Thursday, September 07, 2006

Honey Bee Update

Back in April I made a post about when we got bees. I’d like to make a correction about how many bees came in a box. I had said there was 10,000 to 12,000 that where shipped in a box. I later found out I was mistaken. There where a lot of bees but, not near that total. One of these days I’ll ask the bee guy how many we had gotten. But, until then just suffice it to say those numbers where inaccurate.

If you recall, me and my buddy Dan had set up some bees here. Actually Dan got the ball rolling by surprising me with an order of bees and since he was in the process of moving we set his bees up here also. Part way into the summer Dan came and got one of his hives. I had tried using some old frames in mine which had very old honey comb already attached. Turned out the bees didn’t take to it well and one of my hives swarmed never to be seen again. So I quickly put together some brand new frames and redid the remaining hive. Those bees took to that and are now doing well but, since I’m going to try wintering them over, we won’t be taking any honey this year. I still have Dan’s other hive. It however is doing exceptionally well and he’ll have a bumper crop of honey from that one.

One day last month while I was away Dan stopped by to check on the bees. Well, it was during that hot spell and those bees were a little on the testy side. They didn’t take too kindly to Dan’s interference and sent him high tailing it back to the house. A few even got in his hood with him and he got a number of good stings about his head and face. One of them got him smack on the end his nose.

Kelli and I were at her sisters new place and the kids called me on my cell phone asking if we had anything at home to doctor Dan with. All we had was some Caladryl lotion so I they doused him down good with that. By the time we got home Dan had already left. We probably missed him by 15 or 20 minutes. I arrived to see his bee suit laying on the ground so I thought I’d go out and see if the hives were still all standing. I peaked around the red shed keeping a respectable distance and saw that Dan had enough wits about him to put everything back to order even while being chastised by those cantankerous little varmints. Well, I wasn’t there but just a moment when a couple of those little buggers spotted me there peaking around the shed and they started doing that dive bombing thing and in nothing flat they called some more of their buddies and I was soon re-enacting Dan’s race back to the house. I new they where right on my heals and Kelli happened to see them in the low angle rays of light from the setting sun and yelled out through the window, “their right behind you“. Well I kicked er in to high gear, surprising myself that I still had in me to do a sprint, imagining the whole hive being in hot pursuit. Turned out it wasn’t that many bees but, it was well enough I didn’t loaf since they were still plenty mad after Dan got em all stirred up. I later called him to ask what got into them. Apparently it was just too hot and they just didn’t have any patience for someone poking around where they didn’t belong. The next day they let me peak at them without putting up a fuss. But I gained some healthy respect for what they can do when they get all riled up.

Today my order arrived from Cumberland Books. Thanks Rick for the quick service! I ordered all 5 of Joel Salatin's books that Cumberland Books carries. I’ve been meaning on checking out his writings ever since I stumbled onto this Christian Agrarian web log community. I began noticing links to his farm on a number of the other blogs. I had heard Salatin’s name before through Countryside magazine. I new he had contributed some influences over the homesteading movement in general but, until recently didn’t realize to what extent. It seems to me Joel Salatin has influenced homesteading and small scale farming considerably with his idea’s and writings. For those of you who know him this is no news at all but, it is an aha moment for me.

Last week I had down loaded some links and printed out some articles that Cumberland Books had of his and I devoured every bit of it. Now that the books are here I have a lot of reading ahead of me. I’m looking at the 5 books as they sit on the table and they must be a good 5 inches in height all stacked together. I was surprised at how thick the books were when I pulled them out of the box. Anyway, enough said about that.

This Joel Salatin fellow has a lot of good idea’s. I like how he interjects a lot of his philosophy into the topics. I wish I had been armed with all this information years ago. Between all the good publications and all the good web loggers out there, a person who is just getting into agrarianism or is thinking about it, has a real fighting chance of making a go of it, if they’ll take the time to glean all that accumulated wisdom.

Until Next Time


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Russ!

Good post!

I especially enjoyed your tales on your cantankerous bees. I can just picture all that you described in my head!!!

Hope the fall is smiling for you and your family. We got a touch of frost last night and it's supposed to be colder tonight. Brought in bushels of tomatoes and peppers today.

May the Light of God's love continue to guide your path!

