Apr 01

April Has Arrived.

It looks like the long warm spell of March is over.  We should be starting our first grafts this coming week and the weather forecast only predicts one day that even reaches 70 degrees.  A big change from the last few weeks where nearly every day was in the 70′s.

With the use of an incubator to keep the brood warm, I probably will start grafting early this week, but what is of bigger concern is the extended forecast. Accuweather.com puts it in the 50′s to low 60′s through April 25th currently which may make it a real challenge to populate the mating nucs in a couple weeks when the queen cells are ready, and even a bigger challenge for queens to mate.

The hives are raising plenty of drones however, so we’ll start and cross our fingers.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/april-has-arrived/

Mar 22

First Spring Inspections

It’s hard to tell by the calendar that it is only March.  For the past 2 weeks we have had weather consistently in the 70′s to mid 80′s and mostly sunny.   This would be the norm for late May or even June.  Needless the to say the bees are very, very active and have plenty of flowers to forage on.   Blooms are easily running 3-4 weeks ahead of schedule.  Maples bloomed in late February and the tree to the right (a pear, picture taken March 21st) bloomed April 24th in 2009.  It’s the same tree that is showing in this post.

The good news….  The bees are in great shape.   Pollen patties went in last week.   I really didn’t need them this year, but they were already made up so I went ahead and put them on anyways.   A few hives are a bit light, but overall they are looking good and loss currently stands at around 5%.

The bad news…. ticks are already out, so are flies, mosquitoes (pests for the beekeeper not the bees), and small hive beetles look to be as strong as I normally see in fall already in some hives.   Normally this hasn’t been a concern in our area, but we will have to keep a close eye on them.   It’s quite possible we’ll have to do something about them this year.

So what does this mean?   The weather and the bees are telling me I should be out grafting and getting ready to split hives (I see a heavy swarm season this year).  But the calendar tells me the my earliest graft should be nearly 2 weeks away, and 3-4 weeks until I start splitting hives for mating nucs.  For now I’m waiting because I’m worried this weather will pass and if we have a normal April mating could be a problem if I start too soon.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/first-spring-inspections/

Mar 11

New Building – Framing

Just as the concrete was finished and our builders were ready to start with the framing, it started raining.   We sorely needed the rain because the honey harvest we poor and the golden rod and aster was the last chance to top off the  the honey supers for winter.

The builders used the time to pre-cut much of the wood off site so when it finally stopped raining, the walls started going up pretty quickly.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/journal/new-building-framing/

Mar 06

New Building – Credit and Funding

Before I get too far into the building saga.   I should give a hats off (which is saying a lot coming from a beekeeper) to Farm Credit Services.   Without their help we could never have started this building project.
We had attempted for a couple years to get a business loan, SBA loan, personal loan or anything we could do to get the funds to make it happen.  And while every bank we went to liked our credit scores, the significant amount we had to put down, and saw that the business could pay for the loan (I do have a full time job as well), none wanted to do anything more than refinance our home.   Even the banks that claimed they specialized or were the biggest SBA lender in Ohio gave us the same song and dance.  We had all but given up and though we would have to simply save up the money for the next many years before we could start.

But after reading an ad in the Farm Bureau newsletter,  I looked up Farm Credit Services.  They only work with farmers, but we qualified based on our beekeeping.  I contacted our local office in Delphos, took in the paperwork I had given to all the previous lenders (literally everything they would ever need), and in 2 days I received a call telling me I was approved and to let them know when we had started building and when I wanted the check.  Not only was I approved, but it was the easiest loan process I’ve ever been involved with (that’s including 2 home purchases and several refinances).  It was also much cheaper than a refinance and the interest rate was far less that what I was previously quoted for a business loan.

So thank you Farm Credit Services.  You have made this project possible.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/rants/new-building-credit-and-funding/

Mar 03

New Building – Foundation

Our contractors started digging the footer for our new storage building in August.  That part went smoothly.   Their backhoe that was much bigger than our small Kubota BX22 made short work of the remains of the one tree stump we just couldn’t remove.  We had been chipping away at it for nearly a week with chain saws, axes, pick axes, shoves and the Kubota.  We did manage to get 2/3rds of it out, but it was once a huge tree and was going to be in the corner of the new building.

The concrete contractors moved in to start the walls and floor much quicker than I had anticipated.  I was planning on having a week or so to install drainage and dust collection pipes under the floor for future use but that didn’t happen.  Fortunately my small Kubota was able to ‘hop’ the foundation with wooden ramps and I installed what I needed to while the walls cured, just in time for the floor.   Still I missed the Allen County Fair completely this year to get my part of the job done.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/journal/new-building-foundation/

Feb 29

February 29th – 69F and Sunny

The weather forecast was calling for rain, but it cleared out early and the day was warm, humid and sunny with a light breeze.   The bees were very, very active.   Unlike yesterday, the bees were virtually ignoring the dry pollen substitute I had put out for them.   A quick inspection of the activity told me why, they were gathering real pollen from somewhere.  I was a bit surprised because the silver maple outside my door was not yet blooming.

