Posted by Rob Keller on February 09, 2013 at 07:29 PM in Airstream 67 Overlander, Bee Class, Bee Feral, Bee Fun, Bee Gear, Bee How To, Bee Meta, Bee Theory, Bee Think, Books, Clients, Hive Management, Mobile Bee Observatory, St. Helena Montessori Bee Class, Tips From the Hive - Nimbus Bee Blog, VW 61 Splitty | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
I know I have been over it a zillion times, but man, do I love the idea of letting my bees build their own comb. We don't have to go into it here, but it's super biodynamic to let the bees create wax and construct their hive. Gunther Hauk talked about it in his book, which I can't find my copy of right now, but you should really spend five and check it out -- it changed the way I'm managing my bees. I guess the main reason I'm embracing it is because fundamentally it's right for the bees. Why use foundation imprinted with a pre-determined cell size -- whether it's plastic or wax. Let the bees decide what cell size they want -- 4.9mm, 5.4mm, or whatever...quit trying to muscle them with your agenda. You know, I really can't stand people telling me what to do, why should I tell my bees what to do? Another reason I'm sold on foundation-less hive management is because if for any reason you need to cut a chunk of comb out of a frame it is like cutting butter. Don't get me wrong, I've heated a knife to red-hot with a torch, it will cauterize straight through plastic foundation, but there are easier ways to get a queen cell off a frame safely.
Last year I was working with my boy Serge on rearing queens using the Hopkins method. Most of mine failed but the one thing that was a major success was how easily I was able to access those day-old eggs by simply and effortlessly cutting only straightup comb, no foundation. Maybe next spring I'll go into it more, but don't trust me -- seems like some of these other guys like Serge, Randy Oliver, or Michael Bush are much better at it.
Here is the biggest reason I choose to let my bees build their own comb:
Keeping it real, I'm not a hater I just crush a lot.
Why is it every time I see bee hives that don't belong to me I'm drawn to them like a moth to a flame? Even if they're not my business, I can't help it. I should be MYOBB - Minding My Own Bee Business.
It's a sickness, I'm all-consumed by wanting to open them up and check out how the bees are doing; well that, and more importantly, how is the beekeeper managing the hive? I'm not talking about pulling a bunch of the frames, checking the brood and all, just a little peek at the top bars to see the size of the cluster. Okay, I lie, it's not past me to pull a frame or two especially if I have a hive tool handy, and in a pinch I've done it with a pocket knife too. It's bad, really bad. Don't hate me, I'm only thinking...why not? We're all in this together, no one should have anything to hide, right? Don't worry, I'll let you know I've been there. And sure, if you want to pop into one of my colonies, I'm all good. Just don't roll my queen. Truthfully I had never dreamt of opening someone else's hive, at least without asking, until that one day I ran into a small group of colonies off the side of the road while I was out riding bikes with the boys. Okay, so I'm the ring leader, but they're all beekeepers too, they know the drill. These particular green hives were pretty ghetto -- no inner covers, the top covers were all but falling apart, and all the boxes were straight up - jacked up - the whole nine-io -- nasty! What kind of beekeeper keeps their bees in those conditions? Why is it against the law to mistreat a dog or cat but a beekeeper can keep bees on old janky diseased gear with no regulations, right..? That's what I'm saying. My boy Jason Beeman said it best, "It's better to be a honeybee hero than a honeybee zero". Whoever owned these hives were plain negligent. That day we didn't open the hives, it was too cold and drizzling so we rode away...but only 'til the next sunny day. Yeah yeah yeah, so you're not down..? Just don't slip up off your bee path. Be a bee keeper not a bee haver. For all the bee ballers out there trying to do the right thing we're already looking at a long uphill battle, we don't need anymore obstacles from the beeks not up on their game.
Giving it the squeeze...
I am processing more and more of my honey through a little tabletop wine press. It kinda sucks cause, my God, it takes forever and my kitchen is perpetually sticky, but well worth it!
I'm over forcing my bees on foundation -- predetermined cell size is counterproductive to what the bees know and want to build themselves. Beeple < bee people > LET YOUR BEES BUILD THEIR OWN WAX for crying out loud.
As for filtering, all I use is a utensil consisting of a wire or plastic mesh held in a frame, used for straining solids from liquids, for separating coarser from finer particles, but not separating pollen from honey. Oh,I guess it is generally referred to as a sieve...!
Okay, if you don't believe me, check this out:
I know, I know, you're thinking "yeah-yeah-yeah - the busiest guy, right..." but really, the last few weeks and the next few weeks are going to be, and have been, complete bee mayhem. Toutsweet, Chez Panisse, Connolly Ranch, and the Heirloom Expo. I'm not sure if any of you out there attended the Open Restaurant event at BAM last weekend, if not, hurt yourselves 'cause you missed one hella celebration. In conjunction with Chez Panisse's 40th birthday and the unveiling of the Alice Waters portrait headed to the National Portrait Gallery, Open put on an amazing event at Berkeley Art Museum.
I feel completely humbled by all of the other vendors that were invited to participate in the celebration.
Everyone there was absolutely tight on what they did and I was utterly fascinated with them all. I didn't even get to every one of them, but the ones I saw blew me away. The Edible Schoolyard peeps were grinding wheat with a bike-powered grinder, Digger Bread was baking loaves of bread in tin cans, and Urban Gardens was pickling it up big time! It was hard for me to stay put pimping bees at our base camp with all the other great stuff going on. Thank goodness Michael, Jim Cummesky, and even Neighbor Dave were there to man the 0-hive.
We met bread baker Chris who I'm sure we'll hook-up with again someday. The tin can bread loafs they made were incredible, and not just because they used our honey in them! They told me they busted out over 200 loafs.
