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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Evolution in Swarm Trap Logic

A while back I had some dialogue with Jason a beekeeper that operates about 45 minutes to the South of me. I have been talking bees with him for several years now over the internet though we never really have met in person. He is a member of a Bee Club that I have attended in the past Southeastern Indiana Beekeepers Association. He notified me of a swarm trapper who had pointed out a flaw with the 5 frame traps I had available for a while on this site.

2015-04-20 -- 01 swarm-trap

Picture of larger volume trap.

He stated that he felt they were too small, and actually he is probably right. Now I know that some have already built these things and that’s OK. They can still catch swarms, but they probably aren’t giving you the best opportunity to select for larger colonies of bees. If you have them already don’t fret. They can still be an asset in your beekeeping operation. More on that in a minute. Continue reading

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Fear-Based Beekeeping

Screw FearI listen to a lot of podcasts. Several of them are Beekeeping Podcasts that have come and gone over the last several years. Unfortunately an annoyingly consistent theme arises frequently in these BeeK-Casts. This recurrent theme is FEAR.  Fear seems to drive beekeepers to wishy-washy practices that include treatment regimens, feeding, and frequent manipulations. So in this supposed enlightened time, when we have access to more information than ever before in history, why is fear based Beekeeping so pervasive?

Would you go to a Fear-Based Financial Advisor for advice about your retirement? Perhaps some people would, but count me OUT! Fear is an extremely basic animal response to stress and we must always remember that when dealing with complex problems.
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Blackberry Mead

2013 Cherry Mead

2013 Cherry Mead

It is time to talk about another use for honey. In this case it’s a use for uncured nectar that would be unstable on a shelf. As many already know if honey isn’t cured to proper moisture content it will ferment. I have seen the results of high-moisture honey in bottles and it gets messy with all the bubbling, bursting, seeping, and sticky stuff everywhere. Common rule-of-thumb is that honey needs to be less than approximately 18% moisture to prevent fermentation.  There are methods of drying it down and at a later date I may go over that, but I’ve got other plans for this stuff.  Continue reading

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Science in Beekeeping?

Blog L L Langstroth

Langstroth

I grimace every time I see something on Facebook touting how Scientists and The USDA are working on Saving the Bees. I hope it doesn’t take the government as long to figure out Bee problems as it has to end poverty or wage the War on Drugs. As a beekeeper with a finite lifetime I cannot put my faith in that. Putting faith in someone else to make my bees survive doesn’t make sense to me. Is it not every beekeeper’s duty to scientifically contribute to beekeeping? I have seen many examples in forums and on Facebook Groups of self proclaimed “Scientific Beekeepers” making statements that Treatment-Free Beekeepers aren’t using Science.

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From Bees to Beets

Making spice mixture.

Making spice mixture.

Last weekend Holly and I canned some beets. ”What the heck does this have to do with bees?!?”

Well first off I LOVE PICKLED BEETS! It has everything to do with bees, because several years ago my wife converted from sugar to HONEY for beet canning and it improved the product immensely. I try to limit refined sugar intake as a part of my diet because I think it is every bit as bad for humans as it is for bees.  Continue reading

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Chump Crickets part 2

Field Cricket

Field Cricket

If you haven’t read Chump Crickets part 1 from last week yet that would be a good place to start. For the rest of ya here IS WHY I AM SO EXCITED about these crickets! This is promising news for people keeping treatment-free bees if they can stay the course, be patient, and allow bees and mother nature to do their work..

If this form of resistance just happened once I might be inclined to think that it was a fluke and bees couldn’t be as adaptive and resilient as a single lucky population of crickets with a single mutation. BUT IT is  WAY BETTER THAN THAT!!! The first time that this was documented was in 2006. The article from couple of months ago was NEW and reported that mute crickets had been found on yet ANOTHER Hawaiian Island 100km away from the first. Both populations of crickets have reportedly developed MUTE males THROUGH TOTALLY DIFFERENT mutations resulting in mute male crickets….. to combat the same parasite via a different mechanism…. This is an amazing example of convergent evolution. This is the main difference between humans and nature. We look for “A” cure for things while nature continues to explore for any and all methods of survival. Continue reading

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Fall Clean Up

Corn Crib Lean-To

Bees clean things first.

Like always post honey harvest equipment was in needed of attention. The first order of business was to get everything wet with honey / nectar residue dry. I freeze and store my extracted supers every year. This has presented a problem in the past because they must be dry before placing them into a plastic bag. The results of not doing so are moldy, fermented, stinking mess.  The drawn comb in honey supers is very valuable.  I like to have equipment close enough to monitor, yet far enough away from my hives that it doesn’t set off robbing Armageddon. Continue reading

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Honey and Walnuts

Materials

Materials

It hit me the other day, I’ve never talked about things I do with honey….. I gave a little bee talk a couple weeks ago to the Bath, Indiana Gardener’s Club. I got to talking about one of the ways I love to eat honey and have had a request for for the “Recipe”. If I’m going to type it out anyway I might as well post it. This is something I like to mix up from time to time. I have no formal culinary training, but I know this makes a great desert, snack, or breakfast. Continue reading

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