Later in the day, activity at the pollen substitute had increased somewhat, but was not the thick cloud they would have been if no real pollen was available.   I though the picture below was pretty cool as it caught most bees in flight as they had just flew up in response to my breath while I was taking the picture:

The source of most the the real pollen, probably a few maple trees that had started blooming.   I did find one on my property that was humming, but not all of them.  I’m hoping the others hold out till we have another warm day next week.   This is the earliest I recall silver maples blooming in recent memory.  In past years it has been mid to late March when the maples bloom.  Normally I start putting pollen patties in the hives the first week of March, a week or two before the maples begin to bloom.

 

Nearly every hive in my yard had activity today,  Including most of the nucs I am attempting to overwinter this year.   I put most of them in groups of 4 to help provide a windbreak for each other.  It will be interesting to see which ones did well when it gets a bit closer to spring.

Still, activity at the hive was not always a good sign.  This following hive had a lot of activity.  But it had no pollen gathering and the activity was more frantic and disorganized.  It also had the waxy residue near the top fo the white box that is a sign of robbing.  I’m not 100% certain, but my experience tells me this particular hive didn’t make it and had a lot of unprotected honey.

I’m not sure what this incredibly early start means for the bee season this year.  It looks quite promising with a lot of live hives.   But it’s still very early and we’ve been fooled before.   At this point I’m most worried about starvation.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/february-29th-69f-and-sunny/

Feb 25

Old Barn Cleanup

We were able to clean up most of the wood on the barn in the fall.   The foundation took a lot longer.  In part because bee season had started,  but also because of the weight and amount of the flagstone and brick foundation and concrete floor.   The good news was that there was no reinforcing steel and years of groundhogs living under the floor left much of it cracked and broken.   Still it was fairly week concrete and the larger pieces quickly yielded to the sledge hammer

The yard doesn’t look the same without the old barn.   I rather miss is and the old shade tree that was on the south side of the barn that came down several years prior.  The picture below is taken from the 54 foot hill (or reservoir) the city of Lima built across the road from the old barn.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/journal/old-barn-cleanup/

Feb 15

New Products – The Ultimate Hive Stand

Honey Run Apiaries now carries The Ultimate Hive Stand.  With snow on the ground today we haven’t had a chance to try it ourselves, but it looks like a well though out stand.  It’s lighter than the concrete blocks, and more rot resistant than the old pallets we  tend to use.  It’s easy to assemble and gets the hive off the cold wet ground.   It’s available for standard 10 frame, 8 frame and beemax size hived and has an optional frame rest built in.

In addition to looking great and the long list of features and benefits the manufacturer claims, I’m betting it will help with skunks by making them bare their underbelly and should be easy to trim around with the weed wacker.  It’s perfect for the hobbyist with a few hives in their garden.  I’m looking forward to the warm weather and trying it on our queen cell builders.  The extra height should make them easier on the back to work with.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/beekeeping/new-products-the-ultimate-hive-stand/

Feb 12

End Of An Era

What goes up must come down. I hated to see the old barn come down. We had advertised the barn for sale for more than a year with no real interest at any price.  Even at $500 or best offer. (See the link for pictures before the tear down)

So it came time to take it down ourselves.  Even after cutting all the cross braces it proved too much for my little Kubota tractor and nearly proved to be too much for the neighboring farmer’s tractor.  At one point it was standing only by 6 posts and still wouldn’t fall.  But our persistence won out and with one final crack it came crashing down.   It was amazing how strong the structure still was.   On the other hand we found many completely rotted sections of posts and beams confirming that we really had to take it down and repair was not a viable option.

It wasn’t a complete loss though.  We were able to sell the slate to a company out of Columbus and salvaged the aluminum siding from the south side and heavy copper wire from the grounding rods.  Made nearly $500.   Also gave away whatever anyone wanted to haul off, beams, siding, etc.  At this point we still had a lot of work to remove all the debris from the site.

[Note: This post is from the fall of 2010.  It's also been one reason I've been behind on my posts.]

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/journal/end-of-an-era/

Feb 10

Vanity 800 Numbers – A thing of the past?

Lately I’ve encountered a number of companies advertising only their 800 toll free number (800, 855, 888, etc.).  Numbers like 800-BUY-BEES, 800-GOT-HONY.   While these numbers may be easy to remember or even catchy they could be frustrating your potential customers.   I know they are frustrating me, particularly when the vanity number is the only number you see on the advertisements.

Why?   Every try to dial one on a smart phone?  The letters on the phone don’t match up to the actual phone number behind the vanity number.  Last time I just gave up and called someone else, the time before that I had to do a web search to find a picture of a normal phone where I could see which number matched which letter.  They may be easy to remember, but can be terribly difficult to actually use.

It’s also 2012.  Long distance is not nearly as expensive at it use to be.  Plus more and more people have cell phones, internet phones, skype, magic jack or unlimited long distance plans.  Many people end up paying the same with the 800 number as they would with the normal long distance number.  So the value of a toll free number is minimal for many companies.   I personally only have received 2 requests for my toll free number in the past 3 years. (including both honeyrunapiaries.com and etcsupply.com)

I’m not sure this is a rant about poorly thought out marketing (by advertising the vanity number first), or with companies that fail to get with the times and realize free social marketing will gain you far more customers than a badly advertised and hard to use vanity number.   It is 2012 now after all.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com/blog/rants/vanity-800-numbers-a-thing-of-the-past/

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