Saturday, January 23, 2016

New year, new website, new blog!

-posted by Jayne

Hey guess what!?!  We have a completely new website over at  If you haven't seen it yet, please check it out and give me some feedback here.  We will now be able to post our blog directly from that site- so very soon when you visit it will direct you to the blog over at  We hope to retain each and every one of our readers who took the time to check in here.

I leave you now with a picture of our "Old Man Winter" candle.  Old man winter certainly blew in this weekend!
Thanks for checking in.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Winter Feeding

-Posted by Isaac

I don't think Jayne is catching my subtle hints about it being her turn.
Which, in truth, is fitting. When she does a post, she gets about a thousand more hits than I do. So I guess I really should be doing five posts to every one of hers. (That'll show you!)

So here I go again. This is going to be a quicky about what we've been up to since New Years.

But first things first. In the world of beekeeping this week, we had a local bring home BEST OF SHOW at the American Beekeeping Federation National Honey Show!

This is a really big deal.

Carmen Conrad. Once Again. As in, this is not the first time she's done this. (And I suspect husband Barry had a little involvement also.)
If you know the Conrads in Canal Winchester, be sure to say congratulations!

So here's what's going on at the bee farm of late. We've been making our way around checking. Yard to yard, hive to hive, checking bees, checking winter food stores, checking on hive ventilation.

Most are in good shape.

They look like the above hive. No bees in sight. The top frames are thick with honey and the cluster quietly waits out the winter below. They'll slowly eat their way up through all those calories.

But every now and then, we come across a hive like this:

The top gets popped off, and there they are!
In mid-April, a big booming cluster like this would be a welcome sight. Not so in January. This time of year it just means more mouths to feed.
This is also known as bad beekeeping.
This hive probably didn't have a queen excluder on during fall honey production, and we obviously took off a little too much honey. So they'll need some help.

We find the occasional hive needing help, we smoke the bees down, and we layer on the feed.

We also mark those hives. (That's important!)

I like to check on my babies. My hungry girls in need.
Yes, they do seem to like these winter patties.

You can see that putting the feed on thick requires a spacer. Which is fine. The bees don't build comb in the winter anyway, and a spacer can certainly be modified to help with ventilation. (Which is also important.)

We do this all winter.
In all weather.

Today, in a steady drizzle, I finished up the last yard for this round of feeding. This was the "Whitebarn" yard up in New Albany. Whitebarn Organics is a produce farm located on the fertile pastures belonging to one Les Wexner. (I know... I sometimes have to call security.)
Anyway, they needed a beekeeper, and as part of this deal I was allowed to buy the five hives that were already there. I now have 20 in this yard.
So I was making my way through, feeding and turning over the inner covers, and came across a familiar name.

Ha! My brush with beekeeping fame.

I later asked one of the Whitebarn workers, "So did you ever meet the beekeeper who was here before me?"
He paused thinking, "Umm, didn't really know him... some old grey-haired man from Wooster."

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Merry Humbug

-Posted by Isaac

Humbug, for the very reason that here I am, again, slaving away on another blog post. My lovely wife catches up on her holiday beauty sleep. As usual, I'm delegated to doing all the work around here. I, gentle reader, dutifully keep you up to date on the Honeyrun Christmas.
Sorry, no Christmas rant this year. In fact, it was an extraordinarily joyous holiday.

A week ago we had sunshine aplenty and the bees were abuzz.

For the bees, record high temps were a welcome change from the bitter years previous.

Christmas day turned out to be very horsy.


Maizy has, for years, been our horse expert. But this year little Eden and Mason took some equine interest.

Aunt Teresa and Uncle Dave tried to pawn this old guy off to the bee farm.

Bridger was having none of it. No horses for him.
In fact, he'd be very satisfied if we sold all the bees and bought him a few acres of corn.
Bridger is a farmer. And a farmer needs tools. A farmer needs equipment.

