For the LOVE of BEES

If you plan to join the growing number of hobby beekeepers the very first step should be to define your goals.  I learned that the hard way.

It’s a wonderful thing to see the popularity of beekeeping keeps increasing.  I love beekeeping for many reasons, but when I was first starting out the learning curve was very intimidating.  And that’s coming from someone who usually adores learning.  

Not only was there loads to learn about the bees themselves, but also about how to manage their colonies, which changes depending on your hive type, which is dependent on what your goals are as a beekeeper.

The first question to answer for yourself as a newbie is if you are interested in beekeeping as livestock or as habitat provider, or maybe both.

I had several mishaps in my first years because I hadn’t asked myself this most fundamental question.  I hadn’t asked myself this because in all the books, forums, courses and club meetings I’d attended, no one asked this question.  The general assumption is always that the beekeeper is interested in bees as livestock, because that’s what most want.

In this case, follow the commercial standards, using their Langstroth hives and peripheral equipment, their treatment schedules for pests and diseases, and their feeding programs and supplies, and you should be good to go.  You can buy nucs (nucleus colonies) in the spring, and if all goes well you’ll have some honey before winter.  This is by far the most popular route to take in beekeeping.

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Our only Langstroth hive on the homestead, bedazzled with old jewelry.

But it’s not for everyone, including me, which took me a few years to figure out.  Honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly, queen rearing, and other processes and products from beekeeping are the main goals of this style of beekeeping and there’s lots to learn from the commercial operators who have mastered many of these skills for maximum efficiency and profit.

However, if you are interested more in providing habitat and learning from the bees, and creating truly sustainable, long-term, self-sufficient colonies in your space, following commercial practices is really not the way to go, and can lead to a lot of expense, confusion and frustration.

In the hopes of encouraging more beekeepers to become honeybee habitat providers rather than livestock managers only, here are a few tips and resources.

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The bee yard of Dennis Kenney of Jackson-area Beekeepers Club, with his preferred horizontal hive style.  Horizontal hives differ from Top-bar hives in that they have full frames with foundation.  Benefits of full frames is ease of management and stability of comb.  Drawbacks would be the added expense and the artificial, manufactured foundation and its potential contaminants.

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  • The conventional practice is to keep all your hives in a ‘bee yard’ for reasons of convenience and space.  This is antithetical to bee colonies’ natural proclivity to nest far from one another.  It creates problems of diseases and pests that spread rapidly in conditions of overpopulation, which is why so many treatments are needed, and then feeding when nectar/pollen flow is scarce, as well as being hyper-vigilant in your regular hive inspections to find issues immediately before they spread.  Now that I have spaced my 6 hives out around a very large area I’m having far more success.  But, only time will tell!

What else I’ve learned:

  • The typical Langstroth hive is made for easy transport and standardization purposes for the industry mainly, but they are not ideal for the honeybee habitat provider, because they are made with thin walls in order to be lightweight. This means they are poorly insulated and so not suitable for the long-term stability of the hive—getting too hot in summer in southern climates and too cold in winter in northern climates.  Our top-bar hives and nucs have thick walls and insulated roofs. 

  • If you want your bees adapted to your area and climate you don’t want to do the conventional practice of buying new queens every couple of years.  Ideally, you’ll want your colonies to produce their own queens.  Queen-rearing will remain an essential skill for a more advanced beekeeper, because occassionally you may still want to make splits to increase your numbers or to replace weak colonies, or to re-queen another hive displaying poor genetic traits. 
  • When the colonies are weak, depending on the issue, they may need to be culled. This is rarely suggested by professional beekeepers who promote regular treatments on which the weak colonies then become dependent, while still spreading their weak genes on to subsequent generations and their diseases and pests to other colonies.

Just like the faulty logic of ‘herd immunityin the vaccine debate among human populations, many commercial beekeepers use the same complaint about those of us who want go au naturel, that is, treatment-free, with our bees.

Many scientists and researchers are trying to raise public awareness that this is not how herd-immunity works, not in livestock or in humans, and I applaud their efforts.  I personally find referring to populations of people as a herd to be insulting.  I think it actually trains individuals through neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to think of themselves and each other not as unique and separate individuals, but rather as cattle to be managed.

  • You’ll also want to mostly forgo the conventional practice of swarm prevention.  The goal is for the bees to become self-sufficient, as in the wild, where colonies can live for decades with no hand from man to aid or to disturb.  Some of these colonies are enormous, like one we found in an old oil barrel, there for over 15 years and thriving with multiple queens in the same colony, which most likely swarmed annually.

