Monday, November 21, 2011

The Bee (HoneyBee) in Scripture

In our last Mecklenburg County Beekeepers Association newsletter  page 3 referred to the honeybee as being referred to in The Holy Qu'ran.  I have a friend that is familiar with The Holy Qu'ran and he referred me to Surah 16 entitled, "The Bee" or in Arabic "Al-Nahl".  The Holy Qu'ran is comprised of 114 Surahs/chapters.  Unlike The Holy Bible, it is organized from longest to shortest Surah.  It was completed around 632 AD and written in Arabic.  While we do not have the original document, those that are most familiar with it speak Arabic and state The Holy Qu'ran is accurate to the letter.

Below are some interesting facts as reported to me by my friend about The Bee in The Holy Qu'ran. 

********
hope you doing well, here is part one of the answer

THE BEE
“And thy Lord taught the Bee To build its cells in hills, On trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all The produce (of the earth), And find with skill the spacious Paths of its Lord.” [Al-Qur’aan 16:68-69]
Von-Frisch received the Nobel Prize in 1973 for his research on the behaviour and communication of the bees. The bee, after discovering any new garden or flower, goes back and tells its fellow bees the exact direction and map to get there, which is known as ‘bee dance’. The meanings of this insect’s movements that are intended to transmit information between worker bees have been discovered scientifically using photography and other methods. The Qur’aan mentions in the above verse how the bee finds with skill the spacious paths of its Lord.
The worker bee or the soldier bee is a female bee. In Soorah Al-Nahl chapter no. 16, verses 68 and 69 the gender used for the bee is the female gender (fa’slukî and kulî), indicating that the bee that leaves its home for gathering food is a female bee. In other words the soldier or worker bee is a female bee. 
In fact, in Shakespeare’s play,“Henry the Fourth”, some of the characters speak about bees and mention that the bees are soldiers and that they have a king. That is what people thought in Shakespearean times. They thought that the worker bees are male bees and they go home and are answerable to a king bee. This, however, is not true. The worker bees are females and they do not report to a king bee but to a queen bee. But it took modern investigations in the last 300 years to discover this.
*******

So I was curious.  What does is say about The Bee in The Holy Bible.  Turns out there is one reference to "The Bee" in The Holy Bible.

KJV Isaiah 7:18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. (Isa 7:18 KJV)

The word for Bee in Hebrew is transliterated Devorah.  We have Anglicized the word to be the name, Deborah.  If you are a male beekeeper and in your youth you have been stung by a Deborah, now you know why.  Turns out that had old Shakespeare read and studied The Holy Bible or The Holy Qu'ran he would have learned that in Hebrew or Arabic, a Bee is feminine. 

Let me end lest I drone on.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winterizing Plan Bee

Hard to believe it is almost December on the Gregorian calendar.  This morning after a slow drive up to Plan Bee because of grass mowing on I85 I arrived to a bright sunny Plan Bee.  Near the beehives it is a balmy 70 degrees in the sun.  Bees are out flying and I noted they had drained the 2 gallons of sugar water I had left for them in the chicken waterers.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

When you are out in the open like we are on Plan Bee, you have to think like a Bee.  We are getting our property ready for winter in warm weather and shining sun.  We know cold freezing weather is just around the corner.  Now that we have water if it gets really cold, pipes can break, the well head can freeze.  If we have our well burst it could cost thousands of dollars to repair.  In speaking with local rednecks, we have come up with a very economical solution.

  A light bulb.  HA!

So I popped off the well cover and put in a light with a timer.  Checked the bulb from last year and it was burned out.  Thankfully I had a replacement ready since I thought it a high probability a bulb would go bad.  Just a lightbulb turned on under the well cover that is set to come on from dusk to dawn to come on protects the well from freezing.  

