Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson


, , ,

Happy Birthday Emily Dickinson – Born Dec. 10, 1830

The Bee
By Emily Dickinson

Like trains of cars on tracks of plush
I hear the level bee:
A jar across the flowers goes,
Their velvet masonry
Withstands until the sweet assault
Their chivalry consumes,
While he, victorious, tilts away
To vanquish other blooms.
His feet are shod with gauze,
His helmet is of gold;
His breast, a single onyx
With chrysoprase, inlaid.
His labor is a chant,
His idleness a tune;
Oh, for a bee’s experience
Of clovers and of noon!

A team of archaeologists is rediscovering just how extensive Emily Dickinson’s garden was. Historical evidence shows Emily Dickinson’s Garden contained an abundance of blooming flowers. Archaeologists recently uncovered portions of a pathway leading to nineteenth-century flower and vegetable beds.Emily Dickinson – was an American poet born in Amherst, Massachusetts. (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) ~ during her lifetime she “was known more widely as a gardener, perhaps, than as a poet”. Emily Dickinson’s niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, remembered “carpets of lily-of-the-valley and pansies, platoons of sweetpeas, hyacinths, enough in May to give all the bees of summer dyspepsia. There were ribbons of peony hedges and drifts of daffodils in season, marigolds to distraction—a butterfly utopia” Archaeology – Remnants of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens Sought

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS—Emily Dickinson is known today as one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century, but in her lifetime she may have been more renowned for her gardening. At her family estate, she helped to tend an orchard, a greenhouse, and an expanse of flower and vegetable gardens. The size of these gardens was dramatically decreased in the decades after Dickinson died in 1886, but now a team of archaeologists is searching for their remnants. Last summer, they uncovered portions of a pathway leading to nineteenth-century flower and vegetable beds. “If we can follow out the historic path to its end, then theoretically we would find the location of past gardens,” Kerry Lynch of Archaeological Services at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told the New York Times. If they do locate these gardens, the archaeologists hope to find seeds or other botanical evidence dating back to when Dickinson was alive.

Archaeology – Remnants of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens Sought

Emily Dickinson


Happy Birthday Amos I. Root


, , , , ,



Amos Ives Root – Born December 9, 1839 (1839–1923)

Biography of A. I. Root
Written by E. R. Root

A. I. Root was born in a log house, December 9, 1830, about two miles north of the present manufacturing plant of The A. I. Root Co. He was a frail child, and his parents had little hopes of raising him to manhood, although some of the neighbors said his devoted mother would not let him die. As he grew older his taste for gardening and mechanics became apparent. Among his early hobbies were windmills, clocks, poultry, electricity, and chemistry —anything and everything in the mechanical line that would interest a boy who intensely loved machinery. Later on we find him experimenting in electricity and chemistry; and at 18 he is out on a lecturing-tour with a fully equipped apparatus of his own construction.

We next find Mr. Root learning the jeweler’s trade, and it was not long before he decided to go into business for himself. He accordingly went to an old gentleman who loaned money, and asked him if he would let him have a certain amount of money for a limited time. This friend agreed to lend him the amount, but he urgently advised him to wait a little and earn the money by working for wages. This practical piece of advice, coming as it did at the very beginning of his career, was indeed a God-send, and. unlike most boys, he decided to accept it. Imbued with a love for his work, and having indomitable push, he soon earned enough to make a start in business, without borrowing a dollar. The business prospered till A. I. Root & Co. were the largest manufacturers of real coin-silver jewelry in the country. From $200 to $300 worth of coin was made weekly into rings and chains, and the firm employed something like 15 or 20 men and women.

It was about this time, or in 1865, that a swarm of bees passed over his shop; but as this incident is given so fully in the introduction I omit it here. Not long after he became an A B C scholar himself in bees, he began to write for the American Bee Journal under the nom de plume of “Novice.” In these papers he recounted a few of his successes and many of his failures with bees. His frank confession of his mistakes, his style of writing, so simple, clear, and clean-cut, brought him into prominence at once. So many inquiries came in that he was finally induced to start a journal, entitled Gleanings in Bee Culture of this, now his business grew to such a size that the manufacturing plant alone covered five acres, and employed from 100 to 200 men —all this and more is told in the Introduction by the writer.

As an inventor Mr. Root has occupied quite a unique field. He was the first to introduce the one pound-section honey-box, of which something like 50,000,000 are now made annually. He made the first practical ail-metal honey-extractor. This he very modestly styled the “Novice,” a machine of which thousands have been made and are still made. Among his other inventions may be named the Simplicity hive, the Novice honey-knife, several reversible frames, and the metal-cornered frame. The last named was the only invention he ever patented, and this he subsequently gave to the world long before the patent expired.

In the line of horticultural tools he invented a number of useful little devices which he freely gave to the public. But the two inventions which he considers of the most value is one for storing up heat, like storing electricity in a storage battery, and another for disposing of sewage in rural districts. The first named is a system of storing up the heat from exhaust steam in Mother Earth in such a way that greenhouses and dwelling-houses can be heated, even after the engine has stopped at night, and for several days after. The other invention relates to a method of disposing of the sewage from indoor water-closets so that “Mother Earth,” as he calls it, will take it automatically and convert it into plant life, without the least danger to health or life, and that, too, for a period of years without attention from any one.

Some of the secrets of his success in business may be briefly summed, up by saying that it was always his constant aim to send goods by return train, and to answer letters by return mail, although, of course, as the business continued to grow this became less and less practicable. He believed most emphatically in mixing business and religion—in conducting business on Christian principles; or to adopt a modern phrase, doing business “as Jesus would do it.” As might be expected, such a policy drew an immense clientage, for people far and wide believed in him. But how few, comparatively, in this busy world, go beyond the practice that honesty is the best policy! While A. 1. Root believed in this good rule he did not think it went far enough, and, accordingly, tried to adopt and live the Golden Rule.

The severe strain of long hours of work, together with constantly failing health, compelled Mr. Root to throw some of the responsibilities of the increasing business on his sons and sons-in-law. This was between 1886 and 1890. At no definite time could it be said that there was a formal transfer of the management of the supply business and the management of the bee department of Gleanings to his children; but as time went on they gradually assumed the control, leaving him free to engage in gardening and other rural pursuits, and for the last ten years he has given almost no attention to bees, devoting nearly all his time to travel and to lighter rural Industries. He has written much on horticultural and agricultural subjects; indeed, it is probable that he has done more writing on these subjects than he ever did on bees.

Note: He did not invent a section box for holding honey, but only a box just the right size to put 8 into a Langstroth frame.

For the last twenty-five years he has been writing a series of lay sermons, touching particularly on the subject of mixing business and religion, work and wages, and, in general, the great problem of capital and labor. As an employer of labor he had here a large field for observation, and well has he made use of it. Perhaps no series of articles he ever wrote has elicited a more sympathetic response from his friends all over this wide world than these same talks; and through these he has been the means of bringing many a one into the fold of Christ.

It has been a rather difficult matter to get a picture that was in any way satisfactory to the members of his family. Finally the writer, one day, with a Kodak, took a “time view” of him in his favorite place of resort, the greenhouse, among his “posies,” where he spends hours of his happiest moments. This view shows him just as he appears around home in his everyday work clothes. Ill health, or a sort of malaria that has been hanging about him for years, has forced him. during winter, to wear a fur cap and to keep his overcoat constantly on, indoors and outdoors, with the collar turned up.

Mr. Root, ever since his conversion, in 1875 has been a most active working Christian. No matter what the condition of his health, he is a regular attendant at church and prayer-meeting. He takes great interest in all lines of missionary work, and especially in the subject of temperance. He annually gives considerable sums of money to support the cause of missions, and to the Ohio Antisaloon League; and now that the heavier responsibilities of the business have been lifted from his shoulders he is giving more and more of his time and attention to sociological problems.—E. R. Root.Source:
The ABC of Bee Culture, page 438, 1903

Online Books by A.I. Root:

Root, A. I. (Amos Ives), 1839-1923: The ABC of Bee Culture: A Cyclopaedia of Everything Pertaining to the Care of the Honey-Bee: Bees, Honey, Hives, Implements, Honey-Plants, etc.; Facts Gleaned From the Experiences of Thousands of Bee Keepers All Over Our Land, Afterward Verified by Practice Work in Our Own Apiary (100th thousand; Medina, OH: A. I. Root Co., 1905)

More at: The Online Books Page – A.I. Root


Turkish Honey Baklava by Precious Little Toes


, , , , , ,

There are very few sweets as satisfying as a piece of baklava with a steaming cup of coffee. Many groups claim Baklava as their own.  It is widely believed that it is of Assyrian origin. Around approximately the 8th century B.C., Assyrians baked thin layers of dough with nuts, poured honey over it, and enjoyed this sumptuous treat. The history of Baklava changed with the history of the land. The Near and Middle East saw many civilizations come and go. Baklava and the recipe had spread to the Near East, Armenia, and Turkey. With the advent of the Grecian Empire, it spread westward to Greece. (Source)

That is why Baklava has many varieties, the traditional baklava is made with walnuts and in the southern with pecan and in the western with almonds. The Turks are known to famously make it with pistachios. I prefer pistachios and almonds in my Baklava.Today I’m sharing with you all, the easiest and yummiest homemade baklava recipe. The basic ingredients for baklava are nuts, phyllo pastry and syrup or honey. I bought the phyllo pastry from the supermarket. You can find it in the frozen foods aisle. I’ve used a mixture of almonds and pistachios for nuts and made a beautiful rose flavored honey syrup. This is one of those recipes that you cannot fail with and even if you try hard to do, the outcome no matter what is going to be absolutely delicious.

Get the recipe here: Turkish Honey Baklava — Precious Little Toes

Remembering Amos Root




This Sunday will be Amos Root’s birthday. What an interesting man. He was the Elon Musk of his day. ~sasafrasbeefarm

In Remembrance of Amos Root –

  • Birth: 9 DEC 1839 in Medina Township (Medina) State of Ohio
  • Death: 30 APR 1923 in Medina (Medina) State of Ohio
  • Burial: UNKNOWN Spring Grove Cemetery in Medina, Ohio

One Beekeeper, Two Wright Brothers

Source: One Beekeeper, Two Wright Brothers

One Beekeeper, Two Wright Brothers
Posted on September 14, 2016

Leave it to a beekeeper to make aviation history. An Ohio entrepreneur/beekeeper named Amos Root was, according to reports, the only person to actually witness the Wright brothers’ airplane flights in 1904 and 1905. And not just witness them, but write about them in a publication he founded called “Gleanings in Bee Culture.”

Root makes an appearance in David McCullough’s “The Wright Brothers” and also in an article on PBS’s Nova site. As the Nova site says, “almost as astonishing as the fact that a pair of bicycle shop owners invented the airplane” is that the first “accurate reporting on their earliest flights appeared” not in The New York Times or Scientific American, but in “an obscure journal for beekeepers.”

Root, a beekeeping hobbyist from his early twenties on, started a company in Medina, Ohio, that made beehives and beekeeping equipment. One of his best inventions was (improving ed.) removable frames so that a beekeeper could harvest honey without destroying the hive.

