Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Irony of the Day

Custom Wood Kits International, a manufacturer of top bar hive kits, recently emailed an announcement advertising the creation of their new business on many of the major beekeeping email lists. As part of their marketing scheme, Custom Wood Kits criticized a number of other approaches to bee management (e.g. small cell) in order to show the benefits of top bar hives. As might be expected, a number of the list members on the "Organic" beekeeping list took exception to their criticism of "small cell" foundation. Some list members thought it would be better for them not to take such a negative approach in their advertising, especially about something "they know very little about", but remain, instead, positive about their own product. As a skeptical outsider who reads the Organic Beekeeping list I found this request a bit ironic, if not downright hypocritical. The "Organic Beekeeping" list's stock-in-trade is to negatively cut down anyone who uses bee medications on their bees and doesn't use small cell foundation, no matter what the scientific research might say. (Didn't they go through a week of negatively criticizing Bee Culture magazine?)

To be truthful, I am often critical of the way laypeople and non-reflexive scientists use (and abuse) scientific research, so I have always been sympathetic to the small cell people. Scientific results are always probabilistic, nothing is 100% certain, especially when you examine honeybees in a holistic, ecological fashion. But to not extend to the "Custom Wood kit" folks the same "rhetorical leniency" to speak negatively against other management philosophies, as the "Organic" beekeepers do on their list, is hypocritical.

Natural beekeeping is such a contested concept.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Video: Natural Beekeeping Class Preparing for Winter

Visiting Snow Covered Beelandia

I finished grading finals, put my boots on and went out to visit the hives in Beelandia this morning. We had snow a week or so ago, and frigid weather since, so I wanted to brush off the entrances and see the state of the hives. Other than a few dead bees around each hive, all looked normal. I swept away the snow from the bottom entrances and left things as is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Return of the Giant Hogweed: An Object Lesson




Here is a video I used in my environmental sociology class to illustrate the problems of globalization to the biophysical environment.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Spring Plans

I am huddled here at home after the season's first big blizzard, I've looked out over the snow-covered hives and thought..."Well what are my plans for the spring?"

After doing some research and attending the "Queen Rearing" course at the U of M last summer, I guess my focus next spring will to begin some queen-rearing. (Of course, all this depends are my hives surviving the winter. They were fed extra sugar and pollen in October and early November, and packed away nicely. There were less mites than last fall, and also very few bees with virus-like symptoms, so I am bit more confident) This means some preparation this winter, so here are my goals:

1. Finding places to place hives and mating nucs. I have one colleague (a former exterminator) who has expressed an interest, the Catholic Worker House one block away, and a small-scale perennial nursery and orchard. I have pretty much reached my limit in hives in Beelandia itself.

2. Equipment Purchases-- I made a number of purchases last summer in preparation for queen-rearing this spring (e.g. card board nucs, grafting equipment, etc. ) My new purchases might include more Pierco plastic frames (With a little extra bees wax "painted" on each frame, the bees accepted these well.), and some pollen substitute.

3. Reading and Rereading More Books-- I am obsessed with collecting as much information as possible on queen-rearing, and, unfortunately, had not had time to do that reading this fall with classes, assessment, advising, and presentations.

Did I forget anything?