BeeBlog

September 10, 2017. My-oh-my time flies when you’re having fun. Maybe I should try spending a little more time on my web page….thisis the first post I’ve had in about a year. Oh well.

This spring I was happy to report that ALL of my beehives made it through the winter! This is remarkable 100% survival right through the winter. As usual I made a bunch of splits in Spring, about 50 or so, but I think next year I’m not going to do so many. It’s just really a lot of work. I have to add that last summer I treated the bees with oxalic acid. I figure it was basically an organic treatment, and so why not. That might have been something to do with a zero loss thing in the winter which hasn’t happened to me very much; I usually lose at least a couple.

But now here is my justification for treating bees with a non-toxic miticide, in detail:  I really believe there are more feral bees around me than there are kept bees. By feral I simply mean bees that are in trees and so forth and not taken care of by humans. I don’t think this is a false assumption given that I’m surrounded by thousands of acres of woods. I have seen bee trees myself not far from the house on two or three occasions. So if you accept that assumption,  then it also follows that every year when my bees swarm they are going to be bred with predominantly feral drones. Because feral bee hives are not taken care of by man, if they make it through the winter at all in a healthy manner they are statistically at least somewhat more likely to be mite resistant. Now I’m not saying that they are completely mite resistant, but they will be on the average slightly more resistant simply by virtue of them having survived at all. Therefore, every year that goes by, my bees will be bred with progressively more and more resistant drones no matter what I do with my own bees in my beeyard. I can’t stop it, because I can’t control the mating of my Queens by these drones. What I’m saying is this: my bees are going to become more and more mite resistant as time goes on, no matter what I do with my small little bunch here. So, why not knock down the parasites a little, if the treatment doesnt put nasty chemicals into the hive?

At this point i am almost glad i had to disable comments ( I was forced to because I was being attacked by spambots and getting a thousands of dubious “posts” a month)…because i know how controversial beeks are. But anyway, there it is.

So, harvested Honey about 2 weeks ago and averaged about 40 pounds of Hive as usual really good honey. Bees looking really fine. Had kind of a hard time keeping up with the bees this year because I was building a pretty large solar project with my brother-in-law. We put in a 12000 watt system for a man in Muskogee. No more electric bill for him!

 

Friday the 13th….such a great day to report the latest news.

NASA reports that on 8:53 p.m. GMT a meteor approximately the size of Maine struck the earth and destroyed the entire planet and all life on it. some of our more fundamental Christian Brothers are rejoicing because this means that the return of Christ is extremely imminent although the venue will have to be changed to Mars.

The most Reverend Mr. Hagee could not be reached for comment. he was last seen partying hard with Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, just before the meteor struck. Apparently the reason for the festivities was connected with the imminent mass destruction of all the Palestinians.

In other news: Lloyd Ziegler, a local beekeeper, reported that on January 11th of this year all fifty of his beehives were alive and well, an extremely auspicious observation. Mr. Ziegler commented that if all 50 hives survive Winter, it would be extremely unusual in this era of 50% plus losses. He remarked “It is well to remember that wild bee hives normally have a very low rate of survival; first-year swarms generally have less than a 50% survival rate when left on their own.”

(Editor’s note: Mr. Ziegler is a somewhat eccentric but charming individual who lines the entrance to his driveway with semi-Africanized beehives, so that would-be visitors must run a terrifying gamut. He states that the bees can smell those people who, as he says, “aren’t right”. Mr. Ziegler prefers the title “the Bee Messiah” but acknowledges he has been called other things.)

 

 

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(Latest addition to the family, Noah)

Dec 13, 2016.  there has been so much going on in the past year that I don’t know where to start. one interesting thing is that my son wren and his wife Saji have moved out onto my property and build a big Yurt that they are now living in. They also have a new addition to the family, Noah, so now I get to babysit Shenandoah and Noah a lot! Well, mostly Shenandoah…I have to post a bunch of pictures of the Yurt one of these days it is really cool. I don’t know if I mention that my  brother in law”s brother Kim is also living out here and thats working out really well. With all the solar panels I put up we are all runninng on pretty much free power!  needless to say I am completely sold on solar energy. all that solar-powered just runs right into the meter and makes it run backwards…..truly a wonderful sight.

Bathrobe at poppa's.

Bathtime at poppa’s

(Shenandoah taking a bath at poppa’s )

how about them bees ….they’ve been doing really well, I think I sold about 60 or 70 splits last spring and was hoping to actually downsize, because there were so many bees here at one point there was well over a hundred hives, which is a little bit much for me at this time. But they’re doing really well and I figure I’ll probably try to make about forty or fity splits. I usually end up with too many though. Not a whole lot to report except for it seems as if there’s a lot of these summer swarms taking place and it appear as if they’re more Insidious than one might think! Beekeepers sll over Oklahoma have been reporting on this….apparently a lot of these summer swarms are actually invasive swarms that go into existing hives and essentially requeen them with their own queen; a new development. I myself suspect it’s from the African Gene component that we have in most of our Oklahoma hives these days. not to say this is really a bad thing; most Oklahoma beekeepers are reporting that these  hives are not really mean at all and seem to have excellent survivability compared to other strains of bees. there is really no point in trying to get rid of it anyway because even if you get a purebred queen, the first time your bees swarm, bingo!…. you got the oklahoma genetics!