Root also started a candle-making company called Root Candles that is still in existence today. According to an article in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the company, which sits next to Amos Root’s old homestead in Medina, makes 20 million home décor candles every year. The company’s president is a great-great grandson of Amos.

Read full article here: Source: One Beekeeper, Two Wright Brothers

Comb Honey, Cheese, and Berry Platter by sassafrasbeefarm


, , ,

IMAG0013 (1)

Last night was our annual Bee Association’s Holiday Potluck dinner. I continued last year’s effort of a bee themed platter. This year I replaced the grapes with strawberries to provide more bee pollinated items on the platter. If you consider the cheese as dependent on bees for the cow’s forage then it was almost a home run.

Pictured above: Honey Goat Cheese with raspberry preserves, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cream cheese, comb honey.

It’s Time to Plan for Spring by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , ,


Red Maple – Harbinger of Spring

Sooner or later, if one stays in beekeeping, it becomes apparent that success is directly related to being proactive in one’s management of the bees rather than reactive. After all, this is exactly what the bees are doing. The bees never wait until the last minute to put up stores for winter. Nor do the bees wait until the day before the spring nectar flow to gather a full house of foraging bees to harvest nature’s bounty. Rather, the bees work months ahead to make sure they have everything needed to succeed. You too should follow their lead in preparing now for spring beekeeping if you want to have the best chance of success.

For short term goals I would direct you to the beekeeper’s calendar for your area which will guide you as to the tasks at hand for the immediate future. This article will discuss longer term goals.

Let’s consider some likely beekeeping for colonies here in the Midlands which you can work on during the coming months:

– Establish your goals for 2019
– Inventory your current assets
– Assess your needs (equipment mostly but may include outyards,personnel,etc.
– What knowledge will you need to be successful?
– Lay out your time management plan.


What can you do now to ensure your spring will be the best spring ever? Let’s start with considering your goals. Often, I have heard questions asked at monthly meetings that get the response, “Well, it depends.” Answering the question usually goes into what the beekeeper’s goals are. Are they making bees or honey? Do they want to grow their apiary or just manage a few hives for pollination? Are they hoping to produce enough honey to sell or do they want to make queens or nucleus hives for sale? What our management practices are depends directly on our goals. If you are planning a trip to California for almond pollination, you’ll start feeding pollen substitute in early January, but if you do that with colonies you are leaving here in the Midlands you may end up with your bees in trees before it’s warm enough to manage splits. So, before we begin, take some time to decide now what your beekeeping goals will be for 2019 – everything else hinges on this decision.

This time of year, with the reduction in time spent managing your colonies, is ideal to inventory your assets. Get out and inspect your supers, scrape frames, and make sure you have enough equipment to handle your spring goals. Write down your current inventory on paper or start a planning notebook. Later, as you begin to see the plan come into place, you be able to compare your list of current assets against your list of needed assets to accomplish your goal.


After you inventory your assets, write down your shopping list of equipment for ordering later. In addition to woodenware you may need lumber for hive stands, or other less obvious equipment like a new tire for your trailer. Making a list now will help you stay within budget. What’s important now is to develop the plan and determine what is needed. Wait until the plan firms up before ordering equipment as plans may change based on current assets, or other unexpected events which can come up during this planning stage.

Also included in the planning stage is thoroughly thinking through your plan. If it involves establishing out yards, have you located and secured permission for land use? If not then you may want to use any of several methods including the ‘stop and knock’ method, Google maps, or an ad in the local or state Market Bulletin.

Education may also be needed in the planning stage. If your goal is making increase you may want to order books or attend a local course on making splits and nucleus hives. Queen rearing may become something that you’ll have to consider. And if you are not ready for queen rearing, then making plans for purchasing queens to place in those splits if you hope to have them ready in time for spring sales. Purchasing queens would then become an item on your budget which may cause some changes to the original plans. Be flexible.

The idea here is considering all the implications of your plan. Hammer out the timeline now so that you can adjust early in the process. Once spring comes, you’ll be busy managing your bees, so time spent during these cold days planning is time well spent.


Once you’ve completed the assessment and planning portion of your spring preparations it’s time for implementation. Time to finally start the project. By now you have purchased the needed equipment, read up on aspects of your goals, and laid out a timeline for your tasks which includes consideration of the bees’ and nature’s timeline. Let’s get started!

Over winter, it’s time for equipment maintenance and to build boxes, frames, and other woodenware if needed. Also, you may need to visit potential out yards to determine suitability. If you are planning on renting colonies for pollination a pollination contract with dates and other particulars needs to be written and established with the farmer. Will you need more bees or queens? If so, make sure you get your orders in on time to reserve your bees. Also, make it a point to attend as many educational bee meetings as possible. You never known when someone will offer up that nugget of knowledge you’ve needed to hear that will save you a mistake in the future. The final part of implementation will be the actual harvest of the product, the sales of the honey or bees, or the pollination of the crops. Or perhaps the establishment of an out yard which will serve you in the future. As you work through implementation enjoy the process. It’s great fun to see a project come together step by step.

In closing, now is the time to make those plans for success next spring. Start daydreaming now, develop a viable plan, and implement your plan to ensure success next year no matter what your goals may be.


Honey Cucumber and Tomato Salad by Momoe’s Cupboard


, , , ,

Just a refreshing anytime salad that is quick and easy to make.  The secret to it is rice vinegar.  The cucumbers I used was end of the season large and full of seeds.  I seeded them and peeled them.  You can slice them the way you want. Add tomatoes cut in wedges and thinly sliced sweet onion.  I like to make the dressing and put my sliced onions in first and let them marinate for an hour.  Add cucumbers, tomatoes and parsley when ready to serve.

Full recipe here: Honey Cucumber and Tomato Salad — Momoe’s Cupboard

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for the month of December


, , ,


As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of December:


Hive checks this month are tied directly to outside temperatures. Do not disturb the brood chamber or break propolis seals around boxes unless absolutely necessary. On a warm day in the 60’s you may remove the inner cover briefly and view down between the frames. Try to not be too disruptive in order to allow them to get their house (brood box) in order for winter. Use of a stethoscope or an ear against the side of the hive will often tell you all is well inside.

1) Clean, paint, repair equipment, assemble new equipment, build more hive stands, make some of those time saver gadgets, and replace any bad equipment.

2) If you use a telescoping cover, lift the cover and note for wetness or mold indicating excess moisture within the hive. As needed, ventilate hives with a 1/8th inch crack at the front of the inner cover to prevent condensation and mold. Also, tilting the entire hive forward slightly with a shim placed under the hive, in the back, will allow condensation to run forward and down the front of the inside of the hive preventing it from dripping on the bees’ cluster.

3) December is an excellent month for selling honey.

4) Continue to assess stores, feed using a candy board or fondant as necessary. Continue to lift the back of your hives to check for weight. Now is why you learned this method of assessing stores.

5) Order packages, nucleus hives, or queens for delivery mid to late March or as early as possible for your area.

6) Review and evaluate how well your bee colonies performed this year and if necessary make decisions on how to improve your operation particularly regarding disease management and pest control such as Varroa mites, small hive beetles, and wax moths. Document your findings in your beekeeping journal.

7) Plan now for changes you’re going to impliment next season.

8) Call, visit, or write farmers or landowners where you’d like to place hives for out yards next spring.

9) Renew you membership in your local Beekeepers Association. Attend local meetings. Register for state Spring beekeeper’s conference.

10) Scout trees for placement and prepare swarms traps. Construct a swarm capture bucket.

11) Build a nucleus hive now to keep in your car or truck for community swarm captures next spring.

12) Order or ask Santa for a copy of that beekeeping book you’ve been wanting to read. Read some every day.

14) If, for some reason you have not yet treated for Varroa, this time of year presents the Midlands with as close to a broodless period as we get. A cheap, economical, quick and easy, method of Varroa treatment during this broodless period is the oxalic acid dribble. Read about how it’s performed here: Once a Year Opportunity to Save on Varroa Treatment


15) Celebrate Lorenzo Langstroth’s birthday on December 25.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.


The Honeybee and the Maple Tree by Rock Bridges Trees



The Honeybee and the Maple Tree have an interesting relationship. In the very early spring when the perfect combination of freezing nights and warm days allow, the maple tree runs sap. This process is what allowed the ancient Americans to learn to harvest maple sap to create Maple Syrup and Maple Sugar.

All of our North American maples produce a sweet sap in the spring. The Sugar Maple-Acer saccharum is the most famous. Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content and is the most efficient source for sap to make Maple Syrup. Red maples and Silver Maples are the other two large maple species that are most familiar to us and likely to produce sap for the bees.

Read the complete article here: The Honeybee and the Maple Tree — Rock Bridges Trees


Sticking with Propolis by PerfectBee


, ,

Ask a non-beekeeper what bees collect when they forage and you will probably hear of nectar and pollen. But few will mention propolis. Yet propolis is an essential material bees use to maintain and protect the hive.

To be factually accurate, bees don’t collect propolis. Instead, they create it inside the hive from other substances they have foraged.

Read the full article here: Sticking with Propolis — PerfectBee

Honey-walnut-almond cupcakes by The Lowland Homestead


, , , ,

These cupcakes might look plain, but they’re far from that! Cut up bits of walnut give a warm, earthy flavor and together with the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves it makes a great, wholesomely warm fall/winter dessert. These cupcakes retain a moist texture thanks to these walnuts and lend themselves well to being decorated creatively.

Begin by mixing all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the butter, when the butter is well mixed in, add the eggs and honey. Scoop them in muffin forms and bake at 180°C for 20 minutes. Mine are way too big for this recipe as you can see in the pictures, I used old-fashioned sized ones that weren’t suited to the muffin tin. Decorate as you wish. I mixed almond essence with honey and almonds. You can also decorate with whole walnuts.

Read the full recipe with ingredients here: Honey-walnut-almond cupcakes — The Lowland Homestead


Thank Bees for Your Thanksgiving Dinner by Married with Bees


, ,

Millions of Americans are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, and the grocery stores are bracing themselves for the onslaught of customers.  The fact that hundreds of millions of people in the US can eat a meal that consists of roughly the same menu on the same day is a miracle of modern agriculture as well as a testament to good supply chain management at that nations’ grocery stores.  Have you ever considered how your Thanksgiving meal is impacted by bees?  Many of your Thanksgiving favorites would not make it to the table without the pollination services provide by bees.

Let’s consider a typical Thanksgiving meal that consists of the following: turkey, stuffing, yeast rolls, green bean casserole, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie and coffee.  How would the menu be impacted if there were no bees?