We were even invited to be in the procession that walked right by Alice after they unveiled her portrait. I was all caught up in the moment and I walked right past, but Michael was on her like veggie velcro.This is an image I made as we went over the walk-way.
I met the cobbler who made these amazing shoes out of pig skin. It had something to do with Werner Herzog living up to his promise that he would eat his shoe if Errol Morris ever completed the film Heavens Gates . I don't know a whole lot about what went down with the bet, but I do know a lot about Bubbling Well, the pet cemetary Morris made the documentary about. Ask me later...
Everyone was using my honey
I think that is Steve Sullivan from Acme Bread mixing our sweet amber love into his bread dough.
Awesome Stacey. The bees turned out to be a major ordeal for her, we originally wanted to have the mobile observatory down there, but opted for plan bee using the 0-hive from the trailer with the Splitty as a back drop.
Penn State researchers have found that viruses may be transferred via pollen. Makes sense to me that if both native and european pollinators are being affected by what we are calling CCD, we should be looking very closely at both pollen and nectar sources they share in common. It is time for all beekeepers to tighten our management straps a little and become aware of the potential diseases and pests we could be spreading in our day to day bee routine. Look at all those parasites, pests, bacterial diseases, fungal diseases, and viral diseases below, a lot of them I've never heard of before, let alone know if I'm spreading amongst my apiaries inadvertently. Yes, pollen could be the problem, but let's make sure we're not part of the problem too.
I felt so strongly about the issue I wrote this haiku:
Virus in the bees food source
Deadly flowers bloom
With that.... check this out:
One-being - an undividable entity
Wax and comb are the only visible substance in the Bien. The individual bees are something like a reflection of tissue of the one, thier honey like blood. Can it become a window to a different kind of understanding of life and the world as we know it? Can bees be so deeply ingrained in your body that the two become one? It may be opposite from the way we live our life in general but have you ever thought to invite the bees into your body, or at least your heart? Maybe all we can do to understand and communicate with the “Bien” is to stay open. See what happens when you read too much Steiner...
The next few Images are from a series of works I created to help Kana Niccolini understand the "Bien". He has been working on a report about drones for the St. Helena Montessori.
Super excited about this rain, although it's really putting me off my hive winter preparation. But hey, if it's any indication of the winter, we'll have a bumping spring for our bees. Just because it's raining doesn't mean you don't have to think about your bees. Start figuring out what you're going to plant around your yard or apiary to help contribute to the year round nectar & pollen sources you all ready have. I personally will be looking very closely at California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum). But for now here are a couple great book recommendations for this rainy day...
I have been revisiting a fabulous book Michael Theile (http://www.gaiabees.com) told me about a year or two ago. Michael has made me re-think a number of my beekeeping practices. I knew Buzz had to be good because he believes it to be the new Bee Bible, replacing The ABC XYZ of Beekeeping. Don't bee put off by the silly name, the pictures are amazing and the text left me dreaming about bees as I fell asleep reading in bed. Also when I went to order the book on Amazon Michael had written a raving review, the only reviw, but it was raving! I figure if he's behind a book enough to spend time writing the first review about it, it's gotta be good enough for me. And I'm convinced it's a good enough book for you. Few books really change to way I manage bees but between The Buzz about Bees and Gunther Hauk's Toward Saving the Bees I am a changed - more informed - beekeeper.
هل لديكم الكثير النحل تزدهر منك قراءة هذا الكتاب
May your many bees prosper from you reading this book.
Here's what Kim Flottum has to say about The Buzz - in English not Arabic. I definitely agree with him on this one!
This is a great read too. A little BD wooo-wooo, but he has a lot of information that just makes sense, although I am being told by my father-in-law that Biodynamics are a hoax and Rudolf Steiner was a complete nutcase, a flimflam man with a tremendous imagination, a combination if you will, of an LSD-dropping Timothy Leary with the showmanship of a P.T. Barnum. Hummmm, we'll have to get him to drop in here for a little guest blog sometime soon.
Check him at: http://biodynamicshoax.wordpress.com/
Here is another book that has been recently recommended to me by none other than our local cover crop cowboy Mark Griffin. In an e-mail he says "Rob, I just got a killer book called Honeybee Democracy, have you seen it? Bomb"! At the time I hadn't seen the book, but subsequently with a lil' help from the information super highway I found a link to Bee Culture's site where you can read Chapter 3. From the 10 page pdf the book looks really great, kind of a hybrid... with the knowledge in The Buzz and the real life experience I've read in the books of Sue Hubbell. Honeybee Democracy looks like it's well worth the cover price and it appears you can order it from Princeton University Press where you can catch a read of chapter 1. So between Bee Culture and the publisher's site all you'll need to come up with are the Prologue, Chapters 2, 4 thru 8 and the Epilogue -http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9267.html
As a quick side note speaking of Bee Culture, I'd highly recommend you all sign up for Kim Flottum's Catch the Buzz. To get you the very latest information from the world of beekeeping and all the things we touch as fast as possible, Catch The Buzz.
Sign up here: http://www.beeculture.com/content/catch_buzz.cfm
Although last time I tried to subscribe it didn't take, I've been ripping off the link every time I see it posted on the Sonoma Beekeepers Yahoo group. Ettamarie Peterson is the best for disseminating information.
Till the next rainy day.... feel the democracy and catch the buzz.
Just goes to show that when varied pollen sources call, the bees listen. Eric Mussen was all up on that theory ages ago.
Then read Randy Oliver's Fat Bee articles:
Makes sense to me........
Pollen source - In my area Black Berry is one the last pollen sources of the year , and the saving grace for our bees. In years past Black Berry has gotten us out of many a sticky sitch during severe nectar/pollen dearths. It's very easily identified by the gray nondescript color.