My brother Justin calls Bridger a "BTO." 
I asked what this meant. (Bachman-Turner Overdrive?)
Dumbfounded, he gave a wry smile, "Big Time Operator."
Oh. Of course. Everyone knows that.

Speaking of BTO's, Justin passed out his new farm t-shirts. 


With the expectation, I'm guessing, that we'd wear them to the farmers markets. Maybe put in a good word for the hard working American grain farmer.
Or possibly, like our shirts, it will serve as an eye catcher. Humoring, broadening interest, and appeasing his loyal customers- Cargill.  I don't know?

Wait a minute. What does that say?

On second thought, no, I don't think so. Upon rereading, I'm sensing some ulterior motives here-- he's trying to steal our customers!
This is one sneaky bit of advertising. It not only appeases Cargill. If you look closely, this crafty ad is really designed to catch more than his 99.6% of the food economy. No fair!
Here, let me show you-- it's just peppered with buzz words designed to catch unawares the potential consumer:

              BUZZ WORD                                CAPTURED AUDIENCE

               "Dry"                   -------------              Teetotalers
               "Run"                    ------------      Fitness buffs / Health nuts
               "Farms"                ------------             The Antiquated
                "LLC"                   -----------        Alphabet enthusiastists
               "High"                   ----------                  Tokers
               "Corn-Fed"            ---------               Nebraskans
    "Genetically Modified"  ---------     Activists / Politicians  (All of us!)
            "Sustainable"         ----------  The delusional / The mentally ill / Optimists
               "Not"                  ----------------               Pessimists

Can you believe it?! Get a load of these grain farmers! The nerve! A devious and underhanded play at our unsuspecting customers. I'm calling him out!
And what really makes me sad in all this-- it's you who gets hurt. YOU, the innocent bystander in the food war. YOU, now unsure. YOU, not knowing which way to turn for sustenance.
I'm so sorry. So sorry.

Well, moving on.
Our Christmas always involves a trip with Grandma and the gang. This year, among a few other things, we went to "The Works" in Newark. There we watched something fascinating- glass blowing.

Bridger and Eden paid close attention.

And learned a lot.

We've actually just returned from that trip. And the holiday continues. Tonight we say goodbye to 2015. Time to kick back and watch a ball game. Time to reminisce.

I hope your 2015 was as wonderful as ours. I try to think of some words of wisdom. Something encouraging as we encroach on the wilderness of 2016. And I'm having trouble. It's early.
But here are two positives right off the top of my head: 1. Not Dead.   2. Still have internet access.
So there's your springboard into the New Year! Good Luck. It's going to be a great one!

Monday, December 21, 2015

It Took a Beekeeper

-Posted by Isaac

In that Outer Banks blog post I mentioned that we visited the Wright Brothers Memorial, and our children didn't find it quite as interesting as I did.

I can't say I blame them. There were waves and sand dunes calling out.
Come and Play! Come and Play!
We spent several hours with the Wright Brothers. And I couldn't get enough.

When it came time for the speaker to give a 50 minute presentation, I sat our family in the front row. We had to see and hear every single detail about the Wright flyer.

Well, that lasted all of 90 seconds.
Eden was having candy/ binky/ doll baby troubles (loudly). And as we were shuffling her toward the door, Bridger tripped and fell flat on his face. Things at this point really got loud. And embarrassing. The family made it out after much commotion and I'm thankful and indebted to my lovely wife for taking the kids for the next hour. She could see how badly I wanted to hear that talk.
I scooted and excused my way back in while about a hundred people glared at me.
It was well worth it.

A week later I was reading David McCullough.

And loving it.
Such a monumental achievement. Flight. Flight! Think about it. And just over a hundred years ago. This is not ancient history. Two young bicycle mechanics from Dayton turned the world on its head. Ohio boys. There were plenty of others working on the problem. And plenty of naysayers. There happened to be aeronautical "experts" funded by the government and the Smithsonian and wealthy private backers. They couldn't quite figure it out. They all lacked something the Wrights had. What was it?