Read the full article here: Thank Bees for Your Thanksgiving Dinner — Married with Bees

Happy Birthday Karl von Frisch


, , , , ,


By (Figure design: J. Tautz and M. Kleinhenz, Beegroup Würzburg.) – Chittka L: Dances as Windows into Insect Perception. PLoS Biol 2/7/2004: e216. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0020216, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1374858


FrischKarl Ritter von Frisch, (20 November 1886 – 12 June 1982) was an Austrian ethologist who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1973, along with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz.[2][3]

His work centered on investigations of the sensory perceptions of the honey bee and he was one of the first to translate the meaning of the waggle dance. His theory, described in his 1927 book Aus dem Leben der Bienen (translated into English as The Dancing Bees), was disputed by other scientists and greeted with skepticism at the time. Only much later was it shown to be an accurate theoretical analysis.[4]


The “waggle dance” is used to relay information about more distant food sources. In order to do this, the dancing bee moves forward a certain distance on the vertically hanging honeycomb in the hive, then traces a half circle to return to her starting point, whereupon the dance begins again. On the straight stretch, the bee “waggles” with her posterior. The direction of the straight stretch contains the information about the direction of the food source, the angle between the straight stretch and the vertical being precisely the angle which the direction of flight has to the position of the sun. The distance to the food source is relayed by the time taken to traverse the straight stretch, one second indicating a distance of approximately one kilometer (so the speed of the dance is inversely related to the actual distance). The other bees take in the information by keeping in close contact with the dancing bee and reconstructing its movements. They also receive information via their sense of smell about what is to be found at the food source (type of food, pollen, propolis, water) as well as its specific characteristics. The orientation functions so well that the bees can find a food source with the help of the waggle dance even if there are hindrances they must detour around like an intervening mountain.

As to a sense of hearing, Frisch could not identify this perceptive faculty, but it was assumed that vibrations could be sensed and used for communication during the waggle dance. Confirmation was later provided by Dr. Jürgen Tautz, a bee researcher at Würzburg University’s Biocenter.[11]

Source: Wikipedia

Online Book: The Dancing Bees by Karl von Frisch

Chicken Wings Marinated in Cranberry and Honey Sauce by Estonian Cuisine.


, , , ,

Sounds like a game changer for Saturdays. But only one tablespoon of honey? I don’t think so. ! ~sassafrasbeefarm

Chicken Wings Marinated in Cranberry and Honey Sauce

Delicious sweet and sour marinade from honey and cranberries softening tender poultry.

Horseradish gives a taste and flavour. Wonderful warming dish for autumn dinner.

Get the full recipe here:  Chicken Wings Marinated in Cranberry and Honey Sauce. Kanatiivad jõhvika- ja meemarinaadis — Estonian Cuisine. Eesti Toit.


Why Sherlock Holmes Retired And Became A Beekeeper by Buzz About Bees


You may have heard that Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes became a beekeeper when he retired.  But how do we know he took up beekeeping, and why did Sherlock become a beekeeper?  Below, you’ll find a quote from the book, and possible reasons why Sherlock Holmes decided to take up beekeeping as a hobby.

We are not given the specific reasons why Sherlock Holmes took up beekeeping and what lead him to this hobby, however, beekeeping seems a fitting hobby for the master sleuth!  Here are my suggestions:


Read the full blog article here: Sep 7, Why Sherlock Holmes Retired And Became A Beekeeper — Bees Blog from Buzz About Bees

Happy Birthday Everett Franklin Phillips


, , , ,

E.F. Phillips


Born November 14th, 1878

Died August 21st, 1951

From The Hive and the Honey Bee Book Collection at Cornell:

In 1925, a Cornell professor of apiculture named Everett Franklin Phillips set out to create a major repository of literature on bees and beekeeping. He envisioned this library as an “accessible storehouse of our knowledge of bees and beekeeping.” By 1926, Phillips had persuaded over 223 people from twenty-nine states and twenty-six foreign countries to donate thousands of books and pamphlets, and the E.F. Phillips Beekeeping Collection at Cornell was born.

Perhaps Phillips’ biggest coup was his ingenious plan for raising the money necessary for creating the library’s endowment: he convinced hundreds of New York state beekeepers to set aside one of their hives for the library. When a hive had raised $50 from honey sales, the beekeeper’s obligation was completed.

Seventy-five years after beekeepers helped Phillips create one of the world’s finest collections of books and journals in beekeeping, a new generation of apiculturalists is leading efforts to digitize major parts of that collection. The idea for The Hive and the Honeybee emerged following the 2002 conference of the Eastern Apiculture Society, which was held on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca . In the years since then, individual beekeepers and beekeeping organizations from around the country have contributed funding to make some of the greatest works from American authors on beekeeping available via the Internet. With this generous support, collaborating staff from the University of Delaware, Mississippi State University, Mary Washington College, the Finger Lakes Beekeeping Association, and Mann Library at Cornell University launched The Hive and the Honeybee site in the spring of 2004, offering to the public the full text of ten rare books from the Phillips Collection, chosen by a team of scholars for their historical importance and usefulness to beekeepers today.

Ongoing giving by American beekeepers has continued to expand the collection, and we are proud to announce that the Hive and the Honeybee today consists of the full text of over thirty books from the Phillips library as well as the first forty volumes of a landmark American publication, the American Bee Journal, an influential English language beekeeping journal read by scholars and practicing beekeepers and still being published today.

We hope that eventually The Hive and the Honeybee will contain every major pre-1925 beekeeping work in the English language. The texts in this digital collection are fully searchable, and will also become part of the Core Historical Literature of Agriculture (CHLA).

How fitting E.F. Phillips would find that beekeepers are again playing a central role in realizing a major new development for the Phillips collection. And how thrilled he and his original beekeeping collaborators would be to see the internet make a storehouse of beekeeping knowledge accessible to the world today.

Mann Library would like to extend special thanks to the Eastern Apiculture Society and Mike Griggs for providing the initial inspiration and funding to create The Hive and the Honeybee online library. We are equally grateful to the many generous beekeeping associations, extension agencies, and individuals across the United States –from Florida to Maine and New York to Washington State –who have provided funding for the continued development of this digital collection.

A downloadable bookmark showing the website address for The Hive and the Honeybee collection is available for desktop printing. To make a gift toward The Hive and the Honeybee please make your check payable to Cornell University and mail to Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University , Ithaca , NY 14850 . To find out more about supporting this growing collection, please contact Eveline Ferretti, Albert R. Mann Library (tel.: (607) 254-4993; email: ef15@cornell.edu).

Digital Books Available at: http://bees.library.cornell.edu/b/bees/browse.html

E,. F. Phillips Obituary: https://academic.oup.com/jee/article-abstract/45/6/1124/2205462/Everett-Franklin-Phillips-1878-1951?redirectedFrom=PDF

Honey Bee Genetics by PerfectBee



Most of us have heard of the importance of genes, how a mother and father each contribute their important element and so on. We accept, without question, that the mother contributes chromosomes from her egg and the father from his sperm. Much of the animal kingdom operates with these principles.

But that is not the case with honey bees.

Read the full article here: Honey Bee Genetics — PerfectBee

Egg-less Honey Cake Recipe by Malini’s Space


, , , ,

This cake is one of my favorites in school and college days, Most people in my friends circle used to love chocolate flavor, I was the one, who always wanted this flavor. I was that addicted to this so much. Sadly, nowadays when I go to the cake shop, I don’t find this cake, they have 100’s of other flavors, but not this. Fortunately, some small bakery shops still have this cake to save me. 🙂

That’s how, I really wanted to make this myself at home and treat me with strawberry and honey flavor, whenever I get the cravings. This one is very easy, just like other cakes, with simple extra two steps. Check below for detailed explanation with step by step pictures.

Read the full recipe with lots of pictures here: Egg-less Honey Cake Recipe — Malini’s Space

Henry David Thoreau Learns a Lesson From the Bees by New England Historical Society




Sept. 30, 1852, was a fine clear day, and Henry David Thoreau decided to go bee hunting. He ended up feeling richer for the experience, and not just because of the honey.

He was 35 years old, living in Concord, Mass., as the town’s principled eccentric. Two years earlier he had published A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, but it wasn’t a success. He had finished his sojourn in the woods, though he had yet to publish his masterpiece, Walden.

He had already spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax as a protest against slavery and the Mexican War. He was hiding escaped slaves in his family’s home and taking long walks in the surrounding woods and fields.

He recorded in great detail his observations of nature in his journal. On the day he went bee hunting, he described how he went with three friends in a wagon to Fair Haven Pond. They brought with them their bee-hunting apparatus: a small round tin box and a small wooden box.

At first they had no luck, as they couldn’t find flowers. The goldenrods were dried up and the asters were scarce. They tried the pond, a brook and a tree where Thoreau had found a bees’ nest that summer. No luck. And then,

Read the full article here: New England Historical Society

Beekeeping and Political Elections by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , ,



It seems a parallel exists between bees, bee yards, and Political Elections. The ebb and flow, rhythm, and normal fluctuations all fall within the big picture.

Beekeepers accept the growth of the bee yard during the spring. Things expand on their own with little or no help from the beekeeper. Most beekeepers assign that expansion a positive value but, in fact it’s neither positive nor negative – it’s just a direction. In the autumn there is a corresponding reduction of colonies and things change, again neither good nor bad – just change. Beekeepers learn over the years that flux is the norm and without the connotations our beliefs wish to assign to individual events. It is what it is, we merge with the changes – or we don’t and become angst ridden. But how do we get to an acceptance of the flux? One way I have learned to adapt to the flux is by taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture.

Some colonies thrive for a season and then unexpectedly go out with a mighty thud. Other never build up. Still others chug along fully average in every way. But regardless, all can expect to come and go with time. Another example is the notes I write on the tops of my hives. After some time passes my notes become meaningless. Sometimes I look at those notes and try to remember the urgency that inspired my note written last season. In the bigger picture of the bee yard, after the bees swarm and the new queen comes in with her genetics it’s only a short time before the bees of the former queen are gone having been replaced by a new queen and her offspring. A new queen brings her genetics yet in the big picture things simply continue. And so it goes on every organizational level. Changes take place in the bee yard with hives being moved, replaced, swarms captured, queens failing. It’s all birth, change, flux, and impermanence. That’s okay, it works out, the bees offer us the opportunity to learn to enjoy the variations within the journey.

Reading the book, The Buzz about Bees – Biology of a Superorganism by Jürgen Tautz, I am reminded that the changes above are both disruptive as well as beneficial to the species. The biological makeup changes and the fate of the species is strengthened by these disruptive events. However to see this as beneficial we must back up and look at what’s happening from a long term point of view. Short term we only see disruption, possible loss of a honey crop, colony, or other inconvenient situation for the bees and beekeeper. Taking the long term view however, we see that flux is key to a balancing taking place in the colony, the bee yard, and even the species itself.

Beekeepers are slow people; I mean that in a good way. We patiently look to spring, then we make plans for summer dearth, then fall nectar flows, and then we prepare for winter. We are both methodical and boring. While mostly dull, we are also reassured that all is as it should be and we remain excited with each predictable change of the season. We learn that change and disruption is normal, even beneficial, and not to be feared. It’s only disruptive in the short term but not if we consider the long term. How could it be otherwise?

So, the colony has been disrupted. The big picture is it’s seeking balance again – be patient! It’s neither good nor bad – it’s just what is. As we often say, “we do our part and the bees will work it out if we let them.” Maybe not today, nor tomorrow; maybe not this week or this month. If we are patient, in time we’ll see change that pleases us the bee yard next year. For now though, maybe we can sit down and think things through and come up with a plan to help things along next season. Regardless, the big picture is so much larger than we are that we struggle to fully see how change is beneficial to seeking balance. As humans in an inpatient world we struggle with concepts of time, change, and balance. Don’t be alarmed; everything in this world is subject to disruptions and change yet always seeks balance.

