Feb 21

A New Bee Yard

Pictured below is my new bee yard.  Actually it’s not so new anymore and this post is a bit out of order as this picture was taken last April.  I was approached this spring by my wifes insurance agent for her business about placing some bees on his property.  It’s a beautiful location on a high (20-30′) bank above a river well outside of the floodplain with large groves of locust and catalpa within eyesight, as well as alfalfa fields planted by local farmers.  It will be interesting to compare how well these hives do, and their honey as the forage available here is considerably different than that available near my other apiaries.

Simply because it was easier, I started this yard completely with package bees and drawn foundation (and honey from deadouts).  They were installed this past Saturday as previously mentioned.   It also proved a good yard to test the effect of queen excluders on honey production, but more about that later…

Installing packages at a new yard

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/a-new-bee-yard/

Feb 20

Auglaize County Extension Bee School

Note: This class has been canceled because they did not get enough early registrations.  They are tentatively rescheduling it as an evening meeting in May.

On Saturday, April 19th, 2008.  The Auglaize County Extension office will be hosting a bee class.  Topics will include Spring Management; Disease & Pest Management; Pollen, Propolis, Wax and Other Hive Products; Queen Biology Management; Bee Hive Manipulation; Getting Yards & Bees; and more.

Speakers will include Dr. James E. Tew who is always a very interesting speaker, Mr. Tom Piper, Sherry Ferrell, Donald Steinke and Tim Arheit (me!)

Location: Auglaize County Administration Building; 209 South Blackhoof Street, Wapakoneta, Ohio 45895
When: 8:30AM – 3:30PM
Cost: $25 per person ($6 for students 17 and under)

For more information contact: Mr. John Smith, Auglaize County Extention Educator @ 419-738-2219

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/auglaize-county-extension-bee-school/

Feb 19

Worthless Legal Statements

I’m sure most people receiving email from companies, sooner or later receive one with a legal disclaimer or warning on the end of dire legal consequences if you use or even look at the email in the wrong way.  They go something like the following (names have been changed):

Attention: This e-mail message, including any attachment(s) (collectively the "e-mail"), has been sent by ACME Drinking Water and Porta-John Recycling Co. and may contain PRIVILEGED AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.  If you are not the intended recipient, then please (i) do not read this e-mail, (ii) do not forward, print, copy or otherwise disseminate this e-mail, (iii) notify us of the error by a reply to this e-mail and (iv) delete this e-mail from your computer.  Thank you.

This has to be one of the most worthless legal statements ever written.  The first problem is that this statement  is almost always found at the end of the email, and is sure to be read only after reading the contents of the email (i).  Nearly anything I do to the email will break (ii), deleting it will copy it to the deleted folder (iv), replying (iii) will copy it to the sent folder, not to mention the multiple copies made since I check email from multiple computers and the copy that remains on the server and in the ISP’s backups.  And let us not forget the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, it requires that email be backed up in public companies.  I’m also not sure if one could legally be bound to such a statement without agreeing to it first or a method of opting out before breaching the statement is available (as is often done with software licenses).

Of course, none of the statement is valid unless ‘you are not the intended recipient’.  Of course, since the email came to my inbox, and is stamped at the top with my email address, the only logical conclusion is that it was intended for me.  Other than the address, I can’t possibly guess what the actual intent of the sender was.  Even if the email says ‘Dear Anne’ at the top (obviously not me), the sender may be forwarding a message they thought I may be interested in.  How could I guess the ‘intent’ was anything other than for me to receive the email?

Personally I find every email I receive with such a statement rather humorous and I’m really tempted to forward every one I receive to the media (after all, as the intended recipient I can use it as I see fit).  But if you do business with any company that uses such a statement thinking it gives them any security or expectation of privacy, I would be worried.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/rants/worthless-legal-statements/

Feb 15

Beginning Beekeeping

Thinking about trying beekeeping this year?  Many organizations have already held beginning beekeeping classes this year, but it’s not to late to start. 

If you are really serious about starting this year you need to get your bees on order because they will be likely sold out if you wait until the weather gets good in April or May  (This will be sooner in southern states and later in the northernmost states and Canada).  Some package bee distributors will have a few extra on order, but those will get snatched up quick as the delivery date approaches.  Here in Ohio package bees typically arrive starting early April and Nucs (with Ohio Queens) can be available as soon as early May if the weather cooperates.  This means you’ll need to act in the next several weeks to reserve a package as orders get finalized with the producers in mid March. 

Even though you’ll need to order your bees very soon, you’ll still have some time to obtain any equipment you may need.  There also still are some beekeeping classes and meetings being held by local associations or you may find another beekeeper in your area to help you.  Some classes may be after your bees arrive, so be sure to study up enough to know what to do when they do arrive.  Many distributors of package bees would be happy to answer your questions on how to install and tend to them for the first few weeks.

