Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Signs of the Apocalypse

-Posted by Isaac



Well, no, it's not so bad really. Pictured above is the worst yard so far. Three living, twelve dead. This was one that went into winter light on honey and got missed on the January round of feeding. But I also don't want to downplay it; it has been a horrible winter. I'm guessing our losses will be in the 60% range.
Can you find the dead queen? (She's marked.) (And dead.)
 Even the ants had it bad. I've been cutting firewood for over thirty years, and I can't remember finding so many dead colonies frozen stiff. Usually they're sluggish, but at least still alive.

If you read Sports Illustrated you know their little weekly blurb titled, "Signs of the Apocalypse." It's usually about some crazy-fool athlete, fan or coach doing or saying some crazy-fool thing.

Well, the end of the world is coming. (I assure you. It really is. If you can wait long enough.)
And the signs are everywhere.
Some of you who missed me at market this past weekend learned that I was in Florida having fun. And yes, I left poor Jayne, eight months pregnant, tending three young kids, walking barefoot and ragged through the snow... to sell honey in my absence. Was she covered in soot too? I guess she did mention picking up some extra work cleaning chimneys. Fine woman.
I brought her some shells.
Anyway, in my happy travels, I encountered some signs, some bad omens if you will, and I'm not exactly sure if the world is ending...  maybe you'll know.
Here are the crazy-fool happenings starting from day 1, the day before I left.

Day 1 - Dead Bees
I was able to make it to seven bee yards and the results I have already shared with you. Not Happy. Quite apocalyptic actually. And it wasn't an easy day. Most of the yards were inaccessible to even a 4WD so I had to hoof it carrying buckets of feed.

Day 2 - Six Hour Traffic Jam
We (my parents and sister Becky) fought a snowstorm almost all the way south, and just about the time we thought we were home free;

we came to a standstill in South Carolina. That was a new experience. Completely stopped for six hours! We took several long walks and engaged ourselves in some good southern conversation. I think I now realize why Duck Dynasty is so popular.
Moon rose, sun set, and we got rolling by nightfall.

"Thank you, sir. May I have another?"
 Why, yes, another catastrophe coming right up:

Day 3 - Semi Blows Up
Out of the snow and traveling fast, we saw smoke a couple miles ahead. Traffic slowed. But, we were still moving. For a while, without "the authorities" the line of cars continued to work their way around whatever it was up there.
Then the firetrucks appeared. We knew we were in trouble.

Sure enough, they stopped us. We were maybe thirty seconds from getting around, and everything came to a standstill. Again. Three hours this time.
At least we enjoyed a good show. Don't worry, nobody was hurt. Just a southern trucker having a little mishap. I think he was hauling Duck Dynasty t-shirts.

Day 4 - The Race
This was not the real reason for a Florida trip, but as always, I don't mind killing two birds...

Here was a kind of self inflicted apocalypse. Many of you know I like to run, but this was a 50 miler. I had never tried anything over a marathon. Oh boy...
Here's a shot from the woods about ten minutes before the 7 AM start:

Ah, spanish moss... so nice for those pre-race bathroom duties.
 Notice anything abnormal? For you northerners, I mean...
Sunshine? Shorts? Green grass? Blue sky?     What's that?

It actually turned out ok. Not so catastrophic after all.
Although the next morning I could've used a wheelchair.

25 down, 25 to go... Still not sure about this.

Day 5 - The Dead Sea
Ok, now I'm grasping at straws for this apocalypse theme...

But something was kind of weird on the beach where we stayed in the Panhandle.
Shells were washed up everywhere.

Buckets of them.

I've walked plenty of beaches and have never seen anything quite like it.
Even the people at our hotel, annual snowbirds, had never experienced this.
It's like an extinction event hit this tiny section of the Gulf of Mexico.

Big Wave! Look Out!
 Day Six -
Finally, something positive -- Live Bees!
Here was the real reason for heading south. I was looking for bees.
And I found them.

I know a Wisconsin commercial beekeeper who winters in the Panhandle, producing tupelo and gallberry honey. He also makes a lot of splits. I'm trying to become a beneficiary of all that splitting.
But that's a subject for a future blog post.

So back home again to the frozen north.

Frozen Tears

At least the sun came out today. And it warmed up. Maybe things will thaw out before spring... unless the end of the world comes first.

Photo: Alan Powdrill/Getty Images

Sunday, February 9, 2014

We've Gone International

-Posted by Isaac

A few months ago, Jon, store manager at Saraga International Grocery called and wanted some local honey.

My first thought was no, not worth it... we would be on the shelves next to dozens of honeys from all over the world. Customers wouldn't automatically pick Honeyrun just because it was local. It would move slow and we'd be dealing with granulation issues. Besides, I had never even heard of Saraga (I'm so worldly!)
Well, Jon still thought it would sell and he's a convincing guy. He talked me into it.
Turns out he was right:

C'on Jon, check the shelves!
After dropping off the second delivery I strolled the aisles looking for some Honeyrun honey. Nary a drop to be had! One measly 8oz Fall honey stood as lone sentinel in the local honey section. Apparently the international shopper still wants local.
I continued my aisle strolling.

It's a cool store. Check it out if you get a chance. Many things to pique your curiosity. Interesting, fun, different...
Have you ever tried jackfruit?

The store is sectioned off by continents and countries and every aisle holds a culinary multicultural treat. With the honey selling so well in the American aisle, I'm thinking maybe we should expand overseas with the bee business.  McDonalds... DuPont... Why not Honeyrun Farm?
I think I've previously confessed my unrequited desire for a chalet in the Swiss Alps:

Or how about a division in Tanzania? We'll keep bees in the shadows of Kilimanjaro:

Or maybe a morning coffee on the Great Wall before lighting the smoker:

Don't worry, we'll faithfully continue to provide you, our loyal locals with the highest quality honey from our world headquarters in Pickaway County. The Saturday market logistics may become more complicated, but I'm sure it's nothing a few private jets can't overcome.

If you start to feel overwhelmed with traveling wanderlust, you can always make your way back to the American aisle to find good ole burgers, fries and ice cream. They've even got a section devoted specifically to the Midwest:

Fully stocked in the American Aisle:  Sugar!

Our honey can be found right next to the Electric Kool-Aid Corn Syrup Chocolate Chunk Creamsicle Sugar Bombs.

Thanks for buying international.