A Metaphysical Life by Bad Beekeeping Blog


, , ,

Happy Birthday Richard Taylor.

Richard Taylor (November 5, 1919 – October 30, 2003), born in Charlotte, Michigan, was an American philosopher renowned for his dry wit and his contributions to metaphysics. He was also an internationally known beekeeper.

Today is the  anniversary of the birth of one of my beekeeper-heroes, Professor Richard Taylor. He was an early champion of the round comb honey system, a commercial beekeeper with just 300 hives, and he was a philosopher who wrote the book on metaphysics. Really, he wrote the book on metaphysics – for decades, his college text Metaphysics introduced first-year philosophy students to the most fundamental aspect of reality – the nature of cosmology and the existence of all things.

Although his sport of philosophy was speculative, unprovable, and abstract to the highest degree, Richard Taylor was as common and down-to-earth as it’s possible to become. I will write about his philosophy and how it shaped his politics, but first, let’s celebrate his beekeeping.

Read the complete article at: A Metaphysical Life — Bad Beekeeping Blog


Honey Garlic Pork Chops by What’s for Dinner Moms?


, , , ,

This was such a simple dinner to make that it made me very happy. The kids happily ate it and we all sat around the table and talked. It was wonderful! I added buttered egg noodles with garlic and some brown beans to complete the meal. This is a recipe that is going back in our rotation.

Read the full recipe here: Honey Garlic Pork Chops — What’s for Dinner Moms?

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for November


, ,

As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of November:

Plan on checks once this month but otherwise do not work unless necessary to prevent the triggering of robbing behavior. Try to not be too disruptive in order to allow them to get their house (brood box) in order for winter.


1) Make sure bees have stores enough for winter and proceed accordingly. Last month we suggested aggressively feeding colonies that were underweight using 2:1 syrup. The goal was to increase their weight to approximately 30 – 35 lbs of stores. This month with the cooler weather we increasingly start to concern ourselves with excessive moisture in the hive. If your colonies are still lagging behind in stored nectar / syrup you may be forced to continue feeding 2:1 syrup. If they have stored enough syrup, later this month you may wish to add some insurance in the way of a candy board or mountain camp style dry sugar feeding.

2) Moisture containment becomes a major management concern this month as we move into cooler weather. Moisture within the hive can not be avoided. The bees breathe and, like humans, express humidity which condensates in the cooler weather. Additionally, the process of eating and metabolizing honey results in the release of water molecules. Important reading: A review of methods to control moisture within the hive can be found here.

3) Further reduce entrances if not yet done. The appropriate amount of reduction is what your bees can guard. Colder weather will result in the bees staying inside more and clustering. Lack of forage will also reduce their need for a larger entrance. You probably won’t see as many guard bees on your landing board. Rather than struggling with removing the current reducer, simply place a small piece of wood across the front of the current reducer to attain a smaller entrance. Addition of an upper entrance such as a notched inner cover is advisable prior to entering colder weather to allow for ventilation and allow moisture to escape. If the colony is small a piece of screen across the upper entrance will insure no unwanted guests have access.

4) Make repairs on your equipment, assemble new equipment, and make some of those time saver gadgets.  Replace any bad equipment.

5) November is an excellent month for selling honey as customers prepare for the holiday season.

6) Make plans to attend your association’s monthly meeting. Mark your calendar for the annual holiday dinner. Start hinting at what books or equipment you’d like this year for holiday gift giving. Start setting your goals for next season.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.

Telling the Bees


, , , , , , , , , ,



Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917) – Telling the Bees

Telling the Bees

The telling of the bees is a traditional English custom, in which bees would be told of important events in their keeper’s lives, such as births, marriages, or departures and returns in the household. The bees were most commonly told of deaths in their master’s family.

To inform the bees of a death their hive might be hung with a black cloth, while a “doleful tune” is sung. Another method of “telling the bees” would be for their master to approach the hive and knock gently upon it. The house key might also be used to knock on the hive. When the master of the house had the attention of the bees they would tell the bees the name of the person that had died.

Food and drink from a beekeeper’s funeral would also be left by the hive for the bees, including the funeral biscuits and wine. The hive would also be lifted a few inches and put down again at the same time as the coffin. The hive might also be rotated to face the funeral procession, and draped with mourning cloth.

A section from John Greenleaf Whittier‘s poem “Home Ballads” describes the practice:

Before them, under the garden wall,
Forward and back
Went, drearily singing, the chore-girl small,
Draping each hive with a shred of black.

Trembling, I listened; the summer sun
Had the chill of snow;
For I knew she was telling the bees of one
Gone on the journey we all must go!

“Stay at home, pretty bees, fly not hence!
Mistress Mary is dead and gone!”

Source and to read more: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telling_the_bees

Video animation of John Greenleaf Whittier via YouTube posted by poetryreincarnations

Video of Holland beekeeper telling the bees via Youtube posted by Historical Honeybee Articles


What’s the Price of Cheap Honey? by Married with Bees


, , ,

People love to ask questions when they find out that we started keeping bees.  One of the most common questions is, “When will you start selling honey?”  That question is usually followed by the comment, “Local honey is really expensive.  You can make a lot of money.”  In our part of the Midwest, local honey sells for anywhere between $8 and $12 for a 1 pound bottle, and those prices are typically set by hobby beekeepers who sell mostly at places like farmers markets.  If you read my previous blog post, you will know that hobby beekeepers aren’t getting rich on their honey.  The question that people should be asking is, “Why is the grocery store honey so cheap?”  The answer to that question will probably shock you.

Read the full article here: What’s the Price of Cheap Honey? — Married with Bees

Pan Fried Honey Bananas by In Dianes Kitchen


, , ,

Wait until you taste these all natural Pan Fried Honey Bananas! They are unbelievably easy to make and are sweetened naturally with honey then sprinkled with cinnamon. You could eat this for breakfast but for me it is more of a dessert or great snack.

Get the full recipe with pictures here: Pan Fried Honey Bananas — In Dianes Kitchen

Miracles by Walt Whitman


, , ,


Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—the
ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Walt Whitman, 1856

Miracles” was first published in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (Fowler & Wells, 1856) as “Poem of Perfect Miracles.”

Walter “Walt” Whitman, May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

Born in Huntington on Long Island, Whitman worked as a journalist, a teacher, a government clerk, and—in addition to publishing his poetry—was a volunteer nurse during the American Civil War. Early in his career, he also produced a temperance novel, Franklin Evans (1842). Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was first published in 1855 with his own money. The work was an attempt at reaching out to the common person with an American epic. He continued expanding and revising it until his death in 1892. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where his health further declined. When he died at age 72, his funeral became a public spectacle. ~Wikipedia

Video Music Credit: Comfort Zone by General Fuzz


Happy Birthday Julius Hoffman


, ,


Julius Robert Hoffman was born October 25th, 1838 at Grottkau in Silesia which was then part of Prussia. Today, Grottkau is Grodkow, in Poland. As a boy, he lived near Johannes Dzierzon so was able to learn beekeeping from him. In 1862, 24-year-old Julius emigrated to London and four years later moved to New York where he was employed in the organ and piano business, while still keeping a few hives.

julius hoffman

In 1873 he moved to Fort Plain in upstate New York to become a serious beekeeper, building up his apiary to some 700 colonies in the Canajoharie area of New York, where the dairy farms were plentiful and grew much alfalfa.

Until Hoffman devised his self-spacing frame, frames were spaced by eye, if at all, or by a range of often not very practical systems. This did not matter before motor transport existed as beekeepers did not move their hives. Large-scale beekeepers used a number of permanent apiaries with on-site or horse-drawn extracting equipment.

Julius Hoffman devised a frame side bar that was wider in its upper third to give the correct inter-comb spacing. The width of the side bar is reduced in its lower two thirds to allow bees to circulate round their combs. The end bars of the ‘close end’ Quinby frame were the full depth of the frame so it did not permit bee circulation and could easily be glued firmly in place by propolis.

When Al Root visited the Hoffman apiary in 1890 he saw the advantage of this frame at once and, by 1896, was using the Hoffman frame in all his apiaries.

Julius Hoffman died May 1, 1907 in Montgomery, New York, United States.

Text (edited) from: Bee Craft

How to send samples of adult bees to the USDA for diagnosis by InsideTheHive.TV


, , , , ,

This is the video number one of a series of videos about the honey bee diagnostic laboratory at USDA Beltsville Maryland. This video series will cover the main diagnostic procedures applied to bees sent to the lab for diagnosis.
In this video, Dr. Humberto Boncristiani and Sam Abban discuss the best procedure to send samples of Adult honey bees to the lab. It is very important to send the sample the right way to improve the quality of the service.

If you want to know more about this service provided by the laboratory check the link below.


via How to send samples of adult bees to the USDA for diagnosis — InsideTheHive.TV

The Fall Four by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , , , ,

pic 5

Here’s a repost from last year. I find it timely especially for those new at keeping bees. ~sassafrasbeefarm

I find myself digging ever deeper into the void of my beekeeping knowledge. It seems the more you think you know, the more you realize you don’t know enough. That said, I’m forced into at least assessing the current state of affairs in the bee yard and make decisions based on my ever increasing level of uncertainty about these things.

It seems that I keep reading here and there that the two biggest killers of honey bees are mites and starvation. More recently I saw a third reason suggested, that being winter moisture in the hive. And then let’s not forget about problems resulting from excessive internal hive space. Let’s call these threats to beekeeping the Fall Four. So, with these things in mind, let’s visit the bee yard and see what’s happening.

It’s now October and crunch time for assessing the Fall Four. Hopefully you survived the summer dearth period. Some of my friends fed their bees through the dearth and others allowed their bees to eat their stores – either method works. But now is the time to take on the Fall Four and look at each item and make it right prior to the coming cooler weather. Remember, honey bees are cold blooded animals and anything less than ideal brood nest temperature, in the low nineties, is likely to be stressing. And although the cool weather will soon start, we’ve still got a long way to go as well as times we can’t enter the hives or use certain interventions. So, this time of year we’re all beekeeping preppers.

pic 2

Item #1 is Mites. I’ve lost one colony to mites this year. It crashed with a mighty thud. Within three to four weeks it went from absolutely thriving to a handful of struggling bees. The weather was warmer then so I continued to see bees coming and going. If a mite crash was to happen now, with these cooler days, I’d probably see no bee traffic as it would take all of the sickly remaining bees to heat the brood area, queen, and cluster. Luckily I’m currently seeing traffic by late mornings on all my hives. A friend of mine told me the other day that he considers a colony dying by mites to be similar to the flu running through a dormitory – one day all are fine, but within days everyone is bedridden. It’s not the mite itself that kills but the viri it spreads. Just like the flu, when the right virus coincides with the right opportunity it’s off to the races. So, pardon my rambling, but have you checked for mites lately? That doesn’t mean look at your bees and try to find mites. It means place a sticky board underneath, ether roll, or sugar shake and count mites and treat accordingly. Recently I’ve been reading about the need to treat all hives when mites levels are high in any hive in an apiary. It seems a failing colony getting robbed out is itself a vector for transmission of mites within an apiary. Personally, I’ve decided this year to treat using Oxalic Acid. Given it is an organic acid and apparently works by eroding the mites finer anatomical parts, the mites are not able to build a tolerance or immunity over time. With all colonies looking healthy right now, my plan is to wait until the broodless period around Thanksgiving and treat all of my colonies simultaneously.