With the tested light and timer in place, I simply drop the well cover over the well head and again and we are in business. Done


Next Job - With cold weather we have taken off the Mann Lake hive top feeders.  Instead we now have a solid inner cover on all three hives. (Aleph, Gimmel & Dalet)  Much to the chagrin of other beekeepers, we have elected to do some open feeding.  When the weather is warm and the bees are hungry we set up 2 one  gallon chicken waterers.  You can get a five gallon version that is easy to refill from the Tractor Supply store. I refilled the one gallon chicken waterers with sugar syrup.  I get my sugar syrup for $8.00/ 5 gallon bucket.  Refilled them and replaced my bumblebee marbles in the waterers so my bees won't drown. Such an idiot. Ha



Turned on the water for my fruit trees. Yea. Used to haul water now just turn it on from my frost proof yard hydrants. With our drip irrigation system in place, as I work I water.  Well worth the money.  Next year will extend the drip irrigation to water the front nut trees. I recently planted 2  replacement pecan trees.


So I did a quick weedeating job around some property markers and in front of the beehives. With the sun out and warmer weather, our bees found the sugar water and are really enjoying their meal.  At a usually safe distance in our picnic shelter I am being buzzed.  Stepping away from a curious bee seems to work well.

With a setting sun and a beautiful happy day, I bid good bye to Plan Bee. Winterized and ready to go.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dear Mom, a Plan Bee update

From: David @ Allen & Associates of America, Inc.
Sent: Sunday, November 06, 2011 5:28 AM
To: JG
Subject: Visited Plan Bee yesterday.

Hey Mom,

Plan Bee is located near Liberty, North Carolina. On the way there I visited Julian Milling Company located in the one street town of Julian, NC. The store stocks seed and hardware much as another hardware store we remember your dad owned in Herrick, South Dakota.

The other picture is of chicken waterers that we filled with sugar water for our bees. This time of year is interesting for our bees. The bees are leaving the hive for cleansing flights but are behaving curiously. They are mildly interested in food other than honey. While over at our picnic shelter I noted that the bees were scouting our last year’s boxes filled with frames of built out comb. There were about 20 bees flying in and out and just plain sniffing around. Meanwhile back at the chicken watering devices filled with sugar water there appeared no interest. Maybe they haven’t found it yet. I did grab a bee and dropped her in the sugar water thinking she might go back and tell her friends. Alas, no luck. Oh well.


Last item of note on the chicken waterers. I filled the area where the water comes out with bumble bee marbles. The theory here is that when our bees finally find the sugar water they will not drown while loading up with the liquid. We had purchased the marbles in an attempt to be clever. There was an article in a bee journal about a beekeeper giving new beekeepers marbles and every time the new beekeeper made a mistake he would throw out a marble. When the new beekeeper had lost all of his marbles he would then be an experienced beekeeper. As with many of our ideas, the only ones that thought it was clever was Rayleen and me. Hopefully the bees will take advantage of the marbles to drink from unless they think it is a stupid idea as well.

Thought you might enjoy the pictures.

LOL, your son, aka, the bee boy.

***************************************************************************************************************** David A. Grim
Allen & Associates of America, Inc.
Office: (01) 704-554-7469 Fax: (01) 866-409-0789
Time Zone: (GMT - 5)
www.AllenAssociates.net ******************************************************************************************************************

Monday, July 25, 2011

Plan Bee Honey


Plan Bee Honey
(Why is it different?)


What we don’t do
What we do do
No chemicals in our hives
Wild flowers make the nectar
No chemicals on our land – Plan Bee
We filter the honey with a 600 micron filter
Not pasteurized
We prefer glass to bottle our honey
Not produced with sugar water



No chemicals in the hives – Something most consumers don’t know is that many beekeepers use chemicals in their hives to combat other insect pests that attack honeybees.  While these chemicals target the pests, they weaken the bees.  The chemicals also make their way into the honey.  If you eat honey from chemically treated hives, you are eating chemically treated honey.

No chemical approach - According to our best information, the best protection for a honeybee hive is a strong honeybee hive.  The bees themselves attack their pests and literally drive them out of the hive.  Another natural way to protect bees is to put them in a sunny area (healthy bee environment).  You see the pests don’t like it as hot as bees do.  It only takes a few degrees to keep out the pests and protect the bees. 

No chemicals on Plan BeeOne way to control weeds and pests is through the use of chemicals.  Yep, if you pour chemicals on the land, weeds die, flowers die and bees can die.  Taking this one step further, people can die too.  Don’t believe us, top off your next beverage with your favorite insecticide or herbicide.  I believe they call it suicide.

