Wild about Bees: Backyard Hives and More

Honeybee populations are on the decline due to lack of habitat, monoculture, pesticides and a variety of diseases. After learning about the struggles of honeybees and how important they are to our food supply, we installed two honeybee colonies. Watching them and their complex community is fascinating.

Backyard beekeeping

Backyard beekeeping

Honeybee colonies include a queen, a few hundred drones and about 60,000 worker bees. Inside the hive, honeybees transition through a variety of jobs over their 6 week life cycle. Following are their roles by age.

  • Day 1-2: Clean cells, keep brood warm
  • Day 3-5: Feed older larva
  • Day 6-11: feed youngest larva
  • Day 12-17: produce wax, build comb, carry food, clear out dead
  • Day 18-21: guard entrance to hive and honey
  • Day 22-40/45 (until death): collect pollen, nectar, water, pollinate plants
Did you know honey has been harvested for centuries? A honeybee produces 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey over her lifetime. Honey does not go bad. All honey will crystalize and you can liquify it by setting the bottle on a sunny window sill. Honey has been used on wounds as an antiseptic for hundreds of years. Some people claim eating local honey reduces the impact of allergies. This may be due to a gradual exposure to local pollens.
Honeybees pollinate many of the foods we eat including cashews, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, watermelons, oranges, cucumbers, lemons, limes, carrots, strawberries, apples, avocado, cherries, almonds and blueberries. Without these foods, our produce aisle would be bare.
Life is not easy for honeybees as they are susceptible to many diseases including varroa miles, colony collapse disorder, American Foul Brood and European Foul Brood disease. Beekeepers lose about 40% of their hives each season. Due to these loses, it is hard to make a profit as a beekeeper.
You can help honeybee populations survive by planting flowers which product pollen and nectar, providing shadow water dishes for drinking, and reducing or eliminate pesticide and herbicide use.
To get started in beekeeping, you will need bees, protective clothing, hives and a smoker. McHenry County honeybee supplies are available from Sue at Harvard Egg and Feed and Warren at Spencer Apiary Supplies.
Plants that provide food and nectar for pollinators are beneficial to our environment whether or not you keep honeybees. They not only provide food and habitat for honeybees and other pollinators, they are drought resistant, low maintenance and do not need fertilizers. The Wildflower Preservation and Propagation Committee has native plant yard plans and recommended vendors and offers a mentoring program. Northern Kane County Wild Ones also has a wealth of resources.
New and experienced beekeepers can benefit from joining the Northern Illinois Beekeepers Association with meetings most months in Woodstock, Illinois.

One Room School Richardson Farm “World’s Largest” Corn Maze

Every year there is something new at the Richardson Farm “World’s Largest” Corn Maze. The Richardson family is currently moving the historic English Prairie School ¼ mile down the road to their farm.

The first English Prairie School was built on the site in 1846. It was replaced with a brick schoolhouse in 1929 and all 5 of the 5th generation Richardson’s attended this one-room school. Local children attended class here until 1962 when the building was converted into a private residence.

George Richardson in the doorway at English Prairie School

George Richardson in the doorway at English Prairie School

The Richardson family heard the building was slated for demolition and decided to preserve this piece of history. It is no easy task to move an estimated 188 tons building. A company specializing in relocating buildings has lifted the school on a trailer to be rolled along 2 block journey.

It was too costly to move the basement walls also, so the Richardson’s are moving the main floor only and setting it on a traditional basement with 9′ walls. The English Prairie School will be ready for visitors at its new location on English Prairie Road in 2013.

Read more about Richardson’s World Largest Corn Maze and Adventure Farm


Zorbing Richardson Corn Maze Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Zipline Richardson Farm and Corn Maze Spring Grove

Zorbing Richardson Corn Maze Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Richardson Farm invited us to be their guest and tour the Richardson Corn Maze and Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois including the Richardson Farm World’s Largest Corn Maze, Zorbing and Zipline. Today “Where Are You Today?” takes you with us as we go zorbing in the zorbing ball or try out the human hamster ball.

Previously we wrote about the corn maze and posted video of me riding the 700 foot zipline across the farm.

Richardson maze at night

Photo Courtesy: Richardson Adventure Farm, Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois. Candace H. Johnson - lcjedit@nwnewsgroup.com Kelsey Hoxie, 14, of Round Lake, Jenelle Nikolai, 14, of Round Lake Beach, and Lindsay Pendley, 14, of Spring Grove, walk through the Richardson “World’s Largest” Corn Maze at dusk in Spring Grove.