pic 3

Item #2 is Starvation. I placed my colonies on a maintenance level of feeding when dearth started. I had a plan to reassess stores at the start of October but then the Flood of 2015 came and plans were dashed. By the time I got into my hives several things indicated it was time to step up my feeding program – two weeks of rain, lack of fall foraging, and bees stuck inside eating their stores. My current goal is to get the hives heavy as soon as possible. That’s going to mean switching to a 2:1 sugar syrup to encourage storage while not stimulating brood rearing. I know from my recent inspections (after the flood) that the queens have already decreased egg laying. I don’t know if that’s because nothing was coming in during those long, wet weeks or because the days are getting shorter. Doesn’t matter though, my response is the same – feed ’em up good now. Now is the time to learn to pick up your hives from behind to determine their weight. That way, during the dead of winter you can assess stores without opening them.

pic 4

Item #3 is Moisture. I’ve heard and read many times that moisture kills bees before cold temperatures kill bees. I’ve watched the YouTube videos showing beekeepers in the mountains of Virginia, upstate New York, and Vermont with snow piled high around their hives – and their bees survive just fine. I think that is proof enough that bees can survive the temperatures of a South Carolina winter. But moisture, that’s a different matter. Almost every winter I see moisture inside the outer covers on chilly days. If not controlled that condensation starts to mold – not good. The old books talk about installing your hives tilted forward so condensation will run forward and not drip down directly onto the bees and chill them. That’s good but I really want to do more. For one, reducing the syrup to a 2:1 mix this time of year also helps to start reducing the amount of moisture within the hive. A little later in the Fall, I’ll remove all liquid feed and place a feeding shim with dry sugar on top. Some people simply pour dry sugar on top of a piece of paper placed on the top bars or on the inner cover (Mountain Camp Feeding). The sugar acts as a desiccant and absorbs the humidity. The bees feed on any sugar that the condensation liquifies. It’s a two birds with one stone situation. But the best method to solving the moisture problem is adequate ventilation. My inner covers have an upper entrance cut into them. If the colony’s population is robust I just leave the upper entrance open as during summer. If the bees have decreased in numbers I may flip the slot so that it is on the top of the inner cover, or screen it, to prevent intruders while still providing ventilation. I don’t worry so much about the low temperatures unless it’s also really windy for extended periods; I do worry about that wet, damp chill that comes with too much moisture in the hive.

pic 5

Item #4 is Internal Hive Space. Now is certainly a good time to assess hive (i.e boxes) volume. Most colonies grow throughout the nectar flow. If you were lucky you had the pleasure of stacking boxes on top of boxes – the uppermost boxes filled and capped with hoarded stores of honey. After the great flood, I was surprised to see that the bees had eaten a good bit of their stores. Other colonies had decided to eat some frames and leave others capped and untouched. Also, some colonies started their reduction in colony size early and are now down to half of the numbers of bees they had during the flow. Either way, they simply do not need the extra space any longer. My mentors have told me that here in the Midlands a hive with a 10 frame deep and a 10 frame medium, well provisioned, is all that is needed to get through winter until about late February. (two deeps or three mediums are also okay and represent about the same volume.) So, I look to consolidate remaining honey frames into as perfect of a second box as possible giving the bees a well stocked pantry above their brood area. Any extra full frames are placed in the freezer for possible use in late winter/early spring during buildup. I take a similar approach with regard to colonies that have reduced their numbers. I give them just enough room to be cozy and remove extra boxes (remember extra boxes are invitations to hive beetles and wax moths and require patrolling by your bees). The idea is to turn hives into efficient and compact units going into late fall and winter.

As already stated, I know more and more that I know less and less about bees. I’m sure that the way I am approaching this can be done a thousand different ways. That’s the intrigue of beekeeping. It’s an art and your methods are equally as valid. What works for you may be superior to what works for me. So take my observations and methods as incentive to explore, experiment, and tweak to your own situation. It’s all an adventure.

Honey Jalapeno Dip by The Honey Cottage


, , ,

One of our favorite things about fall is; FOOTBALL!!! There is nothing more thrilling then hanging out and watching the game with friends and family! One of our favorite dips to eat when we are watching the game is Honey Jalapeno dip. This is perfect to serve with crackers, chips, and vegetable trays. We even like spreading on our sub sandwiches. Hope you enjoy it this dip as much as we do!


1 cup of sweet potato

8 ounces of cream cheese

1 1/2Tbsp of Jalapeno

1 1/2Tbsp of green chili

½ Tbsp of Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp of honey

½ -¾ cup crushed pecans

Read the full recipe here: Honey Jalapeno Dip — The Honey Cottage

Book Review – The Sting of the Wild by Justin O. Schmidt by Vishy’s Blog


, ,

‘The Sting of the Wild‘ is about stinging insects. In the first part of the book which runs into five chapters, Schmidt gives us an introduction to stinging insects and talks about how their stinging capability might have evolved from an evolutionary perspective. In the second part of the book, Schmidt focuses on individual insects, talks about their life histories and their lifestyles, their relationships with humans and other animals from the animal kingdom, how they use their sting and how sharp and painful their sting can be. He creates a four-level sting-pain scale and tries to rate each insect’s sting using this scale. Some of the insects which are featured in the second part of the book are sweat bees, ants of different types including fireants, harvester ants and bullet ants, wasps of different types including yellow jackets, tarantula hawks, mud daubers and velvet ants, and of course everyone’s favourite, the honey bee.


Read the full article here: Book Review – The Sting of the Wild by Justin O. Schmidt — Vishy’s Blog


How Can We Bee … Helpful? by A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!


, , , , , , ,

It’s not rocket science it’s just awareness – simplicity itself – what would you rather Bee Dead or Bee Alive – personally l think l would prefer living bees to dead bees and the bees probably agree with me!

“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.”
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

How BEE friendly are you? With Spring just literally on our doorstep now, although even l have to concede at times that in the UK alone, it appears that Mother Nature has withdrawn it … our bees are back into their daily routines. The garden l have here, is not a gardeners’ delight, we have wild herbs growing next to wild flowers, and very soon we shall be planting out our seasons’ rotation for vegetable growing. I tend to like to see more ‘weeds’ and don’t see them as such but more as flowers in the wrong place, it sounds kinder that way.

Plant more BEE friendly flowers and flowering herbs in your garden – With the loss of nesting and foraging habitat due to intensive monocultural agricultural practices and the ever increasing and rising suburbanization driven society pressures demanding more housing – natural landscapes are fast disappearing. You can alter things by planting flowers into your garden. Plant bloom heavy as Bees love forage volume and plant for the seasons that the pollinators are most active – as in early spring to late summer. Plan your flowering crops effectively;

Read the full article with lots of wonderful photos here: How Can We Bee … Helpful? — A Guy Called Bloke and K9 Doodlepip!

It Always Starts with Assessment by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , , ,


Ever wonder why beekeepers are either reluctant to give advice OR you end up with multiple suggestions in response to the same question?

One reason is because seldom does the beekeeper being asked have a full picture of the issue being discussed. The problem and visual is clear enough in the mind of the person asking the question but usually their assessment isn’t clearly presented to the mentor or bee buddy. So what often happens is the mentor steers clear of guessing to avoid giving bad advice OR they venture a guess based on inadequate data. Since it is inadequate data it isn’t too difficult to wonder why multiple answers are sometimes suggested.

Good assessment data increases the odds of getting accurate suggestions.

So, as above, it always starts with Assessment.

APIE – Assessment, Planning, Implimentation, Evaluation

I worked in a hospital setting much of my work career. When it came to people’s lives I didn’t guess before administering treatments, care, medications, or interventions. I either was assured of my initial assessment or I stopped and re-assessed before proceeding further.

Measure twice; cut once! Well, sort of…

Of course beekeeping doesn’t quite have the same level of accountability and errors are not as devastating as in healthcare. However, the same methods can be applied which, if followed, should result in better outcomes for the bees and beekeeper. Until one Assesses how can they make a suitable Plan? And how do I decide on the proper Implimentation until a Plan is developed? And if I am to learn anything at all in this process I must Evaluate my results. Otherwise I make the same mistakes over and over, year after year, never understanding why.

But, again, it all starts with Assessment.

A Google search will yield many assessment sheets and data collection tools. Use them especially when first starting with bees. At some point it’s likely they will become second nature. And by second nature I mean you’ll do them without the need for prompting with a piece of paper. Let’s look a some things you may want to consider with regard to Assessment:

It’s easy – look, listen, smell! Touch and taste – not so much…

Approaching the hive:
Are they flying? Is the temperature such that they should be flying? Are they guarding the entrance? If not ask yourself, why not? Is the exterior of the hive marked up with bee poop? Are there dead larvae on the landing board? Dead bees? If so, was there a cold snap or is it appropriate cleansing, chilled brood, drone evictions? Are some hives flying and others not? Are there bees circling any hives looking for entrances? Are there bees fighting on the landing board? Are the foraging bees launching themselves into the air on departure? Are bees coming back to the hive heavy or with pollen? Are there yellow jackets, flies, or other pests hanging around the entrance? Do I have an appropriate entrance guard on based on the bees ability to guard? Any signs of dead bees in front of the hive? Any signs of wax cappings under the hive? Any moth or spider webs? Isn’t this easy – you haven’t even suited up yet!

Entering the hive:
What’s your idea on weight when you lift the hive from the rear? Is the number of boxes as expected for the time of year and history of the colony? What is the reaction to a puff of smoke at the entrance? What is the reaction to removing the inner cover? What does the hive smell like? Are there SHB inside the inner cover? Any sign of other pests? Is either the bottom or top box empty of bees? Do the bees run down between the frames when you give them a gentle puff of smoke or fly away? Are they unusually testy? Does what you are seeing, smelling, hearing correspond correctly with the season and temperatures? Does the top bars of the uppermost box have an appropriate amount of bees on them? Is there burr comb on the inner cover?

Frame examination:
Is there a well defined brood area? Where is it located within the hive (upper boxes? bottom boxes? chimney?) Is the capped brood density appropriate or spotty? Any cappings perforated? Appropriate worker brood to drone ratio? Is there a band of pollen over the brood and honey above that? Can you locate the queen either by sight or based on brood area? Is she where you want her? As you work, is the colony tolerating you? Are they giving you a roar to leave? Any signs of pests? If so how bad is the pest level? Any signs of PMS? Is the size of the colony in bee population appropriate for the number of boxes you have? What is your impression of the bee density and the number of frames covered with bees? Can they guard the amount of comb space you have given them to guard? Is there adequate stores? white wax? good brood pattern? Is the open larvae swimming in food? Is the hive functioning as a fine tuned machine?

And always, the follow-up question to the unexpected is, “Why?”

And so it goes with many many more questions that sometimes have different answers based on temperature, weather, seasons, bloom, dearth, and so forth. But it costs you nothing to ask these questions of yourself. Ask away and take note of your answers. And when the answers don’t add up to what you expect, are out of sync with season, or other hives, or just not what you expect look further for more questions to ask. Be the detective. Re-interview the witnesses and suspects. Get to know them well enough to spot the odd response or presentation.