Note: While I do sell both package bees and nucs, I highly recommend you buy them from someone close enough that you can pick them up.  This may mean a drive of several hours depending on your location, but the bees will be in far better shape than they would be if they were shipped though the mail.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/beginning-beekeeping/

Feb 10

When is Raw not Raw?

When the USDA gets involved of course.  The USDA has mandated that raw almonds grown in the US be pasteurized.  So by the common persons definition raw almonds aren’t.  At least they aren’t if they are grown in the US, the rule doesn’t apply to imported almonds.

Not to be outdone, Ohio is now considering making it illegal to label milk ‘rBHG free‘ or ‘artifical growth hormone-free’ using the argument that such labeling implies that the other stuff is bad and would be unfairly discriminating against those products originating from cows that aren’t enhanced (Lets ignore for a minute that the stuff is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and All 25 European Union countries.  I’m sure those countries just banned it for completely unjustified reasons – right, thats it).  So what is next?  Any other labeling that may imply another product isn’t as good?  ‘low-fat’, ‘sugar-free’, ‘cholesterol free’, ‘GMO free’, etc.  All imply the product in question is better (and the product without the label is therefore inferior).  It’s a very short step from banning ‘hormone-free’ to banning these and others like ‘local’ or  ‘raw’ which many customers look for in the honey they buy.  

So much for truth in advertising.   (We need to apply these rules to political candidates and their ads.  You can say anything you want as long as it in no way implies that you are better in any way than anyone else.) 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/rants/when-is-raw-not-raw/

Feb 07

Packages Bees or Nucs?

Its the time of year again when new beekeepers and hobbyist who have had a loss or want to expand, start thinking about ordering a package or a nuc.  More than once I’m asked ‘which should I get’?  Honestly I don’t have a good answer.  While one may have a distinct advantage over the other in areas that have an earlier nectar flow and little or no flowers available later in the year, In my area our flow tends to be later and in a typical year both may do equally as well.    So I’ll leave it up to you to decide which you’d like to try, or perhaps you’d like to try both and decide for yourself.  Below are my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of both to help (or maybe it will make the decision harder):

Package Bees: These are literally just that.  It’s a screened box full of bees, typically 2-3 pounds, and a queen.  You must provide the hive they will live in and food to get started.

  • Less expensive.
  • Doesn’t include brood or comb which is where many diseases are found.
  • Typically are imported from a warmer climate so could bring in outside diseases.
  • Don’t build up as quickly as nucs since they don’t have brood.
  • Typically are available earlier in the season so they get a head start on nucs.
  • Normally they are only available for a short period of time (April  into early May locally)
  • May require more feeding than nucs since they start with no resources.  Starting earlier in the season may also mean the bees can find less nectar and pollen.
  • May be shipped, though shipping though mail or UPS is very stressful and I’d recommend picking them up from someone who had them trucked into your area.
  • Often are more available since they are usually produced by large beekeepers in the south and west.
  • Far more time critical.  When delivered they should be picked up and installed as soon as possible.

Nucs: (Short for nucleus) .  This is basically a complete small hive with workers, queen, brood, comb, honey and pollen.  It usually consists of  4-5 frames (possibly more if it’s a medium frame nuc).  It will need place in a larger hive so it can grow but does have everything needed to get started.

  • More expensive, but do come with several frames and possibly a cardboard or wooden nuc box that could be reused later.
  • They do include brood and comb and are more likely to carry brood diseases.
  • Typically are purchased from local beekeepers so won’t bring in outside disease.
  • Build up more quickly than packages since they have brood in all stages of development.
  • Often aren’t available as early in the season, later if the queens for the nucs are also produced locally.
  • They are available over a much longer period of time  (May though July locally).  They may be purchased even later but may not have time to build up in time for winter.
  • May not require as much feeding as a nuc since they have drawn comb to start with, honey and pollen.  Plus starting later means that pollen and nectar may be more available.  You will still need to feed if you are not providing drawn comb in most cases.
  • They typically aren’t shipped.   I’ve seen shipping advertized for nucs, but haven’t heard many positive results on what shape they were in upon delivery.
  • Quantity may be limited because they are produced by smaller local beekeepers.  Larger beekeepers, typically in the south, do produce nucs, but they aren’t local for most of us.
  • They are far less time critical.  Pickup and installation into a full size hive can be delayed for some time without harming the hive.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/packages-bees-or-nucs/

Feb 06

Winter Weather?

I’m not really sure if Winter is here or not.  So far this year  we’ve had 0 degree weather followed by temperatures in the high 60s.  Then snow, temperatures in the teens and sustained 40-50 mile winds.  Followed by 50’s, thunderstorms and significant flooding.   And it looks like it will be snowing and in the single digits again this weekend.  Feels like we are on a roller coaster.