            No chemical approach on Plan Bee – On Plan Bee we do things differently.  We don’t mow the approximately front 4 acre field.  Instead we just let it grow.  It grows a variety of wild flowers.  We have also introduced other vegetation as well.  We have added lavender, apple, peach, cherry, fig, apricot and pawpaw trees.  We just planted some buckwheat which will produce little white flowers as a cover crop in the fall for our hungry bees.  We don’t spray for clover, we plant it.  The bees love clover flowers.


Not pasteurizedMost honey is pasteurized which means it is heated at 145° Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.  

Why pasteurize? Bakers in particular look for honey that has been heated to a point where enzymatic activity has been destroyed. Enzymatic activity in honey can interact in some products, reducing shelf life. For instance, if raw honey was used in a butter frosting, the enzymatic activity will make the butter turn faster than normal.

The first method for producing whipped honey was patented by Elton J. Dyce in 1935 (U.S. Patent 1,987,893). In this process, raw honey is first pasteurized to kill any yeasts that may be present in the honey.  After pasteurization, previously processed whipped honey is added to the pasteurized honey to produce a mixture of 10% whipped honey and 90% pasteurized honey.  The mixture is then allowed to rest at a controlled temperature of 57 °F (14 °C). This method will produce a batch of whipped honey in about one week.  A seed batch can be made by allowing normal honey to crystallize and crushing the crystals to the desired size.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipped_honey)

Honey is not recommended for children under the age of 1 because of one medical case years ago traced a case of botulism in an infant to the honey served the night before.  The undeveloped digestive system of an infant could make it susceptible to such toxins.  Unfortunately, the study did not determine how the botulism was introduced to the honey (ie, was something dipped into it?). However, because of this case, the honey industry recommends that children under the age of 1 do not eat honey.

            Not pasteurized honey approach - Raw honey still has enzymes, proteins, and minerals that would be destroyed if honey was heated.  Discerning critics believe raw honey tastes better than heated honey.  Anecdotal evidence says that a spoonful of local honey each day, taken over a series of months, will help build up resistance to allergies. The idea is that the body receives small doses of pollen over a period of time, similar to allergy shots. (Please note: We have not seen scientific studies that prove or disprove this idea, although it is our understanding several studies are underway right now.)  (http://www.beefolks.com/shopcontent.asp?type=faq6) 

“The Revolutionary Effects of Honey on Human Metabolism” (Dr. Ron Fessenden, specialist in honey’s many health benefits and author of The Honey Revolution and other soon-to-be published books on honey and health). Honey is uniquely metabolized in the human body; unlike sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup, it directly forms liver glycogen, the brain’s main fuel reserve. By keeping the liver glycogen reserve “topped off,” honey is safe for diabetics and also therapeutic. And it helps prevent or eliminate metabolic stress, which can lead to hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypothyroidism, osteoporosis, depression, sleep disorders, Alzheimer's disease, and ADHD in children.

Honey is made from nectar which bees gather from different plants and flowers. Nectar is changed into honey by enzyme action in the bodies of the bees, and is stored in wax cells in the hive. It is then left to ripen, and in time, it thickens because of evaporation caused by the fanning of the bees' wings. Bees produce honey for their own use, as their main source of food. Honey has been in use for thousands of years. A jar of honey, still in perfect condition, was found in an Egyptian tomb, where it was placed over 3,000 years ago. Honey contains an enzyme which prevents it from molding; therefore, it needs no preservatives. Because bees are very sensitive to pesticides, honey is fairly free from contamination; the bees, if exposed to sprays, usually die before returning to the hives. http://www.trivia-library.com/a/information-about-food-honey.htm



Not produced with sugar waterWhen most consumers think of honey, a picture comes to mind of bees flying from flower to flower gathering nectar and returning to their hive to make honey.  In fact, here is what Wikipedia has to say: (Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers.  The variety produced by honey bees (the genus Apis) is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey)  ) 

             Honey can be produced from sugar water.  It does not have the benefits of pollen and other elements from the flowers.  Bees don’t even have to leave their hives to get it.  The reason some beekeepers would use sugar water could be cost, convenience or environment.  If you have your bee in a location without any bee food, they have to feed them sugar water.  We think this is bad for the bees and bad for people.