If you think this is going to take years, you may be right. But I do think we get a little better every year. Keep asking questions of yourself and the bees until you see patterns and you know what follows various presentations.


Honey Pickles by The Ephemeral Bee


, , , ,

I found a recipe for Honey Bread and Butter Pickles in Canning for a New Generation and decided to give it a try.  I’m reluctant to continue to call these pickles bread and butter pickles since they’re missing one of the key components I generally associate with bread and butter pickles – the sweetness factor.  I actually doubled the amount of honey called for in the recipe.  They were still not what I would consider sweet, and I tend to have a fairly low tolerance for sweet.  The recipe still turned out a wonderful pickle, it’s slightly different from a traditional dill, and has the additional bonus of not containing any cane sugar.  I also didn’t bother with canning these pickles, although, this recipe is perfect for canning if you want to put in the extra work.  I simply decided to save some time and store then in the refrigerator for up to a month, and gift a few jars.

via Honey Pickles — The Ephemeral Bee

The Bees do Most of the Work by sassafrasbeefarm


, , ,


On presenting honey for judging:

What are we except packers of the bees’ hard work? I don’t select the flowers to visit. Nor do I cure the nectar into honey; nor combat pests or robbers.  I do nothing as a member of their society. Aside from caring for the bees to enable them to do their work as they choose, I am merely the packer of their efforts. And so, I will do it with reverence and effort respectful of the work they gave to me. If that effort results in a ribbon then I’ve done my job to take what they gave and present it to others at its best. Yes, it’s fluff and not reflective of the best beekeeper out there. It’s extra for those that look for yet another activity related to their beekeeping. Hopefully my effort sparks some interest in others to look at the miracle the bees provide.


Musings on Minimalist Beehive Management by Tom Hebert


, , ,

Musings 312

How much intervention in the hive is enough? Some beekeepers do lots of management, entering their hives at least weekly, if not more. Others are minimalists with little or no inspections. Every beekeeper has their own unique situation that dictates their management.

In their zealousness, some new beekeepers always want to get into their hives to see what is happening. They are overly enthusiastic with this new endeavor and want to do inspections a couple times a week. And then there are other beekeepers who do minimalist management, letting the bees do what they know how to do with infrequent intervention. And sometimes it becomes very infrequent or even nonexistent.

So, is more management better? Is less acceptable? My guess is many beekeepers will say there’s a point when the beekeeper will overdo their inspections. But this debate could also be about whether the beekeeper does not do enough inspections.

I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to the management of my top bar hives. Often, I put little effort into checking them and managing them. It sometimes reaches the point where a person can consider me more of a bee-haver instead of beekeeper. I don’t even touch some of hives except to harvest them.

For example, one of my apiaries is in the mountains of Honduras on a coffee farm. I don’t get up there very frequently. The last hives in the line get the least attention. Time runs out and the truck is ready to take the workers back down to town. This is a Saturday and they work only until noon. I must go with it (or take a couple hours and walk down the mountain which is not likely after spending all morning in the hives). These are the hives that I only enter to harvest.

But minimal management works for me in my situation. I want honey from them but I don’t do beekeeping as my primary income source. I’m an elementary school teacher and bees have become a secondary income (unfortunately). They give me what they want for effort I put into their management. I accept that and I’m grateful for it.

Read the full article with lots of great pictures here: Musings on Beekeeping


Can a Hobby Beekeeper Make a Profit? by Married with Bees


, , ,

Good article and yes, my bees pay their way here too. The author makes an important point in closing that one must have a love for the bee primarily and any financial gain an added bonus. ~sassafrasbeefarm

Recently I met a friend for lunch, and over sandwiches she inquired about our honey bees.  I love talking about our bees, and she is a good friend who indulges me.  After I provided a status update she asked, “Are you making money yet?”  Her direct question caught me off guard.  Most people ask us when we will have honey available, and I think my friend was curious to know if our colonies had reached a point where we could harvest honey for sale.  Doug and I are first year beekeepers, so we are letting the bees have all the honey this year to get them through the winter.  Nevertheless, my friend’s question made me wonder if hobby beekeepers could make a profit from their bees.

Doug and I became beekeepers because we find bees fascinating.  We like learning about bees and talking about bees and taking care of them.  I also wanted to increase the output in my vegetable garden.  Neither one of us eat that much honey, and we never considered keeping bees for the purpose of generating income.  First year beekeepers spend money but don’t make money.  However, subsequent years may bring opportunities to actually earn some revenue.  Therefore, I decided to make a very rough estimate to see if it is possible for a hobby beekeeper to be profitable.  As the saying goes, this is a back of the envelope calculation.

Read the full article here: Can a Hobby Beekeeper Make a Profit? — Married with Bees

Autumn Abscondings and Other Odd Events by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , , , , , ,

small swarm

(above) Small October cluster on bluebird box. Collected after the flood of 2015 – swarm or abscond?

Late summer and autumn swarming does occur but is an exception and probably occurs only in unique situations. Biology says when the parent hive is ripe for reproduction and all conditions are met the goal is to swarm. Queens that fail to reduce laying during dearth, well fed colonies, with the addition of a brief nectar and pollen flow may indeed swarm during this time of year. Inspect overachieving hives and disrupt the colony by adding empty drawn comb, sharing excess  brood with weaker hives, or  taking off excess honey stores. This makes the parent hive less than ready and disrupts their plans. Only after all conditions are met will they swarm and if nature or the beekeeper gives them work to do at home they will typically stay. In general, however, this time of year it’s hard for them to feel that conditions are optimal for swarming.

What we saw last year was an apparent increase in abscondings or colony failures where all of the bees left the hive and did not return. Abscondings are typically related to poor conditions in the hive or environment. i.e. starvation, drought, mites, SHB, yellow jackets, critters. Historically these were termed “hunger swarms” but may occur with or without food being present. I like to think of the conditions that precipitate abscondings as stress related. Think of it this way, if your house was overrun with fleas you might stay a while but eventually you’d gather your family up and say, “I’m not sure where we’re going but we’re not staying here.” Same for food; if you lost your income, no job prospects, and had no cash flow for food eventually you’d say, “I don’t know if I can get a job in Timbuktu but I know there are no jobs here so we’re moving.”

How are swarms and abscondings different?

Swarms are generally reproductive in nature and motivated by the organism’s innate drive to reproduce as a result of positive and plentiful stimuli. This is why they usually occur slightly before and at the start of the main nectar flow when resources are at their highest. This gives the swarm the greatest chance of survival. Late season swarms are probably generated by the occasional but less likely situation where the hive is simply full of stores, lacks room for expansion, yet is being stimulated with brief fall pollen and nectar flows. It’s a bad time for them to swarm and in all probability will not have a positive outcome for the issuing swarm.

Abscondings are different in that most of the bees in the hive will leave. It’s like one day they decide they’ve had enough of the poor conditions (stressors) and decide to leave. Unlike a swarm, it is precipitated by negative stressors. The beekeeper comes to the bee yard and finds the hive almost empty. The bees inside are usually bees that were left behind due to being out foraging at the time of the absconding or they are new hatch outs. If there is little capped brood you can assume they have been stressed for some time – scant brood decreases the attractiveness of the bees to the colony.

After last year’s events most beekeepers remarked that they never saw a cluster hanging in a tree nor any new colonies in swarm traps. One possibility is usurpation. Usurpation is when one colony forces its way into another hive and takes over. Apis mellifera scutellata is rather noted for its tendency to usurp calmer races of honey bees. One author promotes the idea that usurpation is more common than we think. The event goes unnoticed as there is no clustered swarm and the landing is not in a tree limb or swarm trap but another hive in the bee yard where they take over operations. Actually, as a survival mechanism, this is quite clever whereby a colony over run with stressors during a time of poor nectar production can unite with another weaker colony and increase its chances of survival.

What about the queen? That may be the $64,000 question. Colony Collapse Disorder symptoms where the queen and a few bees are all that’s left behind continues to mystify many researchers. I’m not going to say I have the answer that the researchers have yet to answer. It is a mystery. But I will say that it’s no mystery that the queen isn’t the only card in the game when it comes to honey bee behavior. Most beekeepers, after a few years in the hives, understand other powers at play within the colony like lack of brood pheromone, population balance, and the host of chemical pheromone balances that signal wellbeing or decline. Leaving without a queen is typically viewed as colony suicide, but as we have already covered above, usurpation might provide an answer to why one colony might leave a failing queen behind.

Another answer proposed to account for the events experienced last year is that the bees died while foraging or failed to return home. While this may be possible, it does not account for the lack of thousands of nurse bees that should have never left the confines of the hive.

In closing, I’m not offering any single cause to what you hopefully will not see this autumn in your bee yard. Last year, here in the Midlands as well as elsewhere, we witnessed multiple accounts of bees absconding. Almost no one saw a cluster hanging in a tree, captured a swarm, or otherwise accounted for the missing bees. We know many of these events were recounted by the beekeeper as having occurred within the course of a week. Forty thousand bees one weekend; two hundred the next weekend. Stressors last year included exceptionally high heat during dearth period, approximately half of normal rainfall, and of course the ever present Varroa mite.

We did an impromptu survey to see if a particular cause could be identified. However, no single cause was identified. In some instances it appeared to be related to mites, in other instances, poor forage or lack of feeding, the much higher than normal temperatures experienced, and/or a rainfall approximately half of typical for our area. Conversely, our survey data showed that those that offered their bees more supportive measures had fewer or no abscondings. Respondents with no abscondings had higher reporting for feeding during the dearth period, treatment for Varroa, availability of water, and overall higher supportive management of their colonies. This would seem to indicate that while no specific stressor could be implicated, a lowering of the stress level by increased supportive management reduced colony abscondings.

Beekeeping a Rewarding Hobby by Work | Play | Life


I clearly remember the first scary time I stuck my hand into the screened cage holding my first hive of 10,000 honeybees. Like most people, my reflexive response is to give bees and other summer stingers a wide berth. Up until that moment, beekeeping was just a concept. Now, I had my bees and, if I was going to give it a go, I had to reach into the cage (with a gloved hand) to remove the queen. This was my real introduction to beekeeping.

Beekeeping and gardening go naturally together. Squash, cucumbers, apples, melons and strawberries are just a handful of the many crops that rely on bee pollination. And then there’s the honey. A single, healthy hive can yield 50 to 100 pounds of this sweet, golden elixir.

Read the full article here: Beekeeping a Rewarding Hobby — Work | Play | Life

Caramelized Korean Beef with Kimchi Fried Rice by GloryBee


, , , , ,

Buckwheat Honey is our central ingredient for this recipe. While some may question our choice of honey on this recipe, we picked it because Buckwheat Honey is known for its depth of flavor. You can use Buckwheat Honey for all sorts of savory recipes and we think this is a great fit! Enjoy!

