Wednesday, April 27, 2011

farming practices are out of balance

I'm writing this today to share some disturbing "rumblings" in the agricultural world.

MONOCULTURE (definition from wiki-pedia) Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing one single crop over a wide area. It is also known as a way of farming practice of growing large stands of a single species. It is widely used in modern industrial agriculture and its implementation has allowed for large harvests from minimal labor. However, monocultures can lead to the quicker spread of diseases, where a uniform crop is susceptible to a pathogen. 'Crop monoculture' is the practice of growing the same crop year after year. (


The Pistachio Crop in Australia Failure - points to AGRICULTURAL BREAKDOWN.

and Wheat Rust ...coming back?!?!?

Hybridization/GMO = BIG YIELDS with the aid of lots of chemicals...
Uniform Crop = Uniform Disease Susceptibility
Fence lines being torn out for bigger fields - bigger equipment
Gone are the days of a little alphalfa, corn, beans, wheat, oats, and PASTURE on the farm....

are we headed for a breakdown? is it already here?

As beekeepers we can SEE what this monoculture trend does to our bees....rows upon endless rows of corn - DO NOTHING for our bees. They used to ship BOXCARS full of honey out of the Ohio valley...because of all the clover cover - both planted and natural.

Friday, April 8, 2011


I clipped this out of my Popular Science...a company that makes ECO-INSECTICIDES. What caught my eye was that they're using some of the same "oils" that we're throwing at varroa! THYME...

Wisconsin Spring 2011

Gosh - it seems like mother nature is taking her darn sweet time warming up this spring. It's still 50's, cold at night...and just a "dampness" hanging around. If it's not dampness chilling your bones - it's the wind.

I see that Saturday/Sunday there's a warm front coming - but it's bringing RAIN with it....we'll see if I can go between the rain drops and do my SPRING HIVE BODY SWITCH...and SPRING CLEANING...crossing my fingers.

I've got 2 of 6 hives coming out of winter. I dread the cleanup....

Sunday, April 3, 2011

ORGANIC home-made spray for fruit trees - edited

...this is GOAL #2 for 2011

Since we "inherited apple trees" with our property...WE'VE NOT EATEN ONE APPLE from our own trees!!!! (in 8 years!!!) WHAT? your asking. WHEN CRITTERS INFEST your trees...they're EXTREMELY HARD TO GET RID OF...when you opt for the NON-CHEMICAL solution.

In the ORGANIC line of thinking - you have to BREAK THE INSECT CYCLE. Yes - I could throw a NEO-NICOTINIDE at the trees and likely kill everything and be done with it in ONE APPLICATION. BUT - I KEEP BEES IN THAT SAME AREA!!!!

hence...resolution #2 - KEEP AHEAD of the critters this year. SPRAY WEEKLY.

Here's a recipe for DORMANT OIL SPRAY - a non-toxic spray applied in either and or both fall and spring - it SMOTHERS overwintering bug EGGS. apply 40 degrees or above. REPEAT WEEKLY - DO NOT spray when flower buds or blossoms are on the tree!

1 Gallon Mineral Oil (in the walmart pharmacy area, fleet farm health & beauty area)
1 lb. Oil Based Soap (granular)...this is like a "baby" FLAKE laundry detergent...DREFT
1/2 Gallon Water
to spray - DILUTE 1 part Homemade Mix to 20 parts Water

REALISTIC RECIPE (for a couple/half dozen trees):
1/8 Gallon (2 Cups Mineral Oil)
1/8 lb. FLAKE Soap (2 oz)
1/16 Gallon (1 Cup) Water

SPRAY LIBERALLY until FLOWER BUDS/FLOWERS begin. THE PRIMARY APPLICATION IS TO THE BARK (TRUNK, TWIGS) and leaves. (avoid the fruit when possible - a little overspray, ok) This should be thought of as a TREE spray - not a FRUIT spray.

When fruit begins to set (.5"/1" can continue spraying weekly. You can also switch for this "fruiting period" to a plain SOAPY WATER SOLUTION (dish soap recipe readily found online). It's the mineral oil in this recipe that gives a little "longevity" against the rain...

This recipe when diluted properly is very mild. I tried this recipe last year - and it's failure was MINE...I was not diligent about applying weekly.

EPIPHANY and my goals as a beekeeper 2011

Epiphany - no, not the Christian holiday...the literal definition: THE SUDDEN REALIZATION OR COMPREHENSION OF THE (LARGER) ESSENCE OR MEANING OF SOMETHING.

My goals as a beekeeper changes from year to I GROW as a I GAIN A GREATER UNDERSTANDING.

This years goal...."propogation of survivor stock". 2 out of 6 hives coming out of winter this epiphany? THE TWO HIVES COMING OUT ARE MY ORIGINAL STOCK FROM 4 YEARS AGO!!!! yes! these bees have CONSISTENTLY made it through 4 wisconsin winters!

I'm going to take a guess at YOUR next question....WHERE DID YOU GET THESE BEES??? BEE WEAVER out of Texas....."ALL STARS" - which I just confirmed via the original invoice. They came in the mail - the first package DEAD ON week later - the replacement came.

I've noticed that these bees are a little "cranky" in the fall....and I've wondered if they're not REQUEENING. I read in one of the bee periodicals that hives that REQUEEN in the fall (through superscedure) - tend to get off to a MUCH BETTER START the following spring. Their bee language is telling me in the fall...LEAVE ME ALONE....and I do so.

Last year I overwintered these bees as a 3 DEEP HIVE! (beekeepers - do I need to tell you how HEAVY the top DEEP box was????!!!) and they came out of winter with WHOPPING BIG POPULATION....ready for a split EARLY in the spring. And there you have it...the ORIGINAL MOTHER HIVE and IT'S SPLIT are this year's survivors.

So...for 2011. I'm not ordering any packages. I'm going to try to get these two hives to make me some queen cells which I can introduce to new hives/split.

I know that I'm SACRIFICING PRODUCTION for stock. My BIG PRODUCERS last year were two packages that I installed spring of last year...4 supers each!....but they're dead. SO - what do you do as a beekeeper? I guess that is dependent of what you're wanting out of beekeeping.