Happy BEE-day!

Many people will spend their birthday at a nice restaurant or receive a nice pile of presents from loved ones. Me? I drove to Tipp City to pick up 2 packages of bees for the farm, but that’s just fine with me. I like someone else to do the cooking and getting a pile of loot, don’t get me wrong, but I guess as I become more “mature” (stop laughing…), the practical/useful stuff can be the best stuff. That’s why my Amazon wish list has things like small amber jars for making herbal tinctures/salves. But I digress.

This is the only picture I have of today’s bee installation, because I was too busy doing it to take pictures! After reading several books, watching YouTube videos, and talking with experienced beekeepers, it was go-time. I chose to don the bee veil and gloves just as a precaution, because these bees had been in the package for a while, and I know I’d be a bit irate in that situation.

I chose to (mostly) follow the information found at www.olddrone.net (the man I bought the packages from) – it seemed straightforward and the least likely to rile the bees. And he was right. The bees were calm in the package after I misted them with sugar water, and when I released them, they flew, but not angrily. They lit on my gloves (I did spill some sugar water on the gloves, so I’m sure that was a factor), and simply crawled around, then flew away.

I’ll check on them later today to see how things are going, then again tomorrow to remove the screened package and check on the queen (queens come in their own little cage, and the other bees have to eat through a candy “plug” to release her. That gives them all time to become acquainted,  then they can get to the business of getting the hive going.

Will there be honey this summer? I don’t know – most sources say don’t count on it, since the bees need to have enough honey to survive the winter. Stay tuned!


Some thoughts on the future of agriculture

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there … Continue reading

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted a link to an article on Grist about urban farming. The point of the article was that urban farming is not a panacea for our food production ills, and I made the argument that there is no one solution to those ills.

Something I did not touch on in those thoughts is something that too few people trying to reform agriculture in the 21st century talk about: how the consumer needs to change habits as part of a broader effort to improve the food we grow while reducing its impact.

Far too many reform efforts focus on the supply side–that is, on the farmer–while ignoring the consumer. People tend to ignore things like rampant food waste–as much as 60 percent of all food produced ends up in landfills–or over-consumption–the reason so many people are fat. They tend to ignore the massive impact out-of-season eating has on the environment and the economic impact massive box groceries have on local communities.

What I find interesting is that the concept of urban gardens addresses these sorts of problems too. It’s a psychological trick, but people tend to waste less food if they’ve produced it themselves, food harvested from gardens is of higher quality and nutrition, and gardening of any kind is fantastic exercise. Urban gardens can help reduce the transportation network required to keep box stores stocked with out-of-season foods and by definition keep food buying dollars local.

It is an old adage that how we spend is more powerful than how we vote. We affect the future of agriculture with our spending more than any other thing. As consumers, investing in urban gardens speaks volumes promises a brighter future.


Hives – complete

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After re-pinning the fence behind these hives because the cows had worked it loose from the posts – because look at all that grass!!!!

I did find a couple bricks to put on top of the covers, just to weight them down. We don’t want the cover to blow off in a wind!

Shaded by the fruit trees, close to water, pretty much centrally located on the farm to take best advantage of all the flowers for pollen, out of the way of most human activity – let’s start the experiment.

Almost ready for the bees

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Took a few hours on Saturday afternoon to get the beehives painted. I’ll be picking up the bee packages on the 30th, and everything needs to be ready to go by then! I’m going to put one more layer of paint (there are 2 on in this picture) today – there will be a need at some point to touch up or re-paint them, but I’d rather have it done before there are happy little bees living inside!

After the last coat of paint, the next step is to re-assemble the hives in their new home in the chicken yard. That may sound a little strange, but it really is a good location! There are 3 fruit trees that are less than 10 feet away, and water is close by. The chicken house is a good distance away, and very few of the hens hang around the chicken yard anyway – there are too many other good places to roam on the farm.

I’ll put the hives up on cinder blocks to keep them off the ground – damp is not good for the wood or the bees, and it will give good circulation on all sides of the hive.

Here goes with another “farm experiment” – and hoping we’ll get some good honey out of it as well!

Back to work

After several weeks of illness, we are (mostly) back in the saddle, just in time for the warm weather!

Lots of things start happening in the spring – clearing bits of tree that have fallen off over the winter, chainsawing scrub trees and bushes that are in the way (especially in the way of where my new herb garden will be!), planning the garden and making sure to have the seeds we need, gearing up for the summer market season, brushing the Pyrs (they have a *very* thick winter coat to shed out), and continuing work on cleaning up inside buildings. It’s a lot of work, but the warmth and sunshine really do make it more tolerable.

It truly seems that we’ve had more flooding over the last year – this is from our latest flood in early April. The river has gone down to a more normal level, but the ground is so saturated that we still have large “ponds” in the low fields. Thankful that it didn’t get higher than what you see here!

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