Read the full recipe here:  Caramelized Korean Beef with Kimchi Fried Rice — GloryBee

Fall Nectar Flow by sassafrasbeefarm


, , , , ,

The Fall flow is officially on in my corner of Southeastern Lexington County, South Carolina. Weight gain, white wax, and increased activity indicate a nectar flow. I went out to feed some of the lighter hives and noticed some white wax as well as some weight gain on hives since 10 days ago. As the day warmed the bees were definitely flying with intent with some congestion on the landing boards. Even with the lack of rainfall, fall flow is on over here in the barren sand hills of Southeastern Lexington County. If it’s on here in this sandbox it’s likely you may find it’s on elsewhere in the Midlands. Bees flying with intent, launching themselves off the landing board immediately after exiting the hive entrance, increased incoming traffic as well landing and hurrying inside, other bees show excited behavior on the landing board, overall appearance of heightened purposeful activity, some white wax noted inside, the smell of goldenrod and sight of yellow pollen coming in.

It was a happy day indeed to be able to save some of that syrup until another day. I found a renewed interest in the pollen feeder which baffles me a little but may be a result of some increased brood rearing… I don’t know. All these things are a pleasant change from the doldrums of dearth. Pray for some rain to sustain the flow. Order up – winter bees please.

The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend. by Berks County PA Honey Bee Removal


, , , ,

About this time of year, for the past several years, most of my honeybee colonies would be fending off hundreds of yellow jackets daily. They also would deal with the occasional baldfaced hornet, but to a much lesser extent. This year however (so far), I have witnessed a grand total of 2 yellow jackets, and 2 baldfaced hornets attempting to harass my bees.

So why the picture of my topbar hive full of European hornets? It was back in May that I noticed a single, huge mother hornet enter my empty topbar hive. I looked through the viewing window to see an adorable little paper cone about the size of a silver dollar hanging from a bar. I was preparing to go in and smoosh it, along with mamma when I thought to spend a minute researching these things. I decided to leave it be, and if it got out of hand, then I’d kill it. It never really did get out of hand in my opinion, and it has been as interesting to observe as any other social insect colony.

Read the full article and follow some links to videos here: The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend. — Berks County PA Honey Bee Removal 19601

For Good of the Colony, Sick Honey Bee Brood Sounds the Alarm By Kaira Wagoner, Ph.D.


, , , ,

Pollinator health is a top priority these days, and everyone seems to be asking, “What can be done to save the bees?” Since most of the current challenges to pollinator health can be attributed to humans, there are several things we can do, from restoring pollinator habitat by planting pollinator-friendly natives to curbing our use of harmful pesticides.

This work is both ecologically and economically important, as honey bees are the most agriculturally important pollinator worldwide, contributing over $15 billion to annual crop yields in the United States alone. But honey bees have flourished on Earth for over 100 million years, so perhaps it is also worth asking, “What can honey bees do to help themselves?”

As social insects, closely related honey bees live in crowded colonies with frequent physical contact, a recipe for the rapid spread of parasites and pathogens. As a result, honey bees have evolved some fascinating social immune mechanisms, which help mitigate the spread of disease between sisters in a bustling colony. One such immune mechanism is “hygienic behavior,” the ability of adult bees to detect and remove unhealthy brood from the colony. By sacrificing a few unhealthy young, the overall health of the colony, and thus the probability of colony survival, is improved.

Read the fill article here: For Good of the Colony, Sick Honey Bee Brood Sounds the Alarm — Entomology Today

Environmentalist Scare Stories – Never Mind! by peoples trust toronto


, ,

“Baby boomers” will remember Gilder Radner’s Saturday Night Live character from the ‘70s – Emily Litella, who would launch into hilarious rants against perceived problems, only to discover that she had completely misconstrued what she was fuming about.

“What’s all this fuss about endangered feces?” she asked in one. “How can you possibly run out of such a thing?” Then, after Jane Curtain interrupted to tell her “It’s endangered species,” she meekly responded with what became the iconic denouement of the era: “Ohhhh. Never mind.”

The Sierra Club and “invertebrate-protecting” Xerces Society recently had their own Emily Litella moment, over an issue they both have been hyperventilating about for years: endangered bees. For over half a decade, both organizations have been raising alarms about the imminent extinction of honeybees and, more recently, wild bees – allegedly due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

These are advanced-technology crop protection compounds, originally developed and registered as “reduced-risk” pesticides. Applied mostly as seed treatments, neonicotinoids get taken up into the tissue of crop plants, where they control pests that feed on and destroy the crops, while minimizing insecticide exposure to animals, humans and beneficial species like bees.

But not according to the Sierra Club! It campaigned incessantly for years on the claim that neonicotinoids would drive honeybees into extinction. For instance, in March 2015 the Sierra Club of Canada launched a nationwide “Protect the Pollinators Tour,” as part of its #SaveTheBees project.

“Ironically, the justification for this chemical madness is the same desire to produce enough food to feed everyone,” it said. “The chemical industry wants us to believe we have no choice; it’s their way or the highway. But the science tells us otherwise – that farmers don’t need these chemicals at all! The science also tells us we’re not just killing bees and pollinators, but other insects too. And we’re also killing birds and aquatic life. The scientists tell us we could be creating a Second Silent Spring. It’s madness.

Read the entire article here:  Environmentalist Scare Stories – Never Mind! — peoples trust toronto

Midlands Beekeeping Calendar for October


, , , ,

As always, All beekeeping is local. Here’s my offering for the beekeeping calendar for the South Carolina Midlands for the month of October:

Plan on checks twice this month but otherwise do not work unless necessary to prevent the triggering of robbing behavior. Try to not be too disruptive in order to allow them to get their house (brood box) in order for winter.

If you have not yet treated for varroa it’s important that this is done before your winter bees are exposed to the smorgasbord of viruses that varroa transmits when it feeds. Also, it’s not sufficient to just treat. You also need to have some idea that the treatment was effective in reducing the numbers of varroa in the colony.

Expect the break in the weather to occur during mid-October. Local legend has it that the State Fair brings autumn to the Midlands. Looking forward, our average date for first frost is the last week in October and the first freeze the first week of November. That said, the bees still have plenty of flying days ahead before winter.

Notice goldenrod and asters along the roadways. Kudzu will also provide forage if available in your area.


1) Remove fall flow honey if appropriate. In my few years of beekeeping I have never had enough of a fall nectar flow to take honey. However, I have had colonies that were so large at the end of the spring flow that I was unable to reduce their cavity size to winter configuration until October. When this happens I am usually pleasantly surprised to be able to take some surplus frames from the bees, still leaving them enough for winter. Remember if you treated for Varroa using a product that affects the honey you will not be able to eat this honey but the bees will be happy to get it back in late winter / early spring.

2) Process supers and store for winter. After any extracting your options for cleaning the sticky frames are to either place the supers back on the hive or place them out in the yard for clean-up. If placed out in yard expect some comb tearing as the bees rob the supers of leftover honey. I am lucky that I do not have neighbors close and can separate the sticky supers from the bee yard by 100 yards or more. If you don’t have these options don’t leave sticky supers out where they can create a nuisance for your neighbors and cause a feeding frenzy spreading to your weaker hives. Instead consider simply placing them back on the hive and your bees will do the work of cleaning the supers and placing the leftover honey in the boxes below. Remove the cleaned supers in a few days returning your hives to winter configuration.

3) Protect your drawn comb. After it gets cold wax moths will no longer pose a threat. Until we get cold weather (end of November) you will need to protect any drawn comb you have removed from the hive. Methods vary from placing the frames in the freezer, placing outside open to light and air, or using Paramoth (paradichlorbenzene). Use of BT (bacillus thuringiensis aizawai) is no longer legal as the manufacturer did not apply for renewal for use with bees. The product is still available but is no longer labeled for use with bees. Clemson article on wax moth IPM.

4) Reduce entrances if not yet done. The appropriate amount of reduction is what your bees can guard. I like to see 20-30 bees on my landing board guarding the entrance. If you have this or more, and your entrance is well defended, then you may not have to reduce the entrance from its current setting. A three to four inch entrance is typical for this time of year. Addition of an upper entrance such as a notched inner cover is advisable prior to entering colder weather to allow for ventilation and allow moisture to escape.

5) Feed bees as necessary. As you recall, we started stimulating brood production in late August with a full 1:1 sugar syrup mix. Your bees, by now, should have some weight on them and you should be seeing an increase in orientation flights. When you see foragers bringing in goldenrod and other fall pollens they are raising your winter bees. Your colonies should have some open nectar for brood rearing available from the heavy feeding you have already provided. If they have plenty of open nectar but are still not heavy with stores it’s time to increase to 2:1 syrup to put some weight on the colony.

6) Any colonies that are lagging behind in weight should be fed aggressively at this time. Assuming you have reduced them down to overwintering configuration as discussed last month, now is the time to make sure they are increasing their stores in preparation for winter. Use 2:1 sugar syrup via your normal feeding method. Whenever they run out of syrup, refill. If using a jar feeder enlarge the feeder holes just a bit to allow them good access to the thicker syrup. The 2:1 syrup, fed rapidly, creates a situation where the bees cannot consume it as fast as they empty the feeder thereby creating a situation where they must store the thick syrup. If, however, you have colonies with more frames of stores than needed, consider sharing the bounty with less fortunate colonies.

7) Continue to tip colonies forward from the rear to assess their weight. Notice the number of frames of honey stores inside so that you can compare what you are feeling with what is actually inside. You will need this assessment skill during the cold of winter on days when you shouldn’t open the hives.

8) Pollen: Usually we get a nice pollen flow in the Midlands during the month of October. New beekeepers will notice, perhaps for the first time, the yellow and orange blooms along the roadways. That “smelly sock” odor you may notice in your hives this time of year is attributed to goldenrod. Kudzu blooms in late summer and  will continue into early autumn producing a beautiful purple pollen. The bees will use autumn pollen to both raise winter bees and to stockpile for use during next year’s spring buildup.

9) Remove any queen excluders on hives. A queen excluder during the winter will prevent the queen from moving up with the winter cluster as the bees consume honey and move upward staying warm.

10) I’ve never had problems with mice in my bee yard but if you have a local mouse population consider placing a mouse guard on this month. An inexpensive method is to reduce the current opening top to bottom to 3/8 inch.

11) Attend your local monthly meeting. Volunteer to educate the public on the importance of honey bees by signing up to work a shift at the upcoming South Carolina State Fair booth.

12) Attend the South Carolina State Fair. Visit the South Carolina Beekeepers Association’s booth.

The above are general guidelines for the average bee colony in the Midlands of South Carolina. We all have hives that may be outperforming the average. We also have colonies that underperform the average. Use your judgement in making changes suggested here. Beekeeping is an art as well as a science. Only you know the many, many particulars associated with your physical hives as well as the general health and population of your colonies.


The Mystery of the Missing Spiracle (Pair) by Staci Siler


, ,

The Mystery of the Missing Spiracle (Pair)
by Staci Siler

It read like the gravest of murder mysteries.  There was a spiracle missing on the side of my honey bee.  The book I read said it was supposed to be there but it was conspicuously absent.  What was wrong??  Was I looking at a serious mutation in my bee?  Was it contagious?  What was going on!!!!!  Where was that spiracle?

It would be nice if the answer were easy…  Or rather, I should say the answer is easy…. but complicated.

Read one book and there are nine spiracles on each side of a honey bee.  Read another and there are ten.  Read a third book and there are two spiracles on the thorax and a fourth will claim three…  So who is right??? Who is wrong???  What is going on and where is that spiracle???!!!???

