Bee Landing Blog

Workshop and speaking scedule for 2011

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

We will be holding hands on workshops at Bee Landing throughout the spring summer and fall of 2011. These will include working the live bees yourself, as well as listening to me talk about treatment free beekeeping. (I don’t shut up the whole 3 hrs)

Workshops are from 1 pm – 4 pm. Cost is $50 for one person— bring your spouse or a friend for an extra $25. contact me for group or family discounts. Kids come free with their parents! Workshops are free when you purchase a bee hive!

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I like to keep the workshops under 10 people, so you may want to pay in advance to insure a spot.

Contact me for lodging as well

The schedule is as follows:

March 12th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

March 26th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

April 23rd Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

May 21st Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing. This is Bee pick up day as well for those who ordered Nucs so we will extend the workshop until dusk, so we can load the bees in your car.

June 4th and 5th I will be speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair in Payallup, WA (don’t ask me to pronounce that). They have also asked me to present an additional workshop on harvesting the honey.

June 18th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

July 7th, 8th, and 9th, I will be presenting at the 10th Anniversary Heartland Apiculture Society Conference in Vincennes, IN (Don’t ask me to pronounce that one either)

July 16th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

July 30th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

Aug 13th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

Aug 27th Hands on Workshop at Bee Landing

Sept 3rd, 4th, and 5th I will be speaking at the Mother Earth News Fair in San Rafael, CA (I can pronounce that one)

Sept 24th and 25th I will be speaking at the Mother Earth News fair in Seven Springs, PA

For workshop payment you can send check or money order to:

Bee Landing
18150 E 752 rd
Humansville, MO 65674

Send me an email or call with questions
417-276-3730 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 417-276-3730 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

A quote from a family that attended.

“Thank you so much for the wonderful time we had @ your place. We left excited, educated and inspired. We all had such a great time. It put us all on the same page, as far as bee keeping goes, and has given us an interesting hobby to practice together.

It was so nice to be there as a family and to have you focus on our son James so often. With it being his birthday gift it was very important to us that he felt included, and he did.”

Another quote

Meeting and getting to spend time with you all was one of the best days of 2010. Looking forward to seeing you again in the Spring.

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This is a great interview with the Urban Conversion

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

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Winterizing your bees the natural way

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

It’s that time of year to think about putting our summertime pleasures to bed. At our house, we just finished carpeting our entire front lawn with a deep mulch of spoiled hay. This is the first step to converting our lawn to food production.

What do we need to do for the bees?

Many of you already know, bees do not hibernate or sleep in the winter. They form a cluster and generate heat. They maintain 96 degrees in the middle of the cluster all winter long. The process of warm air emanating from the cluster making contact with the cold flat surface above the cluster results in moisture build up or condensation, much like the water that forms on a cold glass and runs down to make a ring on your mother-in-law’s antique end table. Standing water is never a good scenario, whether it is in a beehive or an antique end table.

At our local bee clubs, we are usually taught to give the bees ventilation on the top of the hive as well as the bottom entrance. This is to prevent humidity from building up on the ceiling of the hive only to drip into the cluster to freeze them. However, this extra ventilation is problematic because the air draft requires more energy from the clustered bees to maintain the 96 degrees and 50% humidity. Simply put, they have to eat more of their food storage than necessary.

In the wild, bees prefer to maintain a single entrance at the bottom of the hive. A single entrance allows them to fan fresh air or ventilate the hive as needed. Fanning also directs excess moisture to be absorbed into the wood to be made available for when it is drier or when in serious excess they can direct it out of the entrance.

So realizing that the droplets of moisture building up on the flat cold ceiling of the hive, is a man made problem, we avoid the situation by mimicking nature. We use thicker wood to emulate a hollow log and we let the bees seal up all the cracks as they like to do anyway. We try not to open the hives in the cool of fall. If we must, we press the hives parts back together to allow the propolis to reseal the hive.

In commercial bee breeding, they have done their level best to eliminate the pesky propolis through selective breeding. Propolis is a resin that the bees harvest from trees and plants in order to seal the cracks in the hive. It is nature’s version of weather-stripping. It can be annoying. It is sticky and messy, requiring hives to be pried apart. In nature you will find that the propolis is extremely important to the well being of the bees. It has medicinal value to the bees as an antibacterial. So if we look to nature as a guide, we should be breeding bees that still have the inclination to make copious amounts of sticky, messy propolis. We need to let our bees breed with the local survivor genetics so that if they want to make messy propolis, they can. We just let them do it because we love them. Joel Salatin says we need to let pigs be pigs. Pigs need to wallow in the mud. We need to let bees be bees and let them make sticky messy propolis.

For winter feeding of the bees, we are taught by commercial beekeepers, to feed our bee’s high fructose corn syrup or sugar. The economics are simple. It is cheaper to feed the bee’s subsidized substitutes. I explain the problems with feeding subsidized substitutes in another blog post. Winterizing the natural way includes making sure they have enough honey to last the winter. If you are not sure how much to leave, then wait until spring to harvest. It is painful to wait, I know. The benefit is healthier bees.