Another thing worth reporting is that there seems to have been abnormally high losses this year.  People are reporting almost 50% losses so far. there was a tremendous amount of parasitic behavior in hives this summer,  lots of Hive beetles and  large numbers of varroa mites and the accompanying viruses. I hope for the best but I suspect this winter will be rough on Oklahoma beekeepers. I haven’t had losses so far, thankfully. Actually, I was surprised at the size of the honey crop this year, about a 50 pound per Hive surplus….I was surprised because the river flowers got flooded out this year, and that’s usually my biggest source of nectar. They found a some other sources and did great!

 

 

January 23, 2015. I have been feeding the bees Mann lake UltraBee for the last few days. It is a pollen substitute… I would not recommended for most people who have just a few hives but when you have 65 in one spot like I do there is sometimes a Pollen dearth in the winter. They really go crazy over it check out the pic!image

Jan 16, 2015… The weather has been really great lately it was probably 65 today. And Man, the bees were getting with it ! I checked all some of the 70 hives out and there were bees flying in and out on every single one… What a relief after all this cold weather I was a little worried. There was one actually that didn’t have much activity; I pop the lid on it and there were a few bees at the top of the second box, but I didn’t dig any deeper.
Jan 13, 2015. Pesticides !! Really interesting speaker at the meeting last night for Neoba. A PhD in entomology, he talked about Neonicotinoids, which are the pesticides most people use commercially these days. What I took away from his detailed discussion was that the new insecticides are so much better than the old ones in so many ways that they don’t want to get rid of them even though they are pretty sure they are killing the bees. By better he meant for example that they are much less poisonous to non-target creatures such as mammals. Humanity has got itself into a bind: we have become dependent on pesticides to create huge crops, and if we stop using them, there won’t be enough food for all the huge population that has resulted from a large food supply due in part to pesticides. The more food the more people…. A truly vicious circle.
Jan 12. So many people called asking for a “starter hive” that I am booked up solid already–overbooked, really. Apparently beekeeping is becoming more and more popular. Hey, I was a beek before being a beek was cool! And this new trend toward self-sufficiency and nature is GREAT! I can sure remember when people thought being a beekeeper was a definite sign of insanity.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      <a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/+LloydZiegleroklahomabeekeeping/about                        (sorry about that…the code above should link my google+account, or so they say….)

Jan 11. The weather has been really pretty chilly for quite a while. I was amazed to see the bees actually flying around on the sixth, it was nearly freezing out! Must have some Eskimo bee genetics in there.

I hope people have left their hives plenty of honey, it looks like it might be a pretty rough winter. There is a lot of discussion about using candy boards and feeding bees. By far in my opinion the best way to go is leave them plenty of honey in the Fall. And the only way to do this is leave them plenty when you harvest honey in June or July! You never know what kind of Fall we will have, and I never count on a crop at that time. I always leave them about 50 pounds after the harvest.

I had to take my recommendation for Gary Breisch off the site. I just can’t recommend him anymore. But I have to say that the health food store in Stillwater, “natures supply”, is one of the best stores I have ever been in. They actually really check out their suppliers, unlike the big chain health-food stores. They actually called me up to find out if another beekeeper was really legitimate! (He was)(postscript: new ownership at Natures Supply…). I am really glad of this because there are so many people out there masquerading as local honey product producers, I would say the vast majority I do not produce much at all! I mean let’s get real here: how do you supply the community with honey and pollen when you have five or 10 hives? It should be obvious to people that there is something wrong with the picture but amazingly they just don’t see it!  This seems to be true in many areas besides bee products, unfortunately. People believe so many things that they are told without researching them out, and it causes problems on a global scale. I have found myself fighting a battle against people recommending all kinds of crazy ways to take care of bees they heard about on the Internet, and therefore are certain that true. And new beekeeers don’t know the difference between some untested crazy idea and something that has been tried and is true; And they end up losing their bees.

And that’s just in the area of beekeeping… Don’t even ask me about world politics!!!

Jan 8 2015. I change the settings to allow comments. Up till now I have blocked them because I had such a problem with my last webpage that I had to close it… Robots were sending all kinds of spam just thousands of thousands of links. I hope WordPress will be better as stopping that. So please feel free to comment !!

Jan 8, 2015. Man Time really flies … There is been so much going on I don’t know where to start. As far as the bees ago I know I have about 70 hives. Put an ad in craigslist for divides and got booked up so quick it wasn’t funny! So I think my son Wren and his wife Saji will be helping this Spring. And of course most importantly I am now a grandpa…. Saji’s new baby girl Shenandoah is a real delight. And guess what grandpa hasn’t had to change a diaper yet!

So the bees seem to be doing pretty well. I could get really big here really fast but I’m not sure if I really want to. I think I’m going to stay with the small is beautiful concept.