Swarming is a natural, bio-dynamic process performing many different functions for the colony, hygiene being an essential one. Everything the beekeeper takes away from their natural processes is a stress on them which must then be alleviated by other, most likely artificial, means.

  • Plant perennial and annual crops the bees like for your area and climate.  Here in the south there are plenty of plants that bloom at different times most of the year, giving free bee buffets from early spring to late fall, like: bluebonnet, white clover, hairy vetch, wild mustard, vitek, morning glory, trumpet vine, yaupon, and lots of garden herbs and crops, too.  It is my greatest pleasure to harvest cucumbers, peas, beans and arugula surrounded by forging bees—they love them as much as we do!

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Experimenting and observing is the most fabulous feature of the honeybee habitat provider! 

I know a homeschooling homesteader with an observation hive in their house that the children treasure.  Not only do they learn from these fascinating creatures about how they operate in the hive, but how they are connected to the seasons and to their environment.  They’re learning constantly from the colonies’ successes as much as from their failures.

I practice slightly different techniques with each hive to discover which methods work best here on the wee homestead: one hive has a screened bottom board, one I keep with a reduced entrance all year, one’s in full-sun and another partial shade, and so on.  Not that this will necessarily solve the mystery of colony failure, but every bit of data helps!

Some unconventional resources:

Books

The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters by Simon Buxton (2004)

The Dancing Bees: An Account of the Life and Senses of the Honey Bee by Karl von Frisch (1953)

Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder & Heather Harrell (2012)

Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture by Ross Conrad (2013)

Sites

Treatment-free Beekeeping YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCC_Yb2d_9M09hcaWlghVZDg

The Bee-Master of Warrilow by Tigkner Edwardes (1921)

https://archive.org/stream/cu31924003203175/cu31924003203175_djvu.txt

Biobees

http://biobees.com/library/general_beekeeping/beekeeping_books_articles/BroAdam_Search_for_Best_strains2.htm

Dr. Leo Sharashkin

horizontalhive.com

Stop the Madness!

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The geoengineering/weather modification is destroying lives, property and our environment.  This is now clear to millions of folks around the world who are getting educated, standing up, and speaking out.

But millions will not be enough to change this course, we have the biggest multinational corporations, governments and militaries around the globe against us, and against the entire web of life.

Like this landowner, who goes by Swamp Boss, we have also been losing trees at an astonishing rate these last several years.  This is absolutely not normal by any stretch of the imagination and any landowner paying attention knows this.  Our forests are being poisoned.

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I try to talk about this with folks—friends, neighbors, family—I even hand out flyers, and I get blank stares and eye rolls for my efforts, and rarely do I get a single question or look of concern.  It’s baffling and upsetting and I’m really peeved at the lack of care of those around me.  That’s why I spend so much time alone gathering evidence from folks I’ve never met, simply because it’s too painful to not find like-minded individuals, so I seek them out, even if only in cyberspace.

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There is plenty of information out there and if more folks don’t take an interest in the actual world around them, the natural world, we don’t stand a chance.

I really wish I knew what the magic formula would be to get folks to look up from their games and fiddlesticks for long enough to realize all our lives and livelihoods are in danger, and we are at war.

Folks need to stop saying, “Calm down!” And start rising up.

What will make folks care?  Who do you think your grandchildren are going to blame when they inherit a dead planet, while you eye-rolled yourself back into a zombified stupor bowed before your handheld radiation fondle slab?

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Or said, “No problem, calm down, God will solve it.”
Or said, “Technology landed us on the moon and will solve this too, so stop bothering me with your negativity.”

”But look . . ,” you will try to explain at your grandchildren’s accusations of carelessness and irresponsibility . . . “You don’t have food, but you have Facebook! We did that! You’re welcome!”

What kind of trade off have you made on their behalves, and who gave you such a right?

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Spring Chaos to Summer Swelter

The geoengineered ‘tornado’ this spring has been a big setback for us, but we’re adjusting with a blossoming ‘f**k it’ attitude that will surely see us through the misery of the current hazy-swamp setting per the weather controllers.

BE7E2441-5C49-4460-A650-79BE67B77BC1The ‘feels like’ temperature promises to remain in the 100s for a few months, no doubt.  Most folks around here say that’s normal, but that’s because most folks alive today have been living with modified weather for decades without realizing it.  Weathermodificationhistory.com

Since the politicians and select scientists have partnered up to bully the public into buying their global climate change scheme, the few who even notice the atmosphere is different think the technocrats will swoop in and fix it all up again.

 

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Seriously?