10:39 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Hey Steven,
Country life can be quite entertaining, I must say. We spend hours just watching all the funny stuff that goes on.

We haven't had a frost yet but, it almost feels like it could tonight. Haven't seen any frost warnings announced yet. A little bit ago we all were debating as to whether or not to run out and cover up our beds with plastic. Still alot of produce to come out of them yet. It's going on 11 PM right now so I think were going to gamble that it's not going to frost tonight. I hope were right.

I really enjoyed your series of posts on hand threshing grain. I've never seen such in-depth discussion on that topic. Very informative. Thanks for sharing all that and documenting your efforts.


11:02 PM  
Blogger squire said...

Just found your blog. I am heading out the door to work but have bookmarks it so I can read all the posts. Sounds great, thanks

8:18 AM  
Blogger RL said...

Hello Squire,
Welcome! I went and checked out your blogs. Interesting stories. I'll be back over to check out some more.


8:41 PM  
Blogger Waves of Grace said...

Thinking about raising some bees next spring, so any insight would be greatly appreciated.

3:20 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Waves of Grace,


I’m still mighty green about bees but, I suppose the first thing that comes to mind would be to make sure you get a good bee suit. My hood is full of holes from mice chewing on it while it was in storage. Oddly enough I duct taped the holes. Not very pleasing to look at. Makes me feel like even more the novice while wearing it. Plus it is old and misshapen from the fact that it was in storage so it sits weird on my head. I’m never sure if a bee is going to slip in through a gap or not so it’s hard to keep my mind on the task at hand while having that continually in my mind. I hope by next year to have a brand new hood.

It’s been amazingly helpful to have our friend Dan walking me through it. Although he’s pretty new to bees himself he isn’t bashful about asking people in the know the right questions. If you can find someone near you who is doing bees I would recommend seeing if they would be willing to let you check out their operation. Better yet if you can find a bee club join it.

I did some reading on the subject several years before but had a hard time following all the lingo. So first hand experience has really been the key for me.

One other note about my hood. It is the kind that you wear with a hat. There is a hole in the top of it where the cap sticks out. If it’s on properly there isn’t any room for bees to crawl through but it always feels like they might. Plus the hat I currently own is black. Bees don’t like black so when the bees are upset they seem to buzz that hat pretty good which messes up my concentration even more. I like Dan’s hood better. It is all one piece. As the post indicates they did get in side the hood but, I’m thinking he must not have had it on right. If it was on correctly there isn’t anyway they could get in there.

Bottom line though is to find knowledgeable people who won’t mind sharing information with you and help walk you through all the steps. Bees are amazing creatures and pretty complex really. I think even experienced bee people, if they’re honest, will tell you that they are always learning something new no matter how long they’ve bee in it.


1:23 AM  
Blogger Chicken Mama said...

I'm enjoying your blog after finding it recently. I heartily agree with your assessment of Joel Salatin's writings. Just about convinces you that you can make a go of this farming thing and even make a profit maybe! :-)

We are interested in getting bees one day- even have quite a few of the hive pieces already and a bee keeper suit. Too many irons in the fire- a "city job" for my husband, homeschooling the kids, pregnancy, etc.- but we plan to live on this glimpse of heaven until the Lord comes back for us, so I guess we've got time (or, if we don't, we won't care anymore since we won't be here).

We also have a family and farming blog. Used to be on Blogger, now on Wordpress.

I'll be back soon to read more. Have a great weekend.

Laura (ChickenMama)

8:14 AM  
Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

One of the future events on my list:

Get Bees.

A few years off for that though, -need more land.

I'd heartly agree with you on Joel's writings, some good, well thought out words there.

Sorry to here about you pooch there (I've been away from the blogs a bit) We recently got a pup of our own - my (our) first dog - Digger. Been doing some basic training with him over the past month since we picked him up from the breeder. Hope to get a post up on him this Sunday. Regards.

11:31 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Welcome Laura (ChickenMama),
I know what you mean about "irons in the fire". I always say, I have more things I want to do in life than I have lifetime to do it in. But, I reckon heaven is where we'll really start livin. I checked out your blog. Nice one. I'll be adding it to my ever growing list of good reads.
Thanks for the comment.

Hey Scott,
It's always good to hear from you.
Congrats on the new pup. I'll drop by your blog to check out the details.


9:33 PM  

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