Richardson Adventure Farm, Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

Photo Credit: Richardson Farm World's Largest Corn Maze in Spring Grove, McHenry County, Illinois

Richardson Farm is the place for the ORB Ride also known as orbing, zorbing or sphereing in the Chicago Area. Climb the steps to the top of the launch ramp where the Certified zorbing operators strap you into an 11′ ball. They give the orb ball a push and send you plummeting down the hill!

What a rush to experience the ride as the zorbing ball races down the ramp and bounces along a grassy patch. Spectators and the faint of heart have fun watching too. Are you brave enough to try out the zorbing ball? I was!

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?” and watch me take on the zorbing human hamster ball.

You can find Richardson “World’s Largest” Corn Maze on Facebook and Twitter. Follow their updated for the latest weather reports from the farm, updates on special events and news.

The Richardson Corn Maze and Adventure Farm is located at 9407 Richardson Road near Spring Grove, IL. in northern McHenry County. It is about one hour northwest of Chicago, one hour southwest of Milwaukee or 15 minutes south of Lake Geneva. For more information call 815-675-9729.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm.

Read more about Richardson’s World’s Largest Corn Maze and Adventure Farm

One Room Schoolhouse at Richardson Farm “World’s Largest” Corn Maze

Richardson Corn Maze and Richardson Adventure Farm Spring Grove McHenry County Illinois

Zipline Richardson Farm and Corn Maze Spring Grove

Ginger Blossom Rug Craft Antiques Furniture Richmond McHenry County

Our McHenry County journey continues at Ginger Blossom in Richmond, McHenry County, Illinois. Ginger Blossom is the Northern Illinois place for rug, craft, antiques, furniture and more. Yes, Ginger Blossom is the owner and it is her real name.

Ginger travels around the world shopping for items she finds interesting and are a good value. She keep prices low by purchasing directly from producers, cutting out the middle men. Fair trade practices are important to Ginger so she seeks vendors who pay an equitable wage based on local context. Products are created in an environmentally sustainable manner using no child labor.

Welcome to Ginger Blossom Richamond, Illinois

Welcome to Ginger Blossom Richamond, Illinois

While we were there, Ginger was unpacking shipments from recent travels to Mexico, Nepal, India, Thailand, Java and Bali. A cornucopia of items from around the world are on display in multiple buildings and outdoors at this family farmstead. Sit for a spell on the spacious front porch, sample a cup of coffee, a cookie and enjoy the fresh air.

Wander through the converted cow milking barn erected in 1917 that now houses rugs of all sizes, patterns and a rainbow of colors. Stroll down aisles of hand crafted furniture from the four corners of the globe.

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It is the perfect time of year to shop in the Sweater Barn for vest, booties, mittens and sweaters to keep you toasty warm during the long Midwest winters. Update your garden with a babbling fountain or sculpture.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Note to fellow yoga enthusiasts: Outdoor yoga classes are held on the farm during the summer. Meditation and more to start the week!

Do not miss the organic produce at the self-serve market in the gazebo. The tomatoes we purchased were sweet, juicy and flavorful.

Ginger Blossom
3016 RT 173
Richmond, IL 60071
815-678-4015

Read more about our adventures in McHenry County.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Ginger Blossom.

Stades Farm Cattle Car Maze Game McHenry Illinois

Our McHenry County Visitor Bureau sponsored tour stopped at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. Due to popular demand, we are posting our adventure as three full sized adults attempt to maneuver through a slippery, metal, two story cattle car converted into a children’s maze. Vern Stade says school kids love the maze and often there are 50 children running through at once.

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Kris Cain lead the charge and was through before we started. Our videographer, Noel F. Williams decided to “roll tape” while Noel, Jim Webster and I tackled the maze designed for the three foot tall or less set. The morning rain made the metal inside of the car slick.

Notice how calmly Jim handles the phone call he gets from a client during our adventure.

Think of it as “Stade’s Maze meets Blair Witch Project”. Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

You can read more about our adventures at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry County.

Stade’s Farm and Market
3709 W Miller Road
McHenry , Il 60051
815-675-6396



Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Our McHenry County Visitor Bureau sponsored tour stopped at Stade’s Farm and Market in McHenry, McHenry County, Illinois. Vern Stade began his business with a couple of produce stands, expanded to u-pick pumpkins and now runs a popular agra-tourism destination.

