Monday, November 4, 2013

Millions of bees swarm Georgia interstate after truck overturns

Just posted to Yahoo News.  Thought you might bee interested.



ATLANTA (Reuters) - An overturned tractor-trailer let loose millions of honeybees on Sunday and left a sticky mess on a major highway south of Atlanta, after hitting a guardrail and spilling its cargo of hives and honey.

"It looked like there was a rain cloud around everybody," Monroe County Emergency Management Agency director Matthew Perry said on Monday. "There was a giant mound of honeycomb and bees."

A portion of Interstate 75 was closed briefly, and clean-up of the honey and swarming bees took 15 hours, Perry said.

Authorities sought help from beekeepers, who arrived with protective gear to assist with the potentially dangerous swarm.

The debris was pushed to the median with a small bulldozer and then beekeepers began piecing the broken hives back together so the bees would return, Perry said. The hives were loaded back into bee boxes and hauled away.

No one was stung or injured, in part because the weather was cool and the bees docile, Perry said.

"When you have an interstate like I-75, you never know what's going to come passing through," he said.

(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Alden Bentley)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dinner on Plan Bee

It has taken us awhile but after years we are becoming more comfortable on our property we have named "Plan Bee".

As beekeepers we have been taught that the most valuable item for a healthy bee yard is a trained beekeeper.  Therefore we want to be sure to take good care of the beekeepers on Plan Bee. 

Er ah, that would be us. :-)

Now that the Bee Inn (our new shed) is up and mostly finished, we have place to spend a night.  We strategically placed the Bee Inn behind our picnic shelter.  This compresses the human footprint on Plan Bee's 23.5 acres and is more convenient for the Beekeepers.

As you may be able to see above, we are eating our dinner of chicken, pitas and Turkish coffee at the picnic table.  I cooked the chicken on the grill using charcoal right on the table.  One the other end of the table we have a Coleman stove that is used to heat water we use for coffee, tea or oatmeal.

If you want to come and visit, send us an email  at  BeeBoy@WildThingsInABox.com and we can work out a date.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Sweeter Tax Than Most

Beelieve it or not, some accountants have a sense of humor.  One in particular I have the pleasure of knowing is Ed Lloyd of Ed Lloyd & Associates, PLLC ( ed@elcpa.com, www.elcpa.com ).  I just received permission to post one of his sweet honey related tax articles that is both informative and funny.  One point in particular to be sure to harvest from this article has to do with Chinese honey and transshipping.

Here is the article

When you hear the word "tax," you probably think of something the IRS takes out of your paycheck. Or you might think of something they take out of an inheritance. But taxes affect virtually every financial transaction you make. Take, for example, that simple jar of honey lurking on the shelf in your refrigerator.

Americans eat more honey than anyone else in the world — about 400 million pounds of it a year. Most of it goes towards sweetening foods like cereals, cookies, and breads. Even whiskey producers are adding honey to their blends to attract younger drinkers. (The Scotch Whiskey Association just stung Dewars for labeling their new "Highlander Honey" as "scotch" rather than "spirit drink.")

Where does all that honey come from? Well, China is the world's largest honey exporter. But Chinese beekeepers sometimes use pesticides banned here in the U.S. They sometimes dry their honey by machine, which lets the bees produce more, but leaves the honey with a foul taste similar to sauerkraut. Worst of all, Chinese producers sell their honey at prices as low as half of what our domestic producers charge.

Back in 2001, the U.S. government slapped Chinese honey with punitive tariffs, currently set at $2.63/kilogram, to protect American producers. Those taxe$ can triple the cost of Chinese honey. So today, about 40% of our honey comes from here in the U.S., with the rest coming from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and other countries.

What's a poor Chinese beekeeper to do? Enter the "honey launderers." Chinese producers send their honey to nearby countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, India, or Korea, and re-label it as coming from those countries. They add rice sugar, molasses, or fructose syrup to hide any unpleasant tastes or smells. (Ick.) They filter the honey to remove the pollen, which palynologists, or pollen specialists, can use like a natural "fingerprint" to track down a honey's origin. And they pocket the savings they create by evading the tax.

