Wyoming PBS

Seems they’re also supporting Urban Beekeeping. Today, at 4:30pm they aired

Growing a Greener World
Backyard Beekeeping (Seattle, Atlanta)

Interesting take, there’s a Dude in Seattle that puts his hives in your yard. He maintanes and keeps the bees, offers guidance and support. But make no mistake, they’re his bees. He collects the honey and keeps things going. However, part of the arrangement is you get honey as well.

Special in this day of “Pave over all the things!” it’s one way of keeping apiculture alive. Bonus is this encourages folks to plant bee friendly yards and gardens as well as help with education and awareness. All in all, a pretty good deal!

I must admit, I’m curious as to what the regulations, licensure and liability concerns may be for such a business.

The show goes on to a hotel with roof top gardens and hives, a trip to the kitches shows some of their gourmet cooking using the hotel’s own honey. Looks like good stuff!

(Yes, winter is long. Bees have been ordered, there’s a stack of wood ware here. Just biding my time watching bee stuff where ever I can until my packages arrive and I can get this thing going! End of April, early May is the expected window. And, I’ve 2 nucs from a local keeper reserved. No idea, yet, when they’ll be available. So, painting boxes, assembling hives, fitting foundation and waiting. Mmm, may have to put out the 2 swarm traps I’ve got ready – just to do something!)

Well, I’d guess I’d better…

at least mention this thing. It’s blown up on beekeeping forums all over. Yea, here it is again ::sigh:: The Honeyflow frame hive.

http://www.honeyflow.com

First, some context:

The idea of a ‘tap’ or ‘gate’ on a hive that would dispense fresh honey at the twist of a valve is a meme that goes back – likely – thousands of years. It’s been expressed in jokes and comics since before Gutenberg cranked his first prototype press. It’s been a joke for so long that many experienced beeks are having a hard time taking this thing seriously. Initial reactions to the announcement were, “It’s a joke, right? It’s gotta be – it’s been a running joke since forever!”

Couple that with the traditions of beekeeping. The Langstrogh hive was invented in 1852. It’s been tweaked and improved – incrimentally – over many decades. It’s been tested, proven and embraced by beeks the world over. Now, some plastic wielding engineer kid is going to show up and revolutionize honey production with a gadget?

But, the web site was fairly well done. Beeks do tend to lend credence to effort. They’re used to hard work and pointless hardwork is offensive. But maybe it was still just an elaborate joke. Just a well done joke. Yes, the Internet has made beeks cynical as well. Also, they document sevearl years – decades – of research and development. This isn’t just another quickie get-rich-quick or ‘better idea’ that’s popped up. They’ve tried it. They’ve had others try it and more importantly, have listened to their feedback.

Then the patent was found online and shared around. A few actually read it (or at least parts of it). Mmm, this thing really does go into quite some detail. And the basic mechanics do support their goal. Then there are the testimonials. Could this crew really have gotten so many known names to go along with a joke? Mmm, maybe – it’d be the ultimate trick on the beekeeping community at a time when a bit of levity might be good for everyone.

Then a friend of mine signed up for their email list, anticipating the Kickstarter campaign (23 Feb). The promises and information he received were shared and I tell ya – it sounds impressive. But, then – it’s supposed to, right?

As with any ‘new’ thing in beekeeping, I’ve my doubts and cynicism. Maybe too much. It’s a habit from years of “golly gee whiz” gadgets costing hard earned cash, making promises and ultimately just making things more difficult or simply breaking. And not just in the field of Apiology! I’ve literally piles of ‘cool’ whizzy gizmos that now serve only to hold down shelves and support dust. A temple to modern consumerism.

I’ll have to wait and see, but I’m thinking this thing – at best – will end up as a novelty or a ‘toy’ for the backyard, bet hive keeper. Examples will appear at Farmers markets and educational/marketing booths. Something to impress the common folk and make things appear easy. It won’t become a production tool (yea, I said it). It’s too complicated, too delicate, makes management of hives more difficult (maybe) and is inefficient at extracting honey from comb. There are concerns about taking un-ripened honey from the hive – but that may be surmountable with good practices.

It may also contribute to persistent malady or disease in hives. Catch a dose of AFB and how eager is a beek going to be to burn his deca-dollar gizzmo frames?

Worse, it may well trick a whole new wave of baby beeks into buying hives, bees and gear creating another large wave of abandoned backyard hives. Good for those that sell ‘stuff’. But is it good for bees or beekeeping? I’m not so sure.

The kicker may well be the particulars of the Kickstarter project itself. The price of these things – the expense and labor it will introduce will be the make or break point. If it’s comparable or slightly higher in cost to traditional frames while reducing labor for a similar harvest, well, then – maybe. Just maybe.