The season starts with asparagus and u-pick strawberries and runs through Halloween with various produce and events.

The farm grows all the produce sold in their market except apples and blueberries. Sweet corn, tomatoes and strawberries are the biggest sellers. Mounds of zucchini, beets, cantaloupe and gourds are attractively displayed in the large farmer’s market.

Specialty items also available in the market include salsa, honey, and cookbooks. We browsed the variety of quilted items.

Quilts at Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Quilts at Stades Farm and Farmers Market McHenry Illinois

Stade’s bakery makes their own shortcake for strawberry shortcakes. Donuts, pies and zucchini bread are baked daily. Don’t miss these sweet tweets.

The market is just the beginning! Children can spend an entire afternoon with the farm activities. Shoot down the Slide Mountain. Take a spin around the farm on this barrel train pulled by an orange tractor. Walk among the llama, goats, cows and other critters and feed them in the petting zoo. Ride the ponies or the pedal cars around the two tracks.

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Our group of full sized adults took on the double decker Bovine Befuddlement and survived. I recommend this attraction for those under four feet tall. School groups have a great time in here.

Watch the video of the adults struggling through the two story corn maze game.

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

Stade's Cattle Car Maze Game

While you navigate the two acre corn maze, take the Stade challenge answering the 15 educational questions in the maze correctly and you can take home a free mini pumpkin. This year Stade’s offers a one price wristband, including admission to all attractions.

Kids can play in 500 bushels of corn in this box. This is Kris Cain showing us the little kid inside her.
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I tested out the corn cob shooter and came darn close to the hitting the targets. The biggest and loudest attraction at the farm is the pumpkin cannon. Watch video to see how the homemade artillery shoots out pumpkins at 300 feet per second. We hear the pumpkins can do serious damage to autos targeted for demolition.

Come hungry and try out the food choices at the fall harvest Shades of Autumn. The stage features local music acts you can watch or listen to while browsing the craft show and swap meet.

Stade’s celebrates a different theme each weekend with special events and discounts September through October.

  • Annual Tractors for Charity Antique Tractors, Trucks, & Construction Equipment Show
  • Pick Your Own Pumpkin Begins
  • Grandparents Weekend
  • Columbus Day Weekend
  • Sweetest Day Weekend
  • Family Fun Weekend
  • Halloween Weekend

Each Sunday morning 150 people gather at the farm for Christian worship. Several local churches hold outdoors services based on a rotating schedule.

Stade’s provides fresh produce for Northern Illinois families in need through Gleaners for the Lord, a non-profit volunteer organization which picks leftovers from the harvest.

Clickon the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Stade’s Farm and Market
3709 W Miller Road
McHenry , Il 60051
815-675-6396

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Stade’s Farm and Market.

Stade’s Market Maze Poll

Noel F. Williams and I are debating posting the video of the adults adventure going through the little kids maze made out of 2 double decker cattle cars at Stade’s Farm and Market.

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>>>>>> Poll now closed. Readers have spoken and the video has been posted.

Von Bergen Country Market Hebron McHenry County Illinois

Our stay-cation in McHenry County, Illinois continues at Von Bergen’s County Market in Hebron, McHenry County, Illinois. A real family affair, first, second and third generation work together to bring you fresh from the farm produce.

Bobette Von Bergen says the farm’s slogan is “We try to feed the world”. They are making progress on their goal one mouth at a time. As with many of the farms we visited, the Von Bergen’s provide food to those in need through food pantries.

This family vegetable farm has been a favorite for school tours for over 25 years. Each year over 2500 students visit and learn that food is grown, not made in a factory. They can even select a piece of fruit to enjoy. Princess Bright Feather shares stories of the Native Americans who farmed this area long ago.

Von Bergen Country Market Hebron McHenry County Illinois

Von Bergen Country Market Hebron McHenry County Illinois

The farm grows all the vegetables they sell though it is not just vegetables at this market. While corn, gourds and tomatoes were plentiful, there were treats for your other senses. Fill your shopping cart with apple cider, cheese, meats, honey, jams, herbs, soaps and flowers. The market is open though October.

Click
on the picture below to see the ducks in action.