Wilber and Orville carried their large glider up this hill over a thousand times:

Three years of gliding. As Wilber said, "becoming intimate with the wind."
At some point they realized that flight was a real possibility. And still the naysayers trumpeted.

I love this:
..."In no way did any of this discourage or deter Wilbur and Orville Wright, any more than the fact that they had had no college education, no formal technical training, no experience working with anyone other than themselves, no friends in high places, no financial backers, no government subsidies, and little money of their own."

Working in relative obscurity, the Wrights overcame years of hardship and hundreds of failures. By the end of 1903 they had mounted an engine on their glider and were taking the first tentative steps toward powered flight. December 17th was the glorious day that it actually happened.

They needed the winds and dunes of Kitty Hawk to practice their gliding. North Carolina still lays claim to this world changing moment.

But back in Ohio, 1904, things really started rolling. The Wrights picked out a field just north of Dayton to perfect their flying machine. You'd think this would garner a lot of attention. I mean, it was sort of a big deal. But no... the Wrights didn't want or need the attention. They avoided it. Reporters didn't come out, nobody took pictures, and the stories that did make their way around were fabricated, inflated and unbelievable. On the whole, the Wrights and their "flying machine" were dismissed as a lie.
They didn't have YouTube in 1904.
So here's the surprising beekeeping connection. Rumors of this miracle flying machine did finally spread enough to tweak the interest of one A.I. Root in Medina OH. Anyone in the bee world knows who this guy is-- founder of the Root beekeeping supply company and Bee Culture magazine.
 Root was interested enough in the flying rumors to drive across the state to Dayton and see for himself. He was so amazed, he made the drive again a few months later. In 1904 this was no small task. Again, he was awestruck.
And he broke it to the world:

The bee world, that is.

Scientific American? Popular Science magazine? Smithsonian? Dayton Daily News? Washington Post? TIME? Newsweek?
Nope, nobody but Mr. A.I. Root with his little bee magazine thought that the achievement of human powered flight might just deserve a published mention.

Bee Culture Magazine was the first published account! Wow!

By the end of the decade of course, a few others had taken notice. The Wright brothers were famous celebrated inventors everywhere they went. Parades and accolades and prestige the world around.

Funny how it took a beekeeper to notice.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Leap of Faith and Bye Bye Power Plant

-Posted by Isaac

I got call from a guy named Noah Toumert a while back. He had a big project due for some kind of film class at OSU. He had found our website off a honey bottle and decided that a day in the life of a beekeeper may prove interesting. Noah had never seen a bee yard, or even a beehive for that matter. Nor had his classmate Emily, who came along to help get things rolling.
The following is the result.

(The project by the way, a semester grade, was due in two days.)

What do you think? Not bad? Maybe a little rough with the audio and some of the visual...
But off camera, an A++ for procrastination, crazy campus life stories and the general hilarity of Emily screaming and running.

Toward the end of the video, I can be seen folding up a "NO POWER PLANT" sign. I told you that we'd keep you updated on that, and I dropped the ball. So here's what happened: We Won!
NTE is moving on, looking for some other rural community to ruin. And it wasn't just Jayne's TV interview that did it.

 Although I'm sure the interview played a major roll in their billion dollar decision. Haha.

It was the general public outcry. An entire community standing up and saying NO!
And throwing things.

My brother Justin and his wife Adrienne need to be given most of the credit. They are the ones who blew the whistle. They ordered the signs. They started the Facebook page. They went door to door.
A couple of weeks ago Justin sent out a kind of congratulatory email. I'll cut and paste some of it here for you to read.

"...and I believe that they would not risk the company's reputation over forcing a site with so much public opposition.
We now have a blueprint for the other energy companies that my come our way. They do not like public awareness and opposition. They do not like the media exposure. And they do not like threats toward their family members."