How much tax does the illicit honey avoid? A lot. Back in 2008, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials charged 14 people with a globe-trotting scheme to evade $80 million in payments. And in February of this year, officials busted two of the nation's biggest suppliers for evading $180 million more. In a scene reminiscent of Donnie Brasco, officials launched "Operation Honeygate" and planted an agent "on the inside" for a year. The agent served as one supplier's director of procurement, and the investigation led to five individual guilty pleas, two deferred prosecutions, and $3 million in fines.

What's the lesson? Taxes are baked into the price of everything you buy, whether they're even paid or not!

There's not much we can do to help you avoid hidden tariffs on baked goods. Fortunately, we can help with the taxes that really count — taxes on your income, your payroll, and even your estate. If you're busy as a bee, you deserve to keep everything the law allows. So call us for the plan you need — and remember, we're here for everyone else in your hive!
If you liked Ed's article and would like more advice on Tax $aving$, you can contact him @ 704-544-7600.
 
Bee sure to let him know the Bee Boy sent you.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Minding our own BeesWax --- and making candles

Many years ago I heard the expression, "mind your own beeswax".  I thought it referred to minding your own business.  Turns out I may have been right for a change.

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There is an absurd story, much repeated on the internet, that 18th-century ladies used to fill in the pockmarks on their faces (this was when smallpox was a common and disfiguring disease)with beeswax, which would melt if the lady sat too near the fire. If someone else warned her about this, she would retort "mind your OWN beeswax!" This story is only mentioned to say that there isn't a shred of truth in it. Though beeswax was often (and still is) a component of cosmetics of all kinds, it was not used as a pockmark filler in this way. The beeswax saying is of 1920s origin, a garbling of "mind your own business." While it might seem harshly rude to say "mind your own business," changing the last word to "beeswax" softens the blow, and makes a jovial point of the same sentiment.  http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Where_did_mind_your_own_beeswax_originate
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Transition --- As my wife and I are working more with our honey bees, we are looking for other products from the hive.  The Bee Boss gave us a 5 gallon tub of the beeswax years ago and my wife dutifully promised to make something from it.  Well, time slipped away from us.  We bought a crockpot to melt the stuff and after seeing another beekeeper simply melt wax and pour it into a mold we thought it would be easy.  WRONG!

sO like many things bee, we had to go back to the beeginning. 

Where does beeswax come from anyhow??  Found these nifty photos on Bing that show you the source of beeswax.
A honey bee worker has four pairs of wax glands in her ventral abdominal segments. 


Note that PURE beeswax is clear. (See the three small beeswax chips above and new wax on the abdomen of a honey bee below.)  


This is a direct product from a honey bee worker.   Honey bees use this material to make the comb that is used by the honey bee colony to store honey.  The queen lays eggs in hexagonal (6 sided) cells that are between 4.5  and 5.4 millimeters in diameter to make more honey bees. (brood)  From what I have read, honey bees naturally make their cells 4.5 millimeters while commercial wax foundation is the larger 5.4 millimeters.  The purpose of the larger cell size is for larger bees and more honey.  This has made for some problems in the honey bee world that are not so sweet.  Back to the subject.


Our purpose in using the comb for now is to make beeswax candles.

Why use beeswax to make a candle? 

One reason My wife found in the write up below @ http://www.busybeebeeswax.ca/waxfacts.html.  If you go to the web site, note the other types of candles, their composition and byproducts.
 BEESWAX is the only all natural candle wax. It’s a sustainable and renewable resource. When you buy a beeswax candle you’re supporting beekeepers, which means supporting those busy little insects that pollinate food crops and keep the world green naturally. Beeswax candles burn cleaner, brighter, hotter  and longer than other candles. When natural golden beeswax burns it gives off a soft glow* and sweetens the  room with its natural scent — no artificial scents or colors required! Many people are allergic to the  artificial waxes and artificial fragrances common in today’s candles, even in church! Beeswax is non-allergenic and is a natural air cleaner, recommended by the American Lung Association. It’s the best choice for asthma and allergy sufferers. Beeswax candles burn cleanly, don’t drip when properly used, and have long burn times,  saving you money. Be sure that the candles you buy are 100% beeswax – some countries allow as little as 10%  beeswax in candles labeled as ‘beeswax’.
*The light spectrum emitted from a beeswax candle is the closest of all waxes to natural sunshine
 
Another reason to use BEESWAX for candles has to do with their efficiency in burning.  I read somewhere, can't find the source, that one of the reasons beeswax candles were used exclusively in medieval cathedrals is they release NO SOOT.  Beeswax candles actually clean the air whereas all other candles leave impurities (soot) in the air.  Soot /ˈsʊt/ is impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soot
 
So whether you want to support a beekeeper; see pure light (sunshine) or experience cleaner air, beeswax candles are a really neat option.

