. Place a food grade 5-gallon bucket with a double sieve on top of it, under the spout of the extractor, and open the spout. The sieve removes bee body parts and pieces of beeswax that are in the honey, allowing only the honey to go into the 5-gallon bucket.

5. Open the spout of the 5-gallon bucket to fill each jar with honey.


6. Put the lid on the jar (and the label on the lid, if you wish).


All done!

Now enjoy some honey for yourself, give some to your neighbors, and sell a few jars for extra cash!

Last tip: children under the age of one year are NOT supposed to eat honey, due to the risk for botulism. We recommend informing anyone you give/sell jars to of this, just to be safe.

Thank you for reading!

-Mayetta Farms



Winterizing a Beehive

Here’s what winterizing a beehive looks like at Mayetta Farms…

First, we make sure the frames are loaded with honey to get them through the winter. If there are empty frames, we replace them with full ones.

Second, we treat the hive with a plant-based compound called oxalic acid, to prevent varroa mites from killing the bees. We prefer not to use medicated treatments. Here’s what the EPA has to say about oxalic acid: “Oxalic acid is ubiquitous in the environment being found naturally in many plants and vegetables, as well as in honey. It occurs naturally as the potassium or calcium salt in sap, notably in plants of the Oxalis and Rumex families.”

Then, we put “bee candy” on top of the frames (the white clumps in this first photo). This is a homemade fondant that we made, and that we hope the bees will not need. It’s an emergency source of food, in case the winter is longer than expected and the bees run out of honey stores to eat.


Next, we put a wooden shim on the hive around the bee candy. It simply raises the next box up an inch or so, to make room for the bee candy to sit on the frames. Then, we put a metal grate called a “queen excluder” on top of the shim. The queen excluder is not actually being used as a queen excluder here. That is a separate thing, but it works well for this, too! Here, you can see the shim and the metal grate…


On top of the metal grate, we put a medium hive box, and line it with a thin tea towel. On top of the tea towel, we fill the box with pine shavings. This is called a “quilt box.” The purpose of a quilt box, is to absorb condensation, so that it doesn’t drip on the bees, potentially killing them.


Next, we put cardboard shims in between the quilt box and the inner cover, to vent the hive.


Then we put the outer cover (not pictured here) on the very top and put heavy bricks on top of it, to help weigh down the hive, protecting it from winds.

The last photo here, is of the “entrance reducer.” It helps keep cold air out of the hive, by reducing the size of the entrance. It also reduces the amount of space that any invaders would have to access the hive. Notice that the reduced entrance is about a half inch off the floor of the hive. This is intentional. In the winter, many bees will die and fall to the floor of the hive. Having the entrance/exit raised off the floor, keeps it from being blocked off by dead bees.


Some beekeepers will also wrap their hive with some form of insulation. We have been considering doing this at Mayetta Farms as well, but so far we have found condensation to be a worse problem for us than the cold.

The only other tips I would add, is that Thanksgiving is a good rule of thumb date, by which you should have your hive winterized. Also, if you have a problem with mice, consider buying a mouse guard for your hive, because mice will get inside and chew up your frames, if you let them.

Thanks for reading!🐝

-Mayetta Farms