The ‘f**k it’ attitude is necessary to maintain sanity currently, but knowing it must be temporary makes it especially bitter-sweet.  Downed trees remain a keen reminder still in looking out through any window of the house. 

But, I’ve adjusted to them now, labeling them in my mind as satanic yard art.

My shoulder injury persists, Hubby’s working loads of overtime, and there’s plenty to do just in maintaining what we can without tackling a difficult clean-up project just now.  Or just about anything else.

As a bonus, the birds love it, we have cardinals nesting, super happy woodpeckers, bouncing bunnies, and the sheep are cooperative enough to take on the garden mess for me.

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85F6D33B-6E44-4ACF-A288-2A82BFCAE4D2Since I can’t make cheese or garden or can, I’ve been trying to foster some new hobbies.  Learning to paint and sew helps to pass the time, but mostly they are too sedentary for my nature.  I’m trying to adjust. 

But, it feels like trying, as does reading, which doesn’t fit so well with the ‘f**k it’ mindset.  For now we join the masses in their preferred great American pastime of apathy, avoidance and distraction by binge-watching movies with a good buzz on.

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Now what bee in her right mind wouldn’t find that to be a pretty home?!

 

The bees are growing fine without my participation, yay!  And, I think I heard Mr. Dragonfly volunteer to help me train the young grape vines.

DF2E3819-B11C-4FFE-BEFF-48AA1D0B61A6The roses aren’t happy suffering through brambles and grasses, but they’re handling their neglect with grace nonetheless.

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But, there should be butterflies all over these zinnias, and that’s cause for concern.

Which then reminds me, it must be cocktail hour.  Like Grandma used to say, “It’s 5:00 somewhere!”

 

Weeping Mary (video)

As I recently wrote, the Caddo Mounds located in Weeping Mary, near Alto, TX, were leveled, along with loads of damage in Alto and other areas.  I’ve driven there twice, it’s not too far from us, and what I’ve witnessed is still baffling to me.

Caddo Mounds Tornado: Texas Historic Site Struck

http://www.kltv.com/2019/04/17/estimated-cost-rebuild-caddo-mounds-state-historic-site-million/

 

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I saw a cow in labor, dead on the side of the road.

According to this report there was a lot of blood and one death.

https://www.cbs19.tv/article/news/storm-hits-caddo-mounds-during-caddo-culture-day-festival/501-26e14ff5-32ac-486d-bcc9-cb5de81cc2a5

I tried to take these videos, from my phone, and I do really apologize they are not better quality.  I was alone and driving 50 mph and have no experience with video at all.  I thought to learn some editing, try to slow it down or something, but what’s so striking is how long the damage goes on, which is why I had the music on.  I couldn’t even get it all, my phone wouldn’t save/send that much.  But here’s a glimpse, at least.

That’s the Neches river that’s flooded to the road.  The 2nd video includes the mounds, minus the structures.

I do not believe this is a ‘natural disaster’ or a typical tornado, as has been claimed. Perhaps y’all will see what I see a bit better from the videos.

 

 

For those interested in this geographical area, and why it might be a lucrative location for some good ole fashioned disaster capitalism, I can recommend several books for further research.

Mound Sites of the Ancient South: A Guide to the Mississippian Chiefdoms by Eric E. Bowne

Bulletin of Texas Archeological Society Volume 69/1998

Land of Bears and Honey: A Natural History of East Texas by Joe C. Truett and Daniel W. Lay

 

Advice, well-meaning?

Well, I have already exhausted my resources as far as well-meaning advice from the indoctrinated, ignorant, and ill-informed. Bless their hearts.

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How do we secure our future on the wee homestead where we intend to retire and eventually die when weather terrorism masked as global climate change is wrecking havoc on our livelihood and general disposition and ability to constantly adapt?

Well-meaning advice: More insurance.

So we pay for more insurance so that business in the skies and in the criminal cartels we’ve named governments can continue as usual? But that’s not racketeering?

How do we protect the land and our personal commitment and calling as individuals when the states and communities are taking guidance from compromised institutions attending to steering committees of agendas far, far away from where we call our home? And, by idiots, no less.

Atlantic Council Takes Over ‘100 Resilient Cities’ From Rockefeller Foundation

Thoughtful question from clueless or pretending friend: Do you have an accountant?

WOW!

Elimination of Private Land Ownership: United Nations Agenda 21 here at the local level

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Agenda 21/2030 aims to abolish private property under the guise of ‘sustainable development’ and EVERY Administration in this country for decades has been on board with this U.N. program.  Including the CURRENT ONE!

Typical reply: That’s a conspiracy theory.