To be sure, I’ll not be committing to this thing until I see it works and doesn’t introduce new problems. Hard enough as it is keeping these critters happy, healthy, secure and at peace as it is. I’ve already run out of shelves, here.

Wow – what some folks think…

Articles online, talking with people – I’m amazed at the sheer scope of ignorance that pervades discussions about things ‘bee’. My favorite and continued bug-a-boo is the wanton association with wasps with bees. I guess it’s just too easy to say that a flying, stinging bug with color tendencies towards yellow and black are all bees. OK, I can live with that, I guess.

Well, not really. But getting the point across has proven to be tedious. Most have neither the interest or time to learn or even listen to a dissertation on how the two animals are so different. Such situations are prime candidates for an analogy. A quick, easy mind picture to exemplify your point. I finally found such an analogy to help explain to such folk how significant the difference really is.

While talking to a co-worker about our upcoming effort to change city laws on beekeeping, he became quite agitated and insisted this was a bad, very bad idea. In the course of talking I finally was able to deduce he was talking about wasps. Yellow jackets in particular. When I tried to explain – ‘They’re not the same thing’ and why. He only became more defensive and closed minded. Knowing I was currently in a loosing battle I let things settle down for a few days.

After a time, I got to talking to him about predator control – namely shooting coyotes. He’s an avid hunter and has done some ‘yote hunting of his own and enjoyed the effort. I also knew he has dogs. So, in the hopes of stirring things up a bit, I told him if he’d like – special since things have become so busy – I’d be happy to shoot his dogs for him. Of course he wasn’t well enamored to that idea, nor should he have been. When I explained that the differences between dogs and coyotes was smaller than that between yellow jackets and honey bees, I think he began to see the light. At the least, he was able to accept that I understood there to be a significant difference. And who knows… Maybe, just maybe he’ll do a wee bit of digging on his own to see what they are.

If anyone has an interest in keeping bees in Casper, come out to the Natrona County Beekeeping Association meeting, tonite at 7:00 – room 207 of Strausner hall on the college campus.

Threats to your bees

Disregarding legislation, honey bees have their own problems. Pests, parasites, disease and more. It behooves any keeper of bees to – at the very least – become aware of signs and symptoms of these threats. It may be helpful to know a bit about what to do if you detect a problem as well.

Here’s a web site with a good over view of the most common of threats, a good start for any beek.

Happy reading!

http://realbeekeeping.com/enemies-of-your-beehive.html

The Bee Dude

Welcome to yet another blog. This one centered around honey bees and a new way of living.

My goal is to share some of my experiences, in the hope of either assisting, guiding or enticing anyone else on their own journey. Insights, if any, may well be totally accidental and due to your own efforts. If you have any, use the comment system and share ’em!

The state of beekeeping in Casper, WY

Legally – you can’t.

Casper municipal code says bees hives and/or bees are an ‘environmental nuisance’ and having either within the city limits is not allowed. (Title 17-Zoning: 17.12.050(8) Ord. 5-91)

So, what with the recent concerns for Colony Collapse Disorder and boom in hobbyist beekeeping, what’s Casper dwelling beek to do? Well, join with us as we work to change the Casper City code! No, I don’t think they’ll just ‘delete’ paragraph 8 and allow beekeeping under state regulation – though that would be the ideal. WY Agriculture code has what are already considered by many in the country to be the most stringent laws concerning apiology in the country. They more than cover disease and pest control and Access for inspection for those ends. At the most, maybe, city code on setbacks, aggressiveness and possibly even water sources might be appropriate. But, even with out them – just due to the nature of keeping these little critters – any beek who’s not just throwing money away will accomplish said tasks as a matter of good beekeeping. VERY little need for new or more rules.

So, how this all works:

We get on the agenda. Check, we are

Things get discussed in City Council work meetings. People are NOT allowed to make comments at these meetings! However, we may be asked questions for information or clarification. I’ve already provided what I can to the folks in play. Still having a strong presence at the meeting in City Hall on the 23rd of Feb would be very good for our cause.

The issue goes through their discussions. Then it gets read at a council meeting. This is where public comments can be made. It has to go through 3 readings. Then it’ll get voted on by the council.

Then we keep our bees.

The Natrona County Beekeeping Association will hold it’s regular meetings – next one is 12 February. Our guest speaker will be Keith Goodenough, recently a member of the Casper City council. Hopefully currently sitting City Council woman Robin Mundell will be there as well! This will be our ‘Strategic’ planning meeting. Learn how the whole process works, what to do and how to do it to – hopefully – have the highest chances for success. See you there!