Goals and Methods – part 2

If you haven’t read GOALS AND METHODS – PART 1 might wanna start there.  This is part 2 of 3.

Methods 150Your individual beekeeping plan is going to depend a lot on scale.  A gardener will have a different plan for managing production on 2,000 square feet than the 10,000 acre farmer. If you’re doing this as a hobby you should NOT utilize methods of industrial or migratory beekeepers. Their goals, methods, and resources WILL be different than yours. A novice utilizing methods practiced by industrial beekeepers will be fraught with misery. A migratory keeper will be continually stressing their colonies each time they are moved. That stress has consequences that necessitate frequent inspection. A “hobbyist with a plan” is less likely to be repeatedly stressing their colonies so the need for frequent inspections is just not there.

How often and HOW should you inspect?  It depends on your goals.  If you are inspecting because, “……someone else said you should……”, SEND ME MONEY!!  Just kidding… It was worth a shot.  If you care enough to GET bees determine whether certain methods are beneficial and or necessary. Continue reading

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Goals and Methods – part 1

save the beesBeekeeping has gotten a lot of media attention in recent years and interest in beekeeping has increased. In the last 5-10 years there has been an influx of new beekeepers, many with no previous experience in agriculture or animal husbandry. A lack experience caring for animals with productivity as a goal can be a stumbling block, but conscious observation, focus and planning are all tools that we as humans have to overcome inexperience. In the last several hundred years many humans have become disconnected from agriculture.

Going through GroceryToday most people in the US at least take food and its production for granted. When low on food stores all that most have to do is go to a grocery. This is an illusion. Most have never thought or cared about the preparation, months in advance, the physical WORK, the pests and weather conditions that threaten, or any of the other trials and tribulations faced by individual producers to PUT THEIR FOOD in the grocery. That food would NOT be there if SOMEBODY did not formulate a goal based plan.  Becoming an Aparian is an important step towards a better understanding of food production and Agriculture in general. If nothing else it will give insight into all of the worries of a producer.   Continue reading

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Trapping Quick Reference

2014-05-27 11.00.00 Trap04It’s been good getting back into the swing of regular posting. In doing so I have discovered a couple things that need updating on this site. I have been talking about different aspects of swarm trapping for several years now. One thing I have failed to do is give a guide in one easy location for those wanting to get started.

Therefore I have put together a Page called the Trapping Quick Reference. It will be accessible from the HOW TO… menu on the Main Page. It starts with building traps and goes through pretty much every aspect of the process.  When reviewing this reference remember that it is NOT the definitive plan for everyone everywhere. I have only been doing this since 2011. I’ve just begun to scratch the surface on understanding of swarming behavior. Every year as I have made hypotheses, tested them, and modified my practices to become more successful. That is what beekeepers have historically done. This reference is intended to get you STARTED. Take what you can learn from here and begin experimenting on your own where you live. If you observe something profound don’t be a chump cricket about it. Pass it on!

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Nuc Box Plans

Nuc will look like this WITHOUT the hanging bar.

Nuc will look like this WITHOUT the hanging board on the side.

A while ago I posted New Swarm Trap PlansThis post was about a set of plans for 4 traps out of ONE – 4 X 8 sheet of plywood.  Sometime later a question was posed to me about the plans.  In response to further discussion those plans have been renamed as NUC plans.  This was written about in Evolution in Swarm Trap Logic back in April.  Jason from AllMorgan.com raised concerns that those traps had a total-volume that was SMALLER than the optimum cavity size especially for some of the large swarms here in Eastern and South-Eastern Indiana.  Hardy productive colonies could potentially choose larger cavities over the traps due to this aspect of bee biology. Continue reading

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Mouse Guards

20151014_104153 CROPPEDFall is coming quickly. Trees are already turning colors and we’ve experienced a couple cool nights. A form of selective pressure is on its way in the form of Winter. Many beekeepers are frantically checking their hives, fretting about varroa thresholds, stores and whether they still have time for feeding. Having feral sourced bees makes it easier to sleep at night and not worry about those things….. as much. Winter is gonna come, and I’m probably gonna lose some hives, but it’s not keeping me up at night. Losing hives is like just like making mistakes. If you’re gonna call yourself a beekeeper you’re gonna need to lose hives and make mistakes.  Sometimes a lost hive is NOT a mistake on the beekeepers part, but poor utilization of mouse guard technology IS a mistake and will contribute to colony loss.
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Extraction Flash Mob