Really? Because, they have a f-ing website, moron! Pardon my f-ing French. Just a bit testy these days. Don’t mind me, I’ll just pour me another sherry.

Sustainabledevelopment.un.org

That is, U.S.A., Inc.

“And what is a ‘shell company’ — they seem to be proliferating these days.”

“I don’t know, never heard of them.”

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And still more well-meaning advice:

“You can’t fight the government, sweetie.”

“Oh that good ole Double-Bind, got it, thanks Dad.”

“You’re welcome, sweetie.”

”They soon learn to quit trying to protect themselves, and they quit trying to think for themselves, but submit to the environment around them.”

And they’ll even go as far as to call that Balance. Chainless Slaves

 

 

 

 

Bleeding $$!!

Apparently the economy is brilliant, according to the Trump-Train.

Well, I believe that, believe it or not.  It’s elementary to me by looking at our own expenditures of the Crazy-Train Spring 2019.

Because health care costs are ridiculous:

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$3,700 for emergency room visit, 5 stitches to Handy Hubby’s hand.  His first on-the-homestead accident/injury. Ridiculous health care costs thanks to insane policies of multiple administrations. Thanks, Corporatocracy!  Great job at outrageous cost.

$4,000 new roof, thanks to increased weather modification/manipulation in our area, Geoengineering being ramped up thanks to widespread approval by the Trump-train.

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$200 and counting for acupuncture treatments thanks to electricity surge on new electric meter that fried my shoulder something awful over 6 months ago.  The garden is neglected, the household, too, my bad. The Trump-train loves 5G tech, bring it on! Yay!

4 days lost paid work for Handy Hubby, who had to take vacation time to normalize the homestead after manufactured ‘tornado’ dropped at least 2 dozen mature trees on our property, a half-dozen right around our house.  Oh, but we are so blessed, none hit me or the house or the critters.  Silver lining, brilliant!

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Two weeks before that was baseball-sized hail, that meant $300 on a new windshield, that had just been replaced.

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And all kinds of folks and communities around our area of East Texas are spending loads of $$ on damages of their own.  Markets are thriving!  Thank you, sir, may we have another?!  Houston is promising to be a well-spring of endless catastrophe revenues, brilliant. I bet Trump did that!  Or, fairies?

That’s including exciting and constant weather whiplash all year, like a weather rollercoaster at Disney Land, resulting in no pear crop this year and a complete lost effort with many other crops in the garden that go straight to seed from the constant fluctuating temperatures. Hurray!

Common sense alert: no crops thrive in weather whiplash! (Don’t rain on my parade, bitch!)

 

We can no longer afford the delusions of this economy.  We are downsizing. Most of our meager holdings will meet freezer camp, unfortunately, as we come to grips with survival mode.

Let’s all enjoy our eternal non-inflation in the fantasmagorical Trump economy!

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When the Going Gets Tough

 

We have all kinds of sayings to ward off all kinds of issues, mostly with the intention of bypassing, minimizing, and moving on.  Shit happens, right?  Don’t let the bastards get ya down, eh?  There’s always a silver lining.  Don’t sweat the small stuff. The sun will come out tomorrow.  Look at the bright side.  Don’t cry over spilled milk.  Buck up, buttercup!

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The falling trees missed the roses, and the deck and house, and all the critters, and me, PRAISE BE!

I know, I know, I’ve heard it all and I’ve probably said half of it myself.   Really though, when someone’s truly feeling down, no one wants to hear another ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps’ slogan.  A friend to cry in your tea or beer with would be loads more helpful, but sometimes that doesn’t help either.

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Thanks to more experienced friends at Melody Acres Ranch the overturned nuc has been righted and it’s doing just swell.

I count my blessings, really, I do.  I’m very good at that.

It’s just that, sometimes, nothing helps, at least not right away.  Sometimes there’s a ‘something’s gotta give’ feeling that lodges itself for a while after a big, bad event, even if everything mostly turning out fine in the end.

The triumphs still feel too short-lived and the setbacks too many.

I remember to remember my favorite things, but the joy in them seems less renewing. This in itself is solemnifying.

Visitors are welcome, yet distracting.

I know nature is resilient and life goes on.  The very morning after the ‘tornado,’ as I was assessing the damages, the birds were chirping, the critters begging for their meals, and Handy Hubby headed back home from work out-of-state to get us back into gear.

Still, despite my usual mood-shifting tricks, my gears still feel a bit stuck.

The snake getting fat on our eggs in the coop, a rabbit devouring the garden.

Oh, just let them be, I think, which is not really like me.

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Sometimes that’s just the way it is.
And, this too shall pass.