Nov 5, 2013. The bees have been pretty inactive with the cooler weather. Rebecca Layman came by Sunday, and I collected about 30 bees from each of 3 hives….she is doing a project to determine if there is any difference in the immune systems of bees that have a screened bottom board vs those that don’t.

I am seriously considering increasing the number of hives I have here to try and keep up with the demand for new hives, pollen, and honey. Every year I sell out too fast, and disappoint people. One thing for sure, I will try to produce  LOT more wildflower pollen! Could not even begin to meet the demand last year. As for honey, I produced a small crop this year (about 1200 pounds) and am already almost sold out.

Last week, made up some really nice skin and lip balms, in Lemongrass, Mint, and Plain scents. The mint especially is wonderful. The propolis extract is also really selling like crazy!

Nice rainy day today, time to relax!

The American Bee Journal printed my “letter to the Editor” this month, he liked it…. and asked for more. Here is the letter:

 

Let me tell you ’bout the Bears and the Bees (and the flowers and the trees)

Way back in the 70’s I lived in the Ozark National Forest like Mr. Natural. Outhouse, wood stove, water running into the kitchen sink from a spring up the hill. Lots of time, little money, and enough natural beauty to make your heart tremble. Me, and my wife, four kids, and a permanent guest from the rainbow family who showed up and never left. And Bees. Lots of bees.

It was a fine life, providing you loved hard work, low pay, and the forest. Being younger, the first didn’t bother me. Being idealistic, no money wasn’t a big problem. I mean, Jesus had no cash, right? And the forest…ahhh. The forest was right up there at the feet of God in my book. My temple.

Unfortunately, the temple had a few full time residents which at first seemed merely unique and colorful, but turned out to be a real hassle. One of these was Black Bears.

To be fair, it wasn’t the bear’s fault that they were such a pain. Bears had been all but eradicated from the Ozarks in the past. Why? Because the people found them to be, as I said, a pain. But not just an ache, or a brief twinge of discomfort. No, we are not talking no downstream pain here, but rather a fullblown, raging, agonizing pain. How, you ask? What could be more innocent than a black bear in the woods? Ask that after he rips off your screen door, destroys the kitchen and all edibles, opens the fridge, and drinks all your beer. Pretty funny, eh? Ha. Ha. Oh, and did I mention? Bears like honey.

So, the people in the past 80 years or so got rid of most of the bears.

Enter the U.S. Forest Service. To the USFS, not having lots of bears was somehow painful in itself. So, they introduced lots of bears to the forest.

At first Mr. Natural thought bears were really pretty cool, man. Like they do their thing in the woods, and it’s all cool. Our brothers. Then one day about 20 beehives, loaded with honey, get methodically WASTED, I mean trashed, dude. Stunned disbelief. Confusion. My brother? Did This? Let’s smoke one and think this out, man.

So the very next day I was wandering down the path to the outhouse, thinking this out, when this huge black hairy bulk came to my attention, right in front of the outhouse.  WAH!  It took about 2 seconds for disbelief to morph into indignation, which grew with amazing speed into anger, which manifested into me running back to the house yelling “get the shotgun!”

How quickly the fall from grace.

Well, the gun in question was an old single shot model. I stuffed a shell into it, ran back to the outhouse, and was met by the bear, who had apparently had enough of this crap and reared up on his hind legs at me. In a rage over my bees, I aimed the gun in his general direction and fired. He lunged at me as I tried in vain to eject the shell, which was stuck. I can remember my exact thoughts as he came at me. They were “Oh ****””.  Then, just a few feet from me, he spun around and ran the other way! I know we are to be thankful for whatever comes our way, and suddenly my thoughts reflected this belief as I said, “Thank you Lord!” most fervently. Isn’t it funny how circumstances can alter our beliefs and actions? Anyway, the question was, What Happened?

We tracked the bear into a deep thicket a few hundred yards away. He lay dead. To make a long story short, we ate him. He was very large, maybe 600 pounds. I don’t really know exactly but I do know we used a tractor to hoist him up to clean him and he was HEAVY. And when we cleaned him, we saw that the slug had passed directly through his heart. To this day I consider that if not for that lucky unaimed shot, the one being eaten that day would have been me.

I am not a hunter, and I hated the whole affair. But I will say that Brutus there fed a family of 7 people for one entire winter.

Nov. 9.   Warm today, a lot of “play flights” in front of my hives, where all the bees that have never been outside the hive get together in a sort of School, and do  a kind of flying dance in front of the hive to get their bearings. There are still some flowers out there blooming; the bees were visiting the wild arubila over at Rob’s.

Working on Ace Bee and Wasp Control, acebeeandwaspcontrol.com ….hope to rescue a bunch of beehives next year (and get paid for it!).

Jan 16, 2014.  Well, I have already booked solid for beehives in the Spring. I guess the word has gotten around: local bees, from wild swarms, etc, are SURVIVORS. They live. Now everyone wants them! So far, out of 38 hives here at Mannford, I have lost ONE. And, believe it or not, that ONE was the only hive that had an imported queen……

I have been feeding the bees pollen substitute to give them an early start, so I can make divides earlier. Man, they really love that Mann Lake “UltraBee”.  They much prefer it over brewers yeast.

 


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