20150920_1357582015 is turning out to be a memorable beekeeping year. There’s been late night mishaps with cops and several angry dog incidents, but I must remember it’s not over yet! I have always invited some close friends to honey extraction ever since I started keeping bees. It’s a good time for me to visit with people because it’s one of the few times of year I am in a fixed location long enough to have a conversation. This year I said something to several people about extraction Sunday, but everybody was busy this year. Over time I had asked more and more people over, but thought it was just gonna be my father-in-law and a potential co-worker “maybe”.

About 11:30 Sunday morning the text messages started rolling in…
– “Are you still extracting honey today? Be there this afternoon”,
– “Need help doing honey? See ya sometime after lunch”,
– “Our plans fell through, we’ll be there at 2… we’ll bring some appetizers and wine”.
When this started happening I knew I had better relay the message to Holly ASAP, “We’re just about to have a bunch of people over……”  It is a good we keep some mead around. We didn’t know it yet but we were getting ready to experience an impromptu BASH!  
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Fall Trap Maintenance

BAD corner

BAD corner

One of my yearly maintenance tasks is unloading swarm traps every Fall. Many of the bait combs can be used next Spring as long as you are proactive. Old brood comb is the most valuable capital for my future in beekeeping. It is the key to sourcing hardy bees that are suited to my climate and regional weather WEIRD-ISMS. Traps give you an annual return on what is primarily a single investment of mostly TIME of construction.  I was able to catch 20 swarms this summer, 15 of which are looking VERY good thus far standing a good chance for overwintering. A little maintenance now and these traps will be in service for many years into the future. Continue reading

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After hours beekeeping

My idea of a wild night.

My idea of a wild night.

Any time a married man comes rolling in at 2 a.m. there had better be a story. On Wednesday 8/5/15 I experienced such a night and it was probably the craziest night of my entire life!!! No alcohol involved in this fiasco, just BEES, police, barking dogs and a car with the exhaust broken right before the catalytic converter. Sound like a good time?

I have a 1997 Chevy Cavalier that’s seen better days. The car is getting long in the tooth and about every time I’m out something falls off of it or a new issue comes up. The exhaust had been a problem for 2 weeks. I was North of Richmond on 7/22/15 picking up 3 full traps and a raccoon got hit by the vehicle directly in front of me. It was flopping around in the road and I couldn’t miss it. Unfortunately it was a large animal and went under the car like a bowling ball striking the exhaust at some point and the throaty roar of a four cylinder white-trash beater car was born! Between work and the late swarms I hadn’t had time to fix the car so I was just listening to it and taking ribbing from co-workers, friends, and relatives. Continue reading

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Trap Talk / Get Your Traps Out There!

Submitted trap pic

Submitted trap pic

Recently I had an e-mail dialogue with a new swarm trapper from Georgia about some difficulties they are experiencing. They deployed their traps this Spring and wasps began to set up shop in 4 of their 6 traps. This subject also came up in the Treatment-Free Beekeeping Group on Facebook a while back and I was a little befuzzled. I put out a lot of traps, somewhere between 20 and 30 each of the last 4 years. I have NEVER had a wasp nest in any of my traps EVER. I don’t know if it has to do with my trap location, climate, or just the particular wasps inhabiting different regions of the United States. It got me wondering, are there others out there annoyed with wasps in their traps? Continue reading

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Resource Devotion to Reproduction

Would you say his horns are TOO BIG?

Would you say his horns are TOO BIG?

In nature we find resources utilized in what appears initially as inefficient allocations. Cases where resources are allocated in odd ways include many examples of sexual dimorphism in mammals, birds, and insects resulting in ornamentation and secondary sexual characteristics. These nuances of biology may at first glance seem unimportant, but these oddities are extremely important to every extant species on Earth today. A specific example is the HUGE amount of resources devoted to antler formation in the Family of mammals of Cervidae. Commonly known as Deer each year large amounts of resources are devoted to antler formation in males. These antlers are used not to defend the deer from hunters, to assist in some migration, or to make it easier for males to find food. An antler’s only function is ornamentation and weaponry used against other males of the same species to gain access to females.

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