            The no sugar water approach (Wild flowers make the nectar) – To be honest we will feed our bees a mixture of sugar, thyme, salt and chamomile tea in the summer if there is no bee food around and AFTER the honey harvest.  Particularly during the honey flow, our bees can find plenty of food.  But during the summer months when everything is past bloom and before the fall/autumn nectar flow, our bees may be hungry.  We carefully examine their nectar stores and if deemed insufficient, we feed them until they can find good bee food again.  Fortunately with a wide open field in a rural setting, they seem to be doing really well.  Therefore, the honey we obtain from our bees is wild flower honey with a unique flavor and color.  It is full of pollen and propolis which is healthy for people.

We filter the honey with a 600 micron filter - Pollen grains vary in shape, coloration and size. The smallest grain of pollen belongs to the alpine forget-me-not, measuring three micrometers. The largest is from the cucumber flower, measuring at around 200 microns.  Read more:
Pollen Grain Size Facts | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_7399786_pollen-grain-size.html#ixzz1T3X63hyZ

If you look at the picture below you will see honey directly from our hive.  The white specs are wax cappings from the end of each honey producing cell.

We use a Hackler Honey Punch which punches little holes in the end of each honey cell.  After the frame is put into the honey extractor, the wax cappings just flow with the honey.  We use the 600 micron filter to remove this wax from the honey.

 That’s it.  We hate to use words like “PURE” but as you can read from our process it doesn’t get much “PURER” than that.

We prefer glass to bottle our honey – Honey does NOT react to glass and like “PURE” water just seems to taste better in glass.  According to our best information, the honey you receive from Plan Bee will last indefinitely. 

Questions to ask of those selling you honey
#1 – Where are your beehives?  I don’t care much where they bottle it but if you are counting on “local honey” you want to know where the hives are. (Ours are located in Liberty, NC)
#2 – Do you use chemicals in your hives?  That’s a yes or no.  (Again, our answer is no.)

Hope this helps and if you have other questions, please reach out to us via email.

If you post a neat comment, it might earn you some Plan Bee honey.  Wouldn't that bee a sweet deal.

Like beekeeper Geno says, "Hope to see you by the hive."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

                            Taj Mahal



Naming our outhouse began as a stupid Appalachian Trail joke. Plan Bee is rugged and rural to say the least. We have few amenities save water, picnic shelter and an outhouse. My wife said she could forgo most niceties but insisted on a privy. So once we had begun developing the land, an outhouse moved to the top of the list as a project.

While hiking a section of The Appalachian Trail from Iron Master's Mansion Hostel to Duncannon, PA I spent a night in the Darlington Shelter. Someone had a sick sense of humor like me and had named the outhouse the Taj Mahal. As I pondered our privy while enjoying a little Trail comfort on the throne I decided we had to have the same name for our outhouse.

Taj Mahal @ Darlington Shelter

For those interested in a little history, Taj Mahal was named after a princess in India that died giving birth to her 14th child. Her husband made a promise to his dying favorite wife to never remarry and to build her the richest mausoleum over her grave. The name translates to crown of Mahal. Her name was Mumtaz Mahal or "Jewel of the Palace".

The good news is my Princess is doing fine and my promise to her for this project is complete. It took me a lot less than the 22 years it took Shah(Prince) Jahan. Of course our results are substantially different but then he had the help of 22,000 workers while I had 4.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finally impacting Plan Bee - 1 year

When we visited Treehouse Vineyard to help trim the grapes vines just before spring, we met an extension agent. In addition to being a very nice guy, he was a wealth of information. As we were trimming away the old dead wood, we discussed our philosophy for Plan Bee. We smiled/smirked as we mentioned that we didn't like using pesticides, herbicides or other cides on the land. We also explained that we wanted all of the vegetation serve a purpose other than appearance. So if we planted a cherry tree, it had better produce cherries and not just ornamental blooms.

Our model is an Israeli model where the vegetation either produces or is removed. Israel, according to Wikipedia, produces 95% of its own food. We shared that in a visit years ago we saw the Bedouin placing sheets beneath olive trees and shaking the trees to harvest the olives. This took place in the streets of Jerusalem. He informed us that we wanted to practice permaculture . So as we think about what we are doing on Plan Bee, we think of it like a giant beehive. All aspects of the land are considered as we plant; remove vegetation; add vegetation and introduce other life.

