Sunday, April 27, 2014

Earth Gathering 2014

-Posted by Isaac

After an exhausting week moving bees into the apple orchards (which you'll be sure to hear about soon), I had the pleasure of returning to the hills of beautiful Chillicothe.

The Earth Gathering festival has been an annual thing for some 15 years. It's a cool little art / music fest in Yoctangee park with an Earth Day, environmental awareness theme.

The folks here really love their honey. We've been making an annual pilgrimage for seven or eight years now. Short sleeves, blooming trees, smiles and music...
What a way to kick off the spring.

Great original music from local artists. (Jayne and I even had a gig one year!)

And the best gyros anywhere. I'm not exaggerating. Ali Babas serve up the tastiest I've ever had... of course I'm usually half starved by the time I get my hands on one.

This year, a heightened sense of localism was evident everywhere I turned.
This nice customer found her Chillicothe handbag in town at Totem Supply.

And artist Kelly Zalenski from Columbus set up set up next to me.
Kelly provided some entertaining conversation throughout the day.

Of course Jayne's Ohio candles sold well right along with the Ohio honey.

Yes, there was something "Ohio" for everyone...

It's hard not to love this festival. Perfect spot, perfect time of year.
Chillicothe is the gateway to the wild and wooly wilderness of southern Ohio. You could easily make a weekend of it. So if you haven't been, make a note on the calendar and come next year! Especially if you're a runner / biker / hiker / camper. Fun, fun...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Thine Bee The Glory

-Posted by Isaac

Thine be the glory

risen, conquering Son;

endless is the victory,

thou o'er death hast won;

angels in bright raiment

rolled the stone away,

 kept the folded grave clothes

where thy body lay.

We had a little Handel at Christmas, how about some Easter Handel!
If nothing else, this hymn presented a chance to use up some old pictures. Whether they make sense... I'll let you decide.

It's looking like like a beautiful day. Hope you find your chocolate bunny.
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Pollen Count Is High. Yay!

-Posted by Isaac

I just love this time of year.
And so do the kids-
(Look at the willows in the background nearing full glory!)

And the the other kids-

And I assume, judging by the hum in the willows, so do the bees.
Yesterday afternoon the tops of the willows were abuzz with the music of spring. It was the first day for these trees.

Loads of yellow pollen are being hauled into the hives.
Good food means more bees to come! These girls need to be ready to pollinate apples in three weeks.

The willows were preceded by the purple deadnettle.

The pollen from this awesome ground cover is blood red and seems to be just as well liked as willow pollen. 

The deadnettle is in ample supply this spring.
In the ditches:

And the fields. That is, until our farmer friends burn it down.
If we can just get a rain about every three days it will keep the sprayers and the Roundup at bay for awhile.

Speaking of rain and farmer friends, look at what what I did to Mr. Bigham's pasture this week:
Sorry Bighams. I'll fix it!
I was only delivering supers to the bee yards. Oops. Guess I misjudged the ground moisture.

Maybe we could use a little less rain.

Our home apiary has become a bustling holding yard with sixty five hives. These will all be moved into the apple orchards soon.

The cool thing about having this many bees around is that the minute some new spring pollen source becomes available, we know the good news.

Maizy braved the bees yesterday to come out and tell daddy about yet another miraculous spring surprise...

The daffodils!

Happy spring, everyone!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Global Warming, Less Climate Change Please.

-Posted by Isaac

I was just walking through the field with Bridger and my cousin Jed a few hours ago and stumbled upon this beauty:
What a way to make your day!
Did the maker of this arrowhead have climate worries? Bet not. Weather worries? Bet so.
But I'll also wager that they didn't complain about it nearly as much as I do. Even though, at times, it was probably a matter of life and death.

For me, this dreadful winter was just a matter of mild discomfort. Physically, mentally and financially.

For the bees, of course, it truly was life and death.
More death then life, unfortunately. 65% gone.

Much blame to be placed squarely on the incompetent beekeeper.

But you can always blame Climate Change, right?

The old timers in the bee club are saying it was the worst winter in 40 years. Most are saying it was the worst bee year ever because of the added stress of a poor summer honey flow.
This meant that March was filled with bee yard clean-ups. So many dead-outs.
Mr. Blair had his fill of dead bees.
 Like one last kick in the ribs, spring finally arrived (technically) and we've had snow the last two weekends. Huh??

Still, for beekeepers, hope springs eternal. The warmth has arrived, though fickle with wind and rain. I think we've seen our last frozen dead cluster. I've been feeding the living and dreaming of dandelions.

Throughout March there were still many pleasant surprises. So surprising in fact, I couldn't help but snap some photos of a few future boomers:

Future "Boomer"
We could definitely use a bit more of this.

And a lot less of this:
Dead. A should-a-been-boomer.
Blame it on the beekeeper.

In a few of the less fortunate bee yards the many lifeless brood boxes about filled the truck.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
The dead-outs went to the barn to await cleanup. (Which happens to be what we're doing now.)
It became a growing wall of death:

Not all doom and gloom.
The hives with young queens and plenty of honey stores were actually just fine.
Best yard- One dead:

Worst yard- One alive:

When I worked for the Morris Honey Company (2006), we took all the bees to the citrus in far southern California. This was after the almond bloom in February.  Wayne, my boss, liked to brag that he was the only beekeeper in the country who extracted honey beginning in March.
Well Wayne, eat your heart out:
Dad looks on in wide-eyed wonder.

So many of those dead hives were still heavy with fall honey. We ended up extracting around 600 lbs.

I know, I know, a good beekeeper would use this as feed for a strong spring startup.
Nah. Too valuable. We'll just hope for pleasant weather accompanied right on schedule by the lush rush of blooming trees and flowers.
Yeah right.