The USDA National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced a new grant program for farms and ranches in the Midwest to promote conservation efforts, improve honey bee and pollinator health, and reduce colony losses during winter. Grants totaling almost $3 million are available to producers in MI, MN, ND, SD, and WI.
Grants can be used to support conservation practices that improve nectar and pollen availability for pollinators, including cover cropping and forage management.
Grant applications are due March 21, 2014. See the NCRS web site for details.
NRCS offers a free Farming for Pollinators publication in .pdf format.
A number of viruses affect honey bees and are significant factors in ongoing problems with colony collapse disorder (CCD) and colony losses during winter. Varroa mite (Varroa destructor), which itself can weaken colonies, can also transmit viruses to honey bees, further reducing hive strength. A recently published research study identified a new virus issue in honey bees. Continue reading
It has been a real treat to observe the apiary at Two Fish Farms, which now includes seven colonies. The two latest additions are a Langstroth hive and a horizontal top bar hive (HTBH) with an observation window, installed from a nuclear HTBH. I have spent many hours observing the flowering plants on the property to see what the bees are foraging on in this dry, northwestern Michigan summer. Continue reading
The US Postal Service does work on Sundays, at least at the sorting stations. I got a call at 8 AM last Sunday informing me that the six packages of bees I had ordered could be picked up any time. I jotted down directions an excitedly hit the road to pick them up. Continue reading
As livestock is an important component of sustainable farm design, I felt it important to establish livestock at Two Fish Farms this spring. Honeybees seemed the ideal choice, as larger animals require investment in fencing for pasture and outbuildings for winter protection, as well as more regular daily maintenance than honey bees.
This spring, I’ve been constructing horizontal top bar hives (HTBHs) for the farm as I’ve had free time.
I invested in two packages of bees, and the farm invested in another three packages of bees. Packages are being sourced from Wolf Creek Apiaries and are expected this week. Continue reading
I’m in the process of relocating to Two Fish Farms to oversee the farm’s development as my primary focus.
I initially visited the property last year around this time, when it was in foreclosure, the schoolhouse abandoned to mice and bats, the yard and gardens littered with trash, debris, and rusting motorized tools. Continue reading
Steller Apiaries in Jackson, Michigan hosts horizontal top bar hive (HTBH, aka Kenyan top bar hive) building workshops the first Saturday of the month February through April, and my sister and I attended the March workshop.
We’d already taken Steller’s introductory course on HTBH beekeeping and put deposits down on starter nuc colonies from Steller, so we were anxious to get our first hives built.
Keith and Jessica Steller are both very friendly and knowledgeable, and are a great resource for alternative beekeepers in southern Michigan. Continue reading
Inspecting a top bar hive at Steller Apiaries
I’ve created a page on Beekeeping, (and fixed the broken links initially posted, oops) and I’m very much looking forward to starting multiple horizontal top bar hives in 2013. And not just because I can’t wait to make my own mead…
The page includes some general information, helpful tips, and links to local sources for package bees, hive building plans, and Michigan beekeeping organizations, just in case anyone else gets a case of honeybee fever…
And I just added a couple more links on a new alternative hive design that is very interesting, the Sun Hive (German: Weissenseifener Haengekorb), a rounded Biodynamic design that is like a Skep hive, but uses crescent-shaped comb guides.