In nature the bees are usually up in a tree where mice and other varmints can’t reach, so to compensate we need to reduce the entrances of the hive to prevent mice from spending the winter in the hive with the bees.

I know you’re going to watch them from the window of your warm house all winter and wonder how they are doing. “Should I warm up the hive for them?” “Maybe I should wrap them in a blanket?” It’s ok to watch, but after they have been sealed into a woody cavity, we need to let them experience the winter as they have done for 10 million years. When we warm a hive it makes the bees think spring is here and they will begin the brood production. This will result in your bees eating through the winter stores much faster. This often leads to starvation.

I know you’re going to wonder if you should clear the snow off the hive. Snow is actually a good insulator, so leave it be. If you get edgy and need something to do, I advocate taking some great winter pictures of the pristine snow on and around your hive, and send them to me.

Here at BeeLanding I am in the continual pursuit of designing a beehive that is more in tune with how the bees live in the wild. The closer I get to a hollow log, the happier the bees and I are. My hive customers have been very pleased with my incarnations. The only problem is because my design has thicker wood the freight is quite high. For this reason and because we have also had so many requests for our Homestead Hive plans, we have decided to make the plans and instructions available on our website. You can order them at the bottom of our products page.

Photo by James Zitting.

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Feeding refined suggar and HFCS to honey bees

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Previous post for The Mother Earth News

In the beekeeping world it is common to harvest the honey in the fall. In natural beekeeping, we try to leave enough honey to sustain the bees to last until spring. However many beekeepers feed sugar or high fructose corn syrup to bees.

The main reason beekeepers do this supplemental feeding is a matter of simple economics. The commercial beekeepers have a business to run, and when they do the math, it simply does not work from a financial stand point to let the bees eat honey. They can make more money selling the honey and buying an artificial substitute. For a more in-depth view on this see my blog. This post will focus on why we need to let the bees eat their own honey.Me holding a frame of brood at BeeLanding

For eons of time the honey bees have been gathering nectar, mixing it with their own special enzymes, and placing it in the wax cells. The bees create a draft through the hive by flapping their wings in unison to evaporate the moisture from the nectar until it thickens to aproxamitly 18% moisture. During this process the enzymes continue to work and when the bees decide the honey is ripe, they cap it. Capping is simply when the bees cover the cell with wax to seal off their special winter food. The honey is an amazing food that will last indefinitely.

There is another process taking place in the bee hive that few people know about. When the bees bring in pollen they also add enzymes that pickle or ferment the pollen. This pickled pollen is called “bee bread” This bee bread is even more nutritious for the bees because they can assimilate it better. There have been over 8,000 different micro organisms recorded living in the bee bread. It is a fine tuned and balanced world of little bugs that I liken to the microorganisms and flora living in our intestines. We simply could not live without them, and neither can the bees.

People will argue that sugar is sugar and that it is the same thing to the bees as honey. However refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are not honey. They have a different PH and they lack the enzymes.

When you change the PH in a bee hive, it affects the finely balanced world of the little bugs, and weakens the colony. When they track pesticides and fungicides into the hive with their little feet, the life within the bee bread is affected.

Another thing that most people don’t realize about honey is that when you feed bees HFCS they stash it in the same cells that nectar gets stored in, and in fact gets mixed up with the honey. So when you buy honey from many suppliers you are getting HFCS and a honey mixture—even if the label says “pure honey,” the odds are it isn’t.

HFCS is claimed to be toxic to honey bees. We are also learning it isn’t good for humans either.

The bottom line is that the bees will continue to be fed artificial sugars as long it makes economic sense to do so. Due to the corn lobby convincing our lawmakers to subsidize the corn crops, HFCS is cheap. Since I don’t think the government will stop the corporate welfare any time soon, we the people must bite the bullet and pay the higher price to the natural beekeepers with the natural honey. Let’s reward the beekeepers who do the right thing by buying their product, and the big players will catch on and change there ways.

Simply put, get to know your local beekeepers. Ask questions about if they feed substitutes and if they place chemicals in their hives. In doing so, you are protecting the bees, the environment, and your own personal health.

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Contact info for honey bee suppliers who practice natural beekeeping.

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

It is the time of year to line up bees for the spring of 2011! I recommend buying bees that are raised naturally and sized naturally. I will list a few suppliers here, and add more as I find them.

Myron Kropf lives in northern AR and sells packages and nucs (short for nucleus, which is a small working colony with a laying queen). His nucs are in standard frames, so you will need to convert them over if you use top bar hives. his # is 870-458-3002 He has no email. I spoke with him Thursday, and he told me that he prefers having people pick up the packages, as he has trouble mailing them.

There is a fellow down in GA with the email who sells natural bees, and he also will not ship.

Sam Comfort with has small cell bees on top bars. I don’t know if he is already sold out for the spring. I also recommend reading the material on his site, as he is not only funny but, makes a lot of sense as well. I think he as a presence in NY and FL

And lastly I do not have any of my bees for sale in the spring of 2011 however I am buying a limited supply of packages from Myron in AR and installing them in top bar hives, feeding them honey and after the queen is laying and the comb is about the size of a basketball I will sell them as top bar nucs.

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