 ONE WAY TO MAKE BEESWAX CANDLES
We will offer classes in making beeswax candles.  If interested contact me @ beeboy@wildthingsinabox.com.

 We are now going to discuss how we make beeswax candles.  My queen bee and I have spent many hours over the old stove and read many an article to get where we are.

Step 1 - Gather beeswax
The best beeswax to use is either the cappings off the end of the comb (a byproduct generated when harvesting honey) or newly formed and unused wax comb.  This wax will be a white color and have a minimum of impurities in it.  BEESWAX with impurities will NOT BURNWe know we tried. We used a crockpot with no temperature control and reheated some old beeswax.  We did a minimum filtering of the wax and poured it into a neat glass candle form with a medium wick.  The results were a candle that would NOT sustain a flame. Useless!


Step 2 - 5 -- Clean/filter your beeswax
You will need a double boiler and a wax thermometer to melt your wax.  Beeswax has a relatively low melting point range of 62 to 64 °C (144 to 147 °F). If beeswax is heated above 85 °C (185 °F) discoloration occurs. The flash point of beeswax is 204.4 °C (399.9 °F). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beeswax
Pour your melted wax through panty hose, t-shirts or whatever your little heart desires into Tupperware or other container and let it cool.  The neat thing about a Tupperware container is you can see the wax separate from the honey.  The wax will be on top and the honey on the bottom.  Depending on the quality of your wax/honey mixture, you can retrieve some additional honey in addition to the beeswax.  Pour off the honey; rinse off the beeswax in water and repeat.

     Why do I have this step listed three times?  So far we have found it necessary to triple filter our beeswax to get all of the impurities out.  After the first filtering it looks like we have everything out of the beeswax however once we repeat the melting/pouring steps more impurities are revealed.  In step one above you will note our experience with impure beeswax.(The candle does NOT remain lit.)

     Interesting note -  Biblically the number 3 is the number of perfection.  Turns out the third word in Genesis 1:1 in Hebrew refers to Elohiym (God).

Step 6 - Selecting your wick and candle form
From what we have read the best wicks are pure cotton and thick.  We tried medium and wooden wicks with no success. By no success we mean the candle would not stay lit. 


Step 7 - Pouring the wax
Once you have everything ready:
  • Pure wax
  • Wick secured into candle form
  • Candle form stable and ready to receive beeswax 
 Pour in your melted beeswax.


Step 8 - Letting your wax cool
 We let our beeswax candle cool overnight.  The color of the candle is a light brown/tan color.


Step 9 - Burn baby burn
Now for the moment you have been waiting for, light your candle.  The wick should have been trimmed to about 1/4 inch above the wax.  Keep your candle out  of the wind as beeswax candles are very sensitive to air movement.

The glow is magical and after all of your work you can really appreciate the gentle sunlike glow of the candle.

Bee Boy out!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Getting ready for Spring

We had planned on taking a quick look at our honeybees but knew that if the weather allowed we wanted to provide them a little extra food.  We are focusing on raising survivor bees so we don't want to spoil them.

As you can see in the picture above it was a nice day and the temperatures were actually above 60°.  We had fed all of our hives sugar fondant to help them through the winter but to avoid such detrimental issues as moisture dripping onto the cluster and hive beetle hiding places with a normal hive top feeder.  The hives that were surviving had consumed ALL of the fondant.  The hives that died had fondant left.

Yep dead bees don't eat. 

We took all of the sugar fondant we had prepared and spread it out on all of the remaining live hives.  We started the winter with 6 but have lost 2.  So for us 3rd grade math students, we have 4 hives left.