Justin said he was "just kidding" about that last one.

But I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


-Posted by Isaac

Well, reading through Jayne's last post got me all fired up about Bayer.


The Bayer chemical company, tirelessly promoting pollinator health.

Heil Honeybee!

As she hinted, it's ironic that about the only thing we found concerning bees (among all that lovely agriculture propaganda) came from the very company doing the most to kill them.

I get asked occasionally, what ever became of my bee kill controversy and that whole neonic hubbub?

The controversy continues. Yes, I have put down the megaphone for a while, but the neonic war rages on. I still stand by my original view. The outlandish notion that an insecticide is harmful to insects. Even (gasp) non target insects.
No amount of "bee care" and pollinator health propaganda will negate the fact that Bayer kills a lot of insects.

Coincidentally my vexation with Bayer happened about the same time a friend and blog follower sent us this little report from NPR.

Here's the corresponding article if you care to read.

Enough of that, lets change directions.
Time to head to the beach.

Last week our family took a fun little trip to the Outer Banks.
And we actually did a decent job of documenting our fun. 

So we'll share some pics with you.

No, it wasn't all fun. Ten hour car rides with little kids can be... well, you know...

And children never seem to reap the same enjoyment from dining out, sampling the local palate.

This place bores me.

Nor do they find the local history quite as interesting or as educational as you do.

But when you set them free on the surf, there's nothing so beautiful as watching a kid race the waves.

Little Snoop had a ball.

"Gonna kick a little something for the G's."

"And make a few friends as I breeze through."

Speaking of breezing through, the wind and sun were constant. We learned why the Outer Banks were such a great spot for testing the first flying machines. Warm winds create big fat fluffy dunes for soft landings.

Wide open spaces, world's biggest sandbox.

It was off to the races.


And when we tired of sand, there was mini golf to keep the old skills sharp.

It was a wonderful five days. A nice little respite before the Christmas rush.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Congratulations Maggie! FFA National Champion!

-posted by Jayne
This post is in recognition of our employee Maggie Hovermale, who was recently awarded the FFA National Winner, Agricultural Processing, Entrepreneurship, 2015.  

Yeah, she's sort of a big deal.  :-)

On October 30th we traveled to Louisville, KY to watch Maggie prepare for her final presentation in competition for this national award.  While we were there, we got to walk around the entire FFA convention.  It's huge!   What does one find at an FFA convention, you ask?   T-shirts.  Lots of T-shirts with FFA logos and and agricultural promo items.

Blue jackets for miles and miles....

Blue jackets shopping for FFA T-shirts...

FFA t-shirts pledging love and support for the blue jacket....

Escalators filled with blue jackets from around the United States.  Manly FFA men doing push-ups in the lobby.

Isaac got up close and personal with a live snake from the Sea World exhibit.

Ohio FFA represents with a booth detailing the importance of Ohio agriculture.

Did you know the blue jacket is still manufactured in OHIO?

My favorite booth was the Wisconsin cheese sampling booth (pictured below).  I had the best coffee cheese I ever tasted.  Yes, it was cheese covered with coffee grounds.  Delicious!  I wish I had remembered to write down the brand.

We looked all over for the booth about HONEYBEES.  After all, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the USDA.

Ah, yes.  There they were.  At the Bayer Bee Care Center booth.  A bit ironic.  But I won't get into that now.   You can refresh your memory by looking at some of our old blog posts detailing how we feel about Bayer.    

For now, we'll just keep things light and happy.  Because we're proud of Maggie and her public-speaking skills.  We're proud of how she has represented Honeyrun Farm and Westfall FFA.  And she has earned a great honor.

You can catch Maggie this Saturday at the North Market Farmer's Market from 8-2.  Or, you can come see us at our first annual Holiday Open House, here at the farm from 9 am - 5 pm.  We'll have free cookies and hot cider, and lots of gifts available for purchase.  Hope you can come join us!