Monday, January 9, 2012

Good bee news! (for once)

Hello all you Jimily Farm followers!

After that dismal news of the honey bee I have some better news for you. As you may know from reading posts I not only warn of the disappearance of the honey bee but I also tend to them as well. This year I had planned to expand the apiary to pursue the production of mead. In case you don't know mead is fermented honey drink akin to wine, but older in history.

To that end I registered with some of the county Agricultural Extension offices as a beekeeper and someone willing to do removals. So far the couple of calls I have received have netted no bees but I was given a cordless drill after one of them so that's something I suppose.

The big news is that we were having some trees removed from our orchard and the tree removal guy is an arborist who is also concerned with bees and had lost his beekeeper guy some time ago due to him closing. So long story short I will be the new bee removal guy for this arborist. Sweet! Hopefully this will net me plenty of bees this coming season so I can progress with my other goals.

Oh and the whole reason we are removing some trees is due to them being Spanish Oaks which are notorious for falling down when they seemingly look healthy. These that are being removed however don't actually look all that healthy and threaten the fruit trees currently planted in the orchard as well as the garden shed that is there. Plus we have planned to put the expansion to the apiary there and any threats needed to be dealt with beforehand. As another piece of the puzzle we have germinated what must be more than 2 thousand flowering plant seeds which are happily growing in their little cups as I write this waiting to be planted in the ground to provide pollen and nectar to bees. It'll be pretty as well. :)

So fortune seems to be smiling upon us and the bees as this relationship with the arborist should prove beneficial to us, the bees and of course his crew of tree cutters who don't like to be stung. I just can't wait for March when bees really start getting into gear around here. Before then I need to prepare by building some hives. These hives will be different than the typical vertical ones you may have seen before. The typical ones are boxes stacked upon each other and are called Langstroth hives. These hives I intend to build are horizontal hives called Kenyan Top Bar Hives which are about 4 feet long and are used around the world and gaining popularity with beekeepers. They are cheaper to build, and purportedly easier for the beekeeper to take care of and easier on the bees as well. The 'top bar' part is the easier thing. The bar is where the comb is built that hangs downward in a semicircle shape. The beekeeper only has to remove one bar at a time to do inspections which is what makes it easier on both beekeeper and bee. It interrupts the bees less by not having to disassemble the hive, and not having to heft a 40-60lb box of bees to inspect them makes it easier for the beekeeper. It does have a slightly less productive quality than standard hives, but I have already transitioned into all 'Medium' boxes on my Langstroth hives anyway so the production would be the same for me and my current methods.

Here is a picture of a beekeeper working a Top Bar Hive

The other offshoot from having more bees is of course having more wax as well. With this I intend to make beeswax candles. From the wax I had saved in the freezer I made one votive and realized it will take a bunch more bees to make any sizable number of candles. Wish me luck here if you would.

Some would say it's all coming together, one step at a time. I have faith that it is.

Well that's it, I have to go wash some bottles to crush for other projects I have going on. Take care, and thanks for stopping by!



  1. i have a few things for you! one i work for SoZo and we have blue bottles for our products do you need more? two i was in Bandera last week and apparently i'll be there more often and would have a chance to stop by. third Hi! long time no see!

  2. Hey Amanda! Blue bottles? Why yes I could use blue bottles, blue glass is super rare :) But they are destined to be crushed into pieces though, at least some. The other half are part of another project I'm working on. Lemme know when you're coming out for sure! In April we will have many little baby goats to romp with as well. Third: heh yes being sequestered out here in the sticks makes it difficult to be seen. See ya!