Who is making it?  The two hives that died were Russian bees.  We bought one hive (second year for this hive) and the other was the result of a swarm from the first/mother hive. (2012)  We took NO honey from either hive but fed them little as well.  Both hives were is some of the more exposed areas of the property so they may have gotten colder.  So far this season we have touched the 20's but not colder.

The four remaining hives include our original 2010 Aleph and Gimmel.  One hive is a Minnesota hygienic we bought from Carl Chesick & Stuart Van Meter of the Center for Honeybee Research in the Hendersonville, NC area.  We split Gimmel last year creating Hey (using Hebrew letters for our hives) and that hive is surving so far as well.  The last survivor is also from Carl Chesick & Stuart Van Meter of the Center for Honeybee Research  and we have them in a Warre` hive.

When we looked at the dead hives, it was interesting to observe not ONE small cluster but a number of them in each hive.  Little honey so I am guessing they may have starved out.  Does this make me a bad beekeeper.  Perhaps.  It is interesting to note that we applied the same methods to our other 4 surviving hives.

WINTER IS STILL NOT OVER.

We inserted mediums boxes on the bottom of our 3 Langstroth hives (nadiring instead of supering).  We have done nothing so far to  our Warre` hive but may do a split in March/April.

Well that's about all of the news that is news from Plan Bee.

Bee Boy out.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM or ---------Shed ready

My Queen Bee and I live in a condominium in Charlotte, NC most of the time.  Our little slice of heaven does not have lots of room but is a very efficient place to live.  With the kids gone and the dog dead, we are reorganizing.  My old office is being converted into a guest room and our upstairs bedroom is now our office.  My old office used to house lots of bee equipment but with the reorganization, we moved the beekeeping equipment to our living room.  What a mess.  It is the elephant in the room.  We discussed what to do with all of the gear until we had an "ah ha" moment.

Living room mess.

Shed Ready - On Plan Bee we have about 23 1/2 acres.  One bright sunny day I asked myself why not take advantage of that space.  After all we use our beekeeping equipment almost exclusively on Plan Bee so wouldn't that make more sense??  So I have begun clearing out an area behind our Plan Bee Picnic Shelter.  Plan A for Plan Bee is to clear the area, level it up with dirt, pour a concrete slab, lay down some 6x6 beams and then put up a shed.
 
Area being cleared behind the picnic shelter.
 
The big tree in the back is about 3 feet in diameter but it was rotted away in the middle.  Interesting enough without proper felling, it would have fallen exactly where we wanted to put our new shed.  So we beat it to the punch.  So far I have spent 2 days of chainsawing and dragging away trees and brush to get this area ready for more dirt and a concrete pad.  Good news is there are few bugs this time of year and it is a great area to work on.
 
Fixed error with well head dusk to dawn light.  We have a regular 60 watt light bulb under our well cover.  During the winter it keeps it just warm enough so that the well head won't freeze.  I noticed the electric bill did not reflect electric useage but instead showed the same value on the meter.  Upon inspection, after removing the black widow spiders, I noted the light bulb needed a few more turns in to work.  Tested it again with the on setting and then the dusk to dawn timer setting and that seems to have fixed the problem.
 
 
 Chopped an irrigation pipe in two which is not good for water pressure in the line.  At first I was going to wait until next trip to repair the line as I didn't have my drip irrigation repair kit with me.  Then I remembered there was an end piece/ end cap to the line.  Used my machete to make a clean straight cut and repaired the line. Yea!!  Problem solved.
 
Bee Grim -- regarding my name.  I wanted to use my nom de plum (Pen Name) or "Bee Boy".  Alas, Google said the name did not comply with their naming standards.  I then thought, how about "Bee Happy", guess what, same deal.  Mr. Google has allowed me to use my desired first name, "Bee" but requires I use my real last name, "Grim".  Yea, I know.  So anyhow as I tell my friends and others I try not to bee Grim but alas, it is my name.  So Bee Grim I am as far as Google is concerned but I hope to either Bee Happy or bee a Bee Boy one day soon.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Langstroth Hive Stand Instructions

We just had someone ask about our hive stands and I thought the question would be of interest to a number of beekeepers.