Below is a Google Map version of our front 4 acres. The reason for the big red dot pointer is I used the shared map option in Hive Tracks to get to our map. If you click on the map, it will enlarge a bit so you can read the 6pt text. The black line in the middle that looks like a magnifying glass is what we are using for a road although it is a bit gravel, a real little bit, and mostly a slightly worn path created by our bee mobile. (Our '99 Saturn) For those technologically inclined, I imported the map from Google into MS Visio and then marked it up with our information from paper files. In order to insert it into this posting I did a Save As a .jpg file. (Ah yes I feel better.) Anyhow, below is the map and we found it cathartic to look at what we have done in a year. We are finally starting to see our impact on Plan Bee.


Picture below is of the entire Plan Bee property.

Monday, April 25, 2011

1st Sting T-Shirt contest - Blog Giveaway







We were accosted in parking lots. We were snickered at by friends.
Finally, we were congratulated for joining the ranks of S3BS (Stung by Bee Beekeeper Society)

So by popular request or out of sheer craziness we have decided to hold a 1st Sting T-Shirt contest.

Here are the rules:

Qualifications:
1. You have to bee a beekeeper. Bee observers are ineligible.

2. The story has to be about your 1st sting.

3. You agree to abide by our capricious/whimsical judging in awarding the men's large T-Shirt



Requirements:
Send in your 1st sting story as a comment to this posting. We will read all that are sent in and let you know how things turned out. We will look at your comments for about 2 weeks or, if possible, until we get tired of reading about other people being stung by bees.

Award:
If your story is the winner of our arbitrary and fickle judging, we will provide you a Men’s large, 1st Edition, bee sting black, with a little bee character, T-shirt and official membership into S3BS (Stung by Bee Beekeeper Society). Good luck and go out and get stung just to get into the contest.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Plan Bee Orchard - Bees need Trees


If you read this month's Bee Culture, you learned that bees are viewed as 6 legged canary's of our environment.
Funny thing bees, they don't like pesticides, herbicides or most any other kind of cides.
Funny thing people, we are the same way but just not as smart as the insects we are attempting to tame.
So, we at Plan Bee have been busy planting trees. Our motto, trees need bees and bees need trees. We believe by creating a healthy bee environment, we are also creating a healthy people environment.


One might say, our lives depend on it.


Below is a little diagram of our little orchard. It is located on the north side of our property a short bee flight away from our 3 1/2 hives. I have all of the trees listed with the month and year they were planted and the supplier. We will be replacing about 1/4 of the trees since we planted them as bare root trees and they didn't make it. At $7.00 for bare root trees instead of $49.00 for some our potted trees they were quite the bargain.




Our one really interesting tree story is about Sandy's miracle peach. Last year a friend of my wife's gave her some small peach seedlings. One of the three made it through the dry summer weather of 2010. I was going to pluck it out but sensed it had some green life left in it. With a tear in my eye I told my wife it was still alive and as long as there was any chance I was going to water the little tree. We were so pleased when spring came and the little peach tree began putting forth small purplish leaves. We have called the tree a Miracle Peach as it should have died but made it through. We are hoping for more miracles on Plan Bee.



Monday, March 21, 2011

1st Sting, 2nd Sting now it's Spring

We'll get to the stinging in a moment but let's talk about beeeees and their behavior.  Like so many of our friends, we love studying bees.  We have attended numerous bee schools conducted by PhDs that are educated bug people or as some would say, bug educated people.  The bug of choice is, of course, the honeybee.  We sit around restaurants talking about the mystical little creatures and are constantly trying to understand them.



So, before we visited our little six legged vixens, we hatched a game plan.  You see, it was springtime and those silly bees didn't know what they were supposed to be doing.  When we last saw them, they had moved up to the middle box of their three box world and were huddling to stay warm through the winter.  Now that it was springtime, at least according to the Gregorian Calendar, they should move down to the bottom box.  Alas, they didn't know this because afterall, they are only bees.  Of course they needed a beekeeper to "HELP THEM OUT".