So how are the bees fairing in all this?  I still find it amazing they are able to cope with all this with no more protection than a drafty wooden box.   I was able to do a quick check when the temperatures hit 67 degrees in January and all 61 hives at the house were flying.  Only one showed signs of trouble, the tell tale marks of dysentery on the front of the hive.  It wasn’t unexpected, that particular hive wasn’t really thriving in the fall.   It’s cluster was far too small when I inspected it and it looks like it froze in the last cold spell since then.   You will always loose a few hives over the winter and I expect that one won’t be the only one.  Still, the hives looks far better than they did last year and I expect losses to be well within the normal range.  But we still have a month and a half until maples will bloom and nearly 2 months until April, so there is still plenty of time to worry.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/winter-weather/

Jan 30

OSU Rejects Funding for Beekeeping Research, Penn State and UC Davis receive $250,000

Haagen-Dazs announced this month at the National Beekeeping Conference announce a ‘vigorous and ambitious’ program supporting honey bees, honey bee research, and a plan to generate awareness of the plight of the honey bee.  This includes a donation of $250,000 to fund sustainable pollination and CCD research.  Any guesses who received this money?  It certainly wasn’t OSU since they’ve closed the Rothenbuhler Bee Lab.   The money instead went to Penn State and UC Davis, both of which are still doing research and are increasing their research efforts in recent years.  UC Davis is also where Sue Cobey now works after leaving OSU.

I guess it isn’t completely fair to say the Ohio State University rejected the funding.  I’m sure they weren’t even considered a recipient for the funding since they had already dumped the beekeeping program at the main campus and have seriously downsized the program at the Wooster campus.  And why would any give OSU money to research an area they have no program?  But it does make it even more unfathomable that OSU has decimated their beekeeping program just as the honey bee has gained national attention from the media, legislature and even corporate America including significant monetary contributions to research.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/osu-rejects-funding-for-beekeeping-research-penn-state-and-uc-davis-receive-250000/

Dec 16

Australia off the hook for IAPV?

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS), part of the USDA , has released results of their research of their detailed genetic screening of honey bee samples dating back to 2002.    They have found the Israeli acute paralysis virus (IAPV) has been in the US since at least 2002.  So it appears as though Australia off the hook and the suggestion from the original research suggesting IAPV was a cause of Colony Colapse Disorder is wrong.

Of course the argument was that IAPV didn’t come in with the Australian imports in 2005-2007 because bees have been imported into Canada for many years prior to that with no CCD issues.  So what do we know now?  Other than IAPV itself didn’t arrive by way of the imports into the States initially and that IAPV can exist without CCD, not much.   IAPV quite likely still has a connection to CCD, and IAPV still may have come from Australia, just by a different route, though on this second point I don’t think anyone has the samples to find out with any certainty and I really don’t think it matters.    Research on IAPV now is focusing on "understanding differences in virulence across different strains of IAPV and interactions with other stress factors".

I know everyone is in a rush for answers and solutions, but it really isn’t helping when the scientific community starts jumping to answers based on tidbits of information.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/australia-off-the-hook-for-iapv/

Dec 12

Honey Stick Machine – Part 4b – 4 to 8 decoder

4 to 8 Decoder for the Phidgets controllerOne of the challenges in the circuit design that I was worried about was obtaining the additional outputs I expect to need for the honey stick machine.  The Phidgets USB controller only has 8 outputs and while I could simply add a 2nd Phidgets module, I’d really rather avoid the extra expense in the final model.  I had proposed using a 4 to 8 decoder previously to add the extra outputs.  The good news is that the 74259 addressable 8 bit latch works quite well and replaces the entire circuit proposed.  The bad news is that the 4 outputs from the USB controller aren’t guaranteed to update at the same time.  This means that random signals can be generated on the output.  Not a good thing.

The solution? An edge detection circuit on all 4 inputs to generate a pulse any time the input changes, a delay timer to debounce the multiple pulses sent when the inputs change at different times and a 2nd timer to send the all clear to the 8 bit latch signaling that it’s ok to look at the input signals now that they are stable.  The Phidgets controller updates the output signals approximately every 8mS, so it’s quite possible that when multiple inputs are changed that the change will occur over two consecutive updates.  So if you wait and look at what signals changed over 12mS (1 1/2 update cycles), you should catch any output that occurs over two cycles.  Or at least that is the theory.

It’s been about 12 years since college and since I’ve done any circuit design and I really don’t have access to the oscilloscopes , etc. needed to see really what is happening with the signals in the circuit.  Though I’m  happy to say that something must have stuck after 4 years of college, the circuit works flawlessly.  As long as I limit the software to sending out signals every 16mS , I can selectively turn on and off each individual output using just 4 outputs from the Phidgets controller.  This does have the downside that it will be slower and only one  output can be addressed at a time,  but many of the outputs needed are not  so time sensitive  so this should work well for them.  Those that are time sensitive can be driven by the remaining 4 outputs of the Phidgets controller directly.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/honey-sticks/honey-stick-machine-part-4b-4-to-8-decoder/

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