Hello from Southwest Louisiana.
We have started keeping bees and were on the net looking for a bee hive stand that would work for us.
Ran across your blog showing the long hive stand that you moved a hive to.  On some property you had purchased.
Had about 8 hives on it in the photo.
Looks like you used several single post in the ground with y arms to hold double rails. 
Do you have plans or the details for the hive stand?   Looked on the blog but did not see dimensions, material, etc.
We currently have 5 hives.
Sincerely,
Steven & Nola

So here is a step by step for building a hive stand for a Langstroth Hive.  This stand is designed for two (2) Langstroth hives with plenty of work space between them.  The hive stand referenced by Steven & Nola is not very functional.  It is difficult to get around to work on the hives.  We find a stand that supports 2 hives at a time to be the best.  When we take off the telescoping cover to our hives while working them, we place them in the open space between the hives on the stand instead of putting them on the ground. We work our hives one at a time. Convenient!!

Building a hive stand is best done in comfortable weather or just before the bees start flying.  Somehow doing this in the summer in a bee suit is just NO FUN.

Materials:
  •      2 2"x8"x8' pieces of STRAIGHT pressure treated lumber
  •      4 2"x8"x12" pieces of  pressure treated lumber (we use pine)
  •      24 4" screws (galvanized so they won't rust) (Phillips head ONLY)
  •      4 cinder blocks (we use the small ones)
  •      1 or 2 bags of sand (optional)
  •      Wood chips or mulch (we have a pile of it so not sure how to measure this)
  •      Black plastic bags or black plastic sheeting (This will make sense in a minute)
  •      Wooden shims
  •      Level
  •      Tape measure

Tools:
  •      Electric drill & screw driver
  •      Flat head shovel (Not the pointy version)
  •      Compass
  •      Beekeeper's assistant.
  •      Picnic table or other flat surface to support the stand under construction (optional)

Steps to construct & install hive stand:
  1. Be sure you have a sunny location to set up your hive stand.  If you have a shady one you invite hive beetles & other unwanted pests.  In North Carolina our bees like it hot.
  2. Your hive will face southeast so be sure BEFORE you start this does NOT represent a problem. We have our hives facing southeast to maximize daylight for the bees.
  3. Begin assembling the hive stand.

               a. Using your tape measure, measure roughly equal spacing
                   for your cross members, the 12" pieces.  Some
                   beekeepers want the support pieces to come under
                   the edge of each hive. Think through your strategy before
                   you begin the next step.
               b. With you cross pieces in place, drill 24 pilot holes in the
                   side of your hive stand.  This represents 3 pilot holes for
                   each cross piece on each side.
                c. Using your electric screw driver, screw in the 24 4" screws
                    to assemble the stand.  (Note - I tried 3" screws, they
                    were too short.  I also tried only using 2 screws per
                    support, not enough support.  I already made the mistakes
                    so you won't have to. But......)
               d. Your hive stand is now assembled


     4. Preparing your hive stand location
    
               a.  Using your compass, determine which direction is
                    southeast.
               b.  Place your hive stand on the ground so that it faces
                    southeast and to determine what you need to do to
                    level the ground where your hive stand will be placed.
               c. Using your level, flat head shovel & beekeeper's assistant
                   to level the area where the hive stand will set up.
   

              d.  Place the 4 cinder blocks a foot or so in from the end of
                   the hive stand and the place the hive stand onto the cinder
                   blocks.  See above.
              e.  Relevel the stand that now is on top of the cinder blocks.
                   (2 cinder blocks per side)

               f. Remember I said straight pieces of lumber.  Chances are it
                  was not as straight as we had hoped. This is where the
                  shims come in handy.  Using the shovel, shims, level
                  and beekeeper's assistant, finish the leveling.  The
                  Beekeeper's assistant can stand back and eyeball the
                  stand to point out obvious mistakes.  My assistant is
                  excellent and finding my mistakes and not just with
                  the hive stand. Ha!

 Here is the finished project with hives on the hive stand.  At this point we were ready for yet another hive.  We ended up moving these hives to our property in Liberty, NC, Plan Bee.

Hope this is of value to you.  If you have questions we will try and respond.

 That's all  folks.  The Bee Boy out.