Aleph (right) & Gimmel (left) after adding new boxes


So on the first day of  Spring, we decided to visit our bees on Plan Bee and move their world from the middle box to the bottom box.  When we finished, our Aleph hive, the first hive, would have the colony in the bottom deep box with the middle deep box empty and ready for brood building and the top medium box ready for honey.  Our Gimmel hive, our second hive, which was comprised of a deep and two mediums would be shuffled so that the middle medium would contain brood and the top box honey.  We were ready for them and their little world of boxes and frames were about to be shuffled.




A more seasoned beekeeper than my queen bee and I once sagely stated that "BEES WILL BE BEES".

The big day arrived and after a two hour car ride to our little slice of heaven in Liberty, North Carolina we arrived at Plan Bee and were greeted by swirling flying bees.  The obviously hadn't gotten the word that spring had just arrived and they were to be huddled in the middle of their boxes. As we looked into the hives we discovered that our bees were not just in the middle boxes as they had been with our last inspection but were spread throughout all three boxes.  Their numbers had grown dramatically and we saw pollen, brood and honey everywhere.



HERE COMES THE STINGING

So my queen bee and I have often and publicly announced we have never been stung by our bees.  After all only those less experienced, careless beekeepers that weren't paying attention were stung said I smugly.  Well, someone forgot to tell the bees that I alone on the planet was not to be stung.  So as I plied my trade of  scraping burr comb and brood from Gimmel and placing it on a bench nearby, a pesky bee crawled up on my shoe and stung me though my sock.  I winced in disbelief. 

GET THAT SMILE OFF YOUR FACE

I did remember to pull the stinger immediately and kept on going.  My queen bee was not so fortunate.  She bravely stood where no beekeeper should stand, in front of the hive.  My fault.  To be more exact, with her derrière sideways to incoming bees.  Everyone knows that bees cannot sting through blue jeans right??

SOMEONE FORGOT TO TELL THE BEES

So my poor wife winced at her sting and as we discussed the solution we agreed that dropping trow in front of the hive to remove one stinger was NOT a good solution.  Being a woman, she endured the pain until the appropriate time and removed the stinger from the INSIDE of her blue jeans.

So what did we learn class?




I would suggest the old adage of Bees will be Bees seems to ring true. If you have some other clever adage you feel would apply, please feel free to submit your comment.  Please note we do have to approve them and while our egos have been damaged, we still love our bees and are now officially part of S3BS.

(Stung By Bee Beekeeper Society)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Learning about vineyards and nut trees for Plan Bee & bees

As we ponder what we want to put on Plan Bee for us and the bees, my queen bee thought a vineyard would be great. 

WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT VINEYARDS.

The old expressions goes "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."  We aren't angels so I guess I know what that makes us.  My queen is a wide reading and researching machine and it wasn't long before we were members of the NC Muscadine Grape Association.  Yep, we looked on line and discovered that that a scant week away the NCMGA was holding a meeting at Gregory Vineyards and if we would get up early we could attend the all day event.  So we did.

Beeing Beekeepers we have discovered something interesting about people.  There are horse people, bee people, football people and grape people.  Some of the groups mingle well with others and well, some don't.  If you are a grape person and make wine, most everyone loves you except the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) people.

As we stood in the midst of grape people and thought oh goodie we have bees and surely every plant loving person on the planet felt the same, we were, how shall we say, educated. Grape people are not real fans of bee people as many of their grapes are hermaphrodites, they prefer the term self-polinating.  It also turns out that many grape people spray their grapes with a fungicide every two to six weeks.  Most spray an herbicide below the grapes to keep the grass and weeds down.

Pause--  So let's see.  We spray a grape friendly version of roundup underneath the grapes which is sucked up by the 2 - 6 " deep roots to the leaves, then to the grapes and finally to your glass of wine. Yum!

We also heard about all of the spraying done for insects except near harvest time and the chemical companies are actively working to reduce the window of time between spraying and harvesting.  More time, more spray.  Still liking those grapes?

Cute factoid about grapes -  They should be planted North South so as to maximize the sun on the fruit.
Cute factoid about bees - Hives should face Southeast so they would be roughly lined up with the grape rows/vineyard.