To get to the answer to the question of two or three spiracles on the thorax, we have to learn a little about honey bee biology.  A spiracle is, basically, a hole in the side of the honey bee through which the bee breathes.  When the bee is a young larvae, there are ten spiracles along the side of it’s body — two on the thoracic region and eight on the abdomen.   As the honey bee grows, a ‘waist’ develops which separates the thorax from the abdomen but it starts right below the first segment of the abdomen.  As such, anatomical pictures of the adult honey bee look like this:

On this picture, you can see that the Roman numerals, which number the segments of the abdomen, start at I on the thorax, where the third spiracle is at.  As such, it would be technically correct to say there are two spiracles on the thorax but….  it would also be accurate to claim three spiracles to the ‘thoracic area’ or claim three by acknowledging the way the first abdominal segment is positioned on the thorax.That did very little to solve the initial question though as we are still left with a missing spiracle.  So… if the larvae started out with ten spiracles, where did it go?

Here is a picture of the young larvae, with all ten spiracles marked as dots along the centerline of the larvae.

Note that the tenth spiracle is located on the Roman Numeral, VIII, the eighth segment of the larval abdomen.  But if we look back at the adult honey bee we saw above, there is no eighth segment… is there???Actually, there is.  When the honey bee goes through metamorphosis, the eighth segment which contains the tenth spiracle ends up tucking up inside the seventh segment.  It is not visible but it still exists.  That said, is the tenth spiracle, though functional as a larvae, still functional or even connected to the breathing sacs in the adult honey bee.  See below image:

Note: only spiracles one through nine are listed.

The latest addition of the Hive and the Honey Bee lists the tenth spiracle as located in the spiracular plate associated with the base of the sting and, given it states there is a way for the spiracle to stop the escape of air, it lends credibility to the thought that the tenth spiracle, though often forgotten, is functional.  There is no notation for it in the above picture but other texts list it as having the second largest opening of the ten spiracles which would imply it is anything but vestigial.

So… we have found the missing spiracle.  You won’t see it if you put a magnifying glass on the bee’s abdomen but the tenth spiracle does exist, it is just not readily visible unless you are willing to get up close to the honey bee’s sting — an area beekeepers generally try to avoid.

Which is the more accurate answer?  Two or three, nine or ten??

I guess, as long as you take into account every reason for the differences (nine visible, ten functional — three on the thorax if acknowledging the transfer of the abdominal segment, two on the actual thorax) you could say any one of those variations and be correct… Technically…..

Ref: R.E. Snodgrass, Honey Bee Anatomy
Staci Siler is a Master Beekeeper living in South Carolina. She teaches all levels of beekeeping classes and frequently speaks at beekeeping associations across the state. She is the current Secretary of Mid-State Beekeepers located in the Midlands of South Carolina.

Ginger Honey Pear Butter by Fillmore Container


, , , , ,


Ginger Honey Pear Butter

September is National Honey Month and it seemed fitting for us to celebrate. Not only because we have a pretty sweet line of honey jars, but also because we’ve been enjoying honey sweetened preserves and all the benefits of swapping honey for sugar in our jams, fruit butters and other preserves.

If you haven’t tried using honey in place of sugar in your preserves, this post about honey sweetened preserves offers some guidance on how to do that safely. We’ve also learned a lot about the addition of honey, and tried many trusted recipes from the books Naturally Sweet Food in Jars, and Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin.


Pear ImageThis recipe is adapted from Marisa McClellan’s recipe for Gingery Fig Butter in her book Naturally Sweet Food in Jars.

Yield: 5 (half-pint/250 ml) jars

3 pounds/1.4 kg pears, chopped

1 cup/340 g honey

1/4 cup/60 ml bottled lemon juice

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

Prepare jars, lids and a boiling water bath canner and 5 half-pint/250 ml jars.

Note: You don’t need to peel these pears. The natural pectin in the skins helps thickening. And adds flavor and nutrition. When you puree the pears (with the skins), you’ll find the skins just disappear into the butter.

Combine the pears, honey, lemon juice, and ginger in a low, wide, non-reactive pot. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the contents of the pot begin to bubble and roll, reduce the heat to medium-low. Using an immersion blender, puree the warm pears until smooth. Cook, stirring regularly until the pear puree is thick. You know it’s done because it begins to thickly coat the sides of the pan and offers more resistance when you stir. During cooking, the pear butter may have clumped up a bit. If this is the case, use your immersion blender to puree is smooth again.

Remove the pot from the heat and funnel the finished butter into the prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch/12 mm of headspace. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.



Happy Birthday John S. Harbison, early Californian Beekeeper, Inventor, Author


, , , , ,

John S. Harbison


Today is John S. Harbison’s Birthday.
September 29, 1826.

1857 – Made the first shipment of bees into California, Introducing commercial beekeeping into California, laying the foundation for the industry in that state.

1857 – Invented the section honey box.

1859 – Invented the Harbison, or California hive.

1860 – Authored the book; ‘An Improved System of Propagating the Honey Bee’

1861 – Authored the book; ‘The Beekeeper’s Directory’

1873 – The firm of Clark & Harbison shipped the first car load of honey across the continent from California.

John S. Harbison September 29, 1826

There is no product of San Diego County that has done more to spread abroad her fame, than her honey. It has acquired a reputation in the markets of the world of the highest character. It is well known to the agriculturist that a section capable of producing such honey must possess superior advantages of soil and climate, and, as a result, the attention of a class of people has been directed hither who might have been influenced by the ordinary reports of the wonderful fertility of the country. Certainly, the man who was the pioneer in making known the fact that San Diego County was an apiarian paradise, is entitled to be classed as a public benefactor. It is concerning him that this sketch is written.

John S. Harbison was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, September 29, 1826. He comes of a sterling American stock, and can trace his lineage back through several generations. His grandfather, John Harbison, and his grandmother, Massey Harbison, were among the first settlers of Western Pennsylvania, locating near the town of Freeport, twenty-eight miles above Pittsburgh, on the Alleghany River, where the first grist-mill in that region of country was built and operated by his grandfather. In those days that part of the country was subject to many Indian outbreaks, and the Harbisons experienced their full share of the trials and sufferings incident to a life on the frontier. His grandfather acquired fame as an Indian fighter, and participated in numerous engagements in repelling the frequent murderous raids made on the settlers by the treacherous tribes of Indians inhabiting the country from the Alleghany Mountains on the east, Lakes Erie and Michigan on the north and west, and the Ohio River on the south; arid as a volunteer soldier, took part in the several expeditions led by St. Clair and Wayne, which subsequently resulted in quelling all the Indian disturbances. Mr. Harbison’s grandfather on his mother’s side, William Curry, was a chief armorer in the Continental service, and was one of the memorable minute men of the Revolution, who were a picked body of men that could be relied upon under any circumstances and were detailed to execute the most hazardous and important undertakings. He fought in eight battles in that memorable struggle, and was with Washington when he crossed the Delaware on that stormy Christmas night and defeated the astonished Hessians encamped at Trenton.

The youth and early manhood of John S. Harbison were passed upon a farm, but in 1854, having an attack of the gold fever, he made up his mind to come to California. In October of that year he sailed from New York on the steamship Northern Light, via Nicaraugua, connecting on this side with the Sierra Nevada, which had taken the place of the Yankee Blade, the latter having been wrecked just after leaving San Francisco. He arrived in San Francisco November 20, and immediately started for the mining camp known as Campo Seco, in Amador County. Here he found that gold mining was not all his imagination had pictured, he worked hard and received very meager returns. Considerably discouraged he left the mines in a few weeks, and went down to Sacramento. Glad to turn his hand to anything, he secured work in the Sutterville saw-mill, where he stayed several months. In the meantime Harbison h id made up his mind he would give-up the avocations for which he had little taste, and devote himself to something with which he was acquainted. He sent home to Pennsylvania for a general assortment of seeds, and a small invoice of fruit trees. He received the first consignment in February, and secured ground in the town of Sutterville, near Sacramento City, where he started the first nursery of fruit and shade trees in the Sacramento Valley. During the fall and winter of 1855, and again in the fall of 1856, he made large importations of the choicest fruit trees from the most celebrated nurseries in the East. From these importations was started that great series of orchards which line the banks of the Sacramento River and adjacent country.

In May, 1857, he returned to his Eastern home, and began preparations for shipping a quantity of bees to California. He finally started from New York with sixty-seven colonies, and landed them safely Sacramento, after a journey of about four weeks. This venture was so popular that he went East again the next fill, and obtained a second supply of bees, which also were safely brought to this State. He continued the business of nurseryman and apiarist near Sacramento until February, 1874, when he removed with his family to San Diego, where he has resided ever since.

Mr. H. has had some trouble with fruit-raisers, and the result was a conflagration of a whole apiary. Apiaries are usually burned by saturating each hive with kerosene, and then applying the torch; but in the case above, the hives were placed together and burned.

In the fall of 1869, Mr. Harbison formed a partnership with Mr. R. G. Clark, for the purpose of introducing and keeping bees in San Diego County. They prepared a choice selection of one hundred and ten hives of bees from Mr. Harbison’s apiaries at Sacramento, and shipped them by the steamer Orizaba, which landed in San Diego on the morning of November 28, 1869. Mr. Clark remained in charge of the bees, making all the explorations for the most suitable ranges for the location of apiaries and production of honey. Other importations were made by the firm, and the partnership was continued for the period of four years, at the end of which time a division of the apiaries and effects was made. Mr. Clark soon after disposed of his apiaries, purchasing land in the El Cajon Valley, where he established the first raisin vineyard in the county.

The great success attending the enterprise of Messrs. Clark and Harbison, and the world-wide fame of their San Diego County honey, very soon attracted the notice of bee-keepers and farmers of all parts of the States, and as a result, many were induced to come here, who took up public lands, established homes, and commenced the business of beekeeping and tilling of the soil.

In December, 1857, Mr. Harbison invented the section honey box, an invention which has done more for the advancement of honey production than any other discovery in bee-keeping. For this he was granted a patent, January 4, 1859. At the California State Fair, held at Marysville, in September, 1858, Mr. Harbison exhibited the first section box honey.

In 1873 the firm of Clark & Harbison shipped the first car load of honey across the continent from California. Mr. Harbison was awarded a medal and diploma for his exhibit of San Diego County honey at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, in 1876. Besides his labors as a practical horticulturist, a farmer and apiarist, Mr. Harbison has found time to contribute occasionally to current literature on those subjects with which he is familiar, and is the author of a book of four hundred and forty pages, entitled, “Bee Keepers’ Directory,” it treats of bee culture in all its departments and is a recognized authority on the subject of which it treats. Although it was published in 1861, it is still considered the most practical work of the kind ever issued.

Mr. Harbison was married to Mary J. White, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1865. The result of the union is one son, who died in infancy, and two daughters, both 6f whom are living.

Image The City and County of San Diego: Illustrated and Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent Men and Pioneers, Page 157, 1888
The ABC of Bee Culture, A. I. Root, 1903 page 415

Additional information here: http://www.sandiegohistory.org/journal/1969/october/harbisonimages/