It’s a Life Skills Problem

I couldn’t agree more with Max Igan when he repeats that losing our life skills is assuredly one of the most serious vulnerabilities of modern civilization.  

Of course, I can’t agree with his ‘no private property’ stance, but that’s another post.

Igan’s outlook reminds me when I was first introduced to the theory of Spiral Dynamics, when my fellow students (mostly middle-aged women of a relatively superior income class) immediately ‘recognized’ themselves in the ‘highly evolved’ stage of ‘Turquoise’.  Big surprise. 

I was far too polite when I refrained from pointing out what was obvious to me even as a novice, having already been ploughing away on the wee homestead by then for several years.

Your Turquoise is built on a house of cards, Madame,” is what was obvious to me immediately, and which I longed to express.  If it were built on a house of sand you’d be far safer, I’d then add.

Even my favorite synopsis of this social theory fails to highlight the significance of ‘Beige’ — the foundations of civilization.  This stage is considered to be subsistence living, hand-to-mouth, barely advanced to basic tribal existence.

The theorist here, Don Beck, demonstrates respect, even some reverence to their ancient wisdom, but with the assumption, it seems obvious to me, that an evolved civilization has technological immunity to such bio-psycho-social devolution that would accompany this exceptional vulnerability of modern life.  

You think butchering and gardening, farming and foraging are skills beneath you, Family Silicon Valley?  

Or, in the tolerant, nostalgic age they are, at best, quaint lost skills to pine about and imitate in your Petri dishes? Ya’ll can’t possible recognize your feeble attempts bound to fail as you attempt to fit all of creation into your teensy-BIG Smart World?

Think again, former friends.  Here are the real skills armies and resilient cultures are built on.  

Here’s your reality, Family Turquoise, if the grid goes down, you can’t survive, not even for a fortnight.  Psychic breakdown would occur almost immediately, due to lack of any authentic earthly connections or spiritual foundations in your personal or family or community unit.

Then the true reality of your vulnerability would hit home for real.  You have NO LIFE SKILLS, at all! Not spiritually, not physically, not emotionally. 

Most Americans these days can’t even cook from scratch.  This skill was lost in barely two generations.  And what’s worse, they can’t even fathom what happens to the individual mind, let alone the family and in turn the collective consciousness, when faced head-on with annihilation.

The more ‘superior’ one calls themselves in the modern world is directly related to how vulnerable they really are.  Perhaps that’s what the well-quoted Bible translation meant in claiming, “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

As a wise woman in an era of uncertainty, who are you going to put your confidence in—the wealthy CEO of Fiction, USA with a San Francisco loft worth a few million on paper—or the ‘poor’ man who can trap, shoot, butcher and even cook the meat for your table?

bigchopsmoker

That the ‘A Class’ woman chooses poorly in this situation doesn’t surprise me at all considering our current state of affairs and the fact that of the many supporters as well as volumes discussing this social theory of Spiral Dynamics, I’ve yet to find one who gets the full nuance of Beige.

Modern folk just don’t want to go there.  It’s like the old lyrics, “How ya gonna keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen gay Paris?”  It’s hard work after all.

It’s not just whistling Dixie in your Tu-Tu, thanks anyway, Grandma.

1938 Mom - 4th-ice follies
Yeah, that’s Granny, the gorgeous one, 4th from the left.

 

So we get Soy-Boys who are good at sales, rather than competent men who can bring home the real bacon.  The ‘elite-class’ calls this ‘evolution’.  This is ‘spiritual’ advancement.  

Why might they promote this among the plebs and their entertainers? Heaven knows!

If one isn’t capable of hurting a fly, then we’ve evolved to societal sainthood, according to these shysters. This is their Utopia. 

As for the adult-children bolstering these Pied Pipers?  How long shall the competent among a functional colony support them, I wonder?

http://www.alt-market.com/index.php/articles/3969-why-is-the-elitist-establishment-so-obsessed-with-meat

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall . . .
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall . . .

And I said, “Serves ya right, fat ass in fantasy land.”

 

 

 

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