Muscadine grapes are native to the Carolinas and can require no spray depending on how your want to run your vineyard.  Our great Grape orientation will be to worry about bees first and grapes second.  Whatever grape juice/wine we eventually get will be "gravy" or is that grape juice.  Oh, well.

So we will plant our little north south rows of muscadine grapes with clover beneath them to keep the weeds down knowing that some of the vitality of the grapes will be sacrificed to the clover.  Our bees will enjoy the clover and the grape blossoms, we hope.  Sounds like we are creating bee heaven to me.


Above is the first layout proposed by our Land Planner, Brandon Price of Wildland Forestry.
Note that the little grape  vineyard is lined up with a Northwest/Southeast orientation.  In our next pass we will change the proposed layout to reflect our great grape knowledge.

Nuts - A Quick word on this before I end this post.  Turns out that trees like Pecans don't share well with other plants.  At a gardening class, I know we spend too much time in classes on this stuff, we learned that trees like pecans really diminish the growth of other plants underneath them.  It is unwise to use their leaves when composting because of the chemical in the leaves.  When we plant our pecan trees, which have a 30' reach, we will plant them where we don't want anything else to grow.

Sure hope my bees like all of the trouble my wife and I are going through to provide them a nice place to live.

Final thought,


WE KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT VINEYARDS
& NUTS NOW

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Planning @ Plan Bee

In January we decided it would be a good month to do some planning.  The name for the month of January comes to us from the Julian Calendar.  January was named after the Roman pagan deity Janus, a two headed deity.  One of its heads looked back and the other looked forward.




LOOKING BACK on 2010 - We decided first to look back at our accomplishments on Plan Bee.
  • May 19, 2010 - Purchased 6985 Bowman Dairy Road, Liberty , NC (aka Plan Bee).

  • June 6, 2010 - 24' bee stand installed.
  • June 10, 2010 - Installed pipes and gravel over culvert allowing us on to the land without breaking an axle.


  •  July, 2010 Well - Signed paperwork in July and actually received final paperwork that we could drink the water in December 2010.



  • July 18, 2010 - Picnic Shelter started and eventually constructed using cedar poles from the land, some purchased 1"x2" and salvaged aluminum corrogated roofing. 

  • July 18, 2010 - Outhouse project started. 
  •  August 2010 - Electric installed via Duke Energy to power well pump and to use power tools.
  • September 11, 2010 - Moved our 2 hives of bees on to Plan Bee from Charlotte, NC
  • October 2010 - Our first deer harvested via a bow.  Nice shooting son.
  • November 19, 2010 - Plan Bee fully surveyed.

Most of the work was done by my son and his friends with my wife and I assisting in completing some of the projects that required  continuous follow up such as the well and well inspection.  Yep, my son spent a lot of time in the heat of the summer working and getting things started.

LOOKING FORWARD on 2011
As we think about Plan Bee, we are fortunate to have very low expenses.  We do have to pay for electric and government (taxes)  Therefore as we had planned all along, we need to generate income to at least cover these minimal expenses and yet not lose sight of all of the fun of owning 23.58 acres in a rural community. 

Here are some goals for 2011:

  • January 15, 2011 (Begun) - Develop Land Plan that can be used when considering planting trees, herbs and flowers as well as tax implications.
    • Timber some of the property to make way for more productive trees and vegetation.  Will hopefully generate revenue.
    • Make sure plan will allow us to achieve Present Use Value in 3 years (2014)
  • Continue to expand our bee yard. We now have 2 hives and can grow the number up to 25.
    • Add at least 2 hives this year.
    • Harvest honey from our hives or fire the bees and get a new bunch for next year.
    • Complete work on new hive stands pointed to the Southeast (Optimum direction for bees)
  • Continue to plant fruit trees for us and the bees. (Bees need trees and Trees need bees)
    • Trees we want to plant - PawPaw, apple, fig, peach, Mulberry, others to be named
  • Plant 6 grape vines and evaluate if a vineyard is possible. (Attending a NCMGA (North Carolina Muscadine Growers Association) meeting
  • Water Improvement:
    • Install yard hydrant for year around water.
    • Install drip irrigation system for garden, trees, herbs and bees.
  • Build tool shed for storage of equipment.
  • Plant Moroccan Mint