Before you leave, walk out to see the animals. The geese, pot belly pigs and other critters are sure to keep the little ones entertained. In this video, Buddy and Sonny are talking to us. The dog is most animated and kept the adults in our party amused.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

VON BERGEN’S COUNTRY MARKET
9805 Rt 173
Hebron, IL 60034
815-648-2332
www.vonbergens.com

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Von Bergen’s County Market.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard Harvard McHenry County Illinois

Our McHenry County trip visits Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard, Illinois where apples rule. We found crisp fresh apples, apple pie, apple slices, caramel apples, apple donuts and apple cider. This third generation Harvard, Illinois farm is family friendly. As you cruise the scenic driveway, notice the namesake oak trees lining the road.

The orchard began with a few trees planted on Grandpa’s retirement homestead. The sprinkling of saplings grew into 13,000 apple trees in 29 varieties. U-pick apples are available July through November each year. Check with the farm for current crops as each variety matures at different times of the season.

Our tractor pulled wagon ride took us through the orchards where Justin Bell explained the history of the farm and how they create new trees through grafting. Each year 1000 new trees are planted. As we continued our ride, we passed u-pick raspberry and blackberry bushes. Choose your own pumpkins and gourds. The farm has their own bee hives and their Apple Blossom honey is sold in the gift store.

Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market produce

A bounty of produce at Royal Oak Farm Orchard Market

Stop by the market to stock up on farm fresh produce, bakery items and gifts.

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Try the blackberry pie at Royal Oak Farm County Restaurant

The Royal Oak Farm Country Restaurant is a popular comfort food lunch stop. Breakfast is available on Saturday mornings. I recommend the blackberry raspberry pie with ice cream.

Click on the picture below to watch a video of our visit.

Kids will keep busy in the entertainment area. Feed and pet the animals in the petting zoo, ride the carousel or the “Royal Oak Express” trackless train.

Connect with Royal Oak Farm Orchard on Twitter and Facebook for updates. Corporate groups, family reunions, birthday parties, weddings, receptions and large groups welcome.

ROYAL OAK FARM ORCHARD
15908 Hebron Road
Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-658-4141
www.royaloakfarmorchard.com

Royal Oak Farm is open for apple picking July through November. Hours and prices vary. Check their website for PumpkinFest and AppleFest special events.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau and Royal Oak Farm Orchard.

Royal Oak Farm Country Kitchen Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A-Mazing Meadow View Maze Harvard McHenry County

Our tour of McHenry County continues with a visit to Meadow View Farm maze, pumpkins and more in Harvard, Illinois in McHenry County. This adventure farm is the perfect fall outing for the whole family where you can enjoy a day in the country atmosphere. Brothers John, Joel and their families opened the affordable, family friendly attraction on the family farm. Their grandfather purchased the farm 36 years ago and their parents, aunts, uncles and grandmother still live on the property.

The ten-acre corn maze has 2.66 miles of paths depicting a farm scene with tractors and barns. Start out with your blank punch card and see if you can find all 12 stations where you can make a special punch mark on your card.

Take the wagon ride, pulled by a tractor out through the corn fields to the pumpkin patch to select your perfect pumpkin in the pick your own pumpkin field. Jump back on the wagon to complete your ride.

Click on the image below to view this episode of “Where Are You Today?”

Even the littlest ones can select pumpkins and gourds while shopping on their own in the ready picked area. It was fun to watch the little ones pulling their wagons full of colorful gourds. They will also enjoy playing in the corn sensory tables.

Ready for more fun? Kids will burn off energy jumping in the bounce house and climbing the hay mountain. Test your accuracy launching corn or pumpkins at targets.

When you are ready for relaxing, head out the eight fire pit areas or the pavilion you can call ahead to reserve.

Serving locally grown Mirai corn at Meadow View Farm

Serving locally grown Mirai corn at Meadow View Farm

The farm features locally grown Mirai sweet corn. Save room for other tasty treats like kettle corn, burgers, hot dogs, brats, hot pretzels and more while sipping hot apple cider.

Connect with Meadow View Farm on Facebook for updates and savings. Corporate groups, family reunions, birthday parties and large groups welcome.

MEADOW VIEW CORN MAZE
17020 Streit Road
Harvard, Illinois 60033
815-482-0908

Meadow View Farm is open August through October. Hours are Friday 5-11 PM, Saturday 11-11 PM, Sunday 12-10 PM. Special events each weekend.

Our trip was sponsored by the McHenry County Visitors Bureau andMeadow View Farm.

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