Beekeeping

Honey for Sale!

honeyjar

We’ve had a beautiful busy season and the bees have provided us with a bountiful supply of honey. Sweet! Our good friends, Jim and Sally, are selling our honey at their farm, IMBY at MistyHollow in Westtown, PA (Chester County). Their address is here. Treat yourself to a visit! They sell their delicious seasonal fruits and vegetables that they grow without the use of chemical sprays, pesticides, or herbicides. You might, also, fill your shopping bag with fresh organic eggs from their hens and tempting specialty items created in their kitchen. Just look out for their sign on Street Road in Westtown.

You may not live near Westtown and, instead, live closer to the Cochranville/Oxford area in Southern Chester County.  If so; please, use our contact page.  We respond to messages quickly and we’ll see what we can do to supply you with some of the sweet stuff!

Addendum: 

Steve and Katie Stoltzfus, also, have jars of our raw honey for sale at their organic dairy: Sunset View Pastures Farm, 751 Saw Mill Road, Cochranville, PA 19330, 610-593-3038.   It is a real treat to visit their beautiful farm. You won’t be able to resist taking some of their super fresh nutritious raw milk, dairy products, and free range chicken eggs home with you!

 

 

Categories: Abundance, Beekeeping | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

The Honey Hedge

We thought that we’d like to have a visual screen between our farm and a neighboring property. My dog, Ginkgo, watches, diligently, over HER land (her boundaries go, frustratingly, beyond ours.) She can sit near J’s office and look downslope to the southeast, south, and southwest with little obstruction to her view. She watches for any activity and will, enthusiastically, announce the presence of our neighbor, our neighbor’s car, our neighbor’s guests, the buzzards and hawks that fly over the neighbor’s house, the cats in our neighbor’s yard; and, indeed, the neighbor’s Fed Ex deliveries. It, also, means that she can catch, with her sensitive nose; the presence of any delectable contribution to the neighbor’s compost pile. Oye! I thought that a hedge might reduce her easy view (sniff?) of the territory. However, I am, particularly, interested in transforming this area of mowed grass to meadow. This hedge of shrubs and trees will be the eastern edge of that meadow. Once a bit established, additional understory perennials will be planted and, over time with work, the meadow will expand out towards the west.

I decided to begin with, what I’m calling, a honey hedge. The trees and shrubs were picked with consideration for honey bee forage, general pollinator habitat, wildlife, beauty, and form. Some plants were chosen because they could, additionally, provide edibles for us. Plant needs; moisture, light, and soil conditions, were researched and, hopefully, met. I’d like to use successful plants for propagation material. I have little experience with most of these plants and have, yet, to see how they function. Need for adjustments are expected as we grow along. Here is a schematic of the hedge. The top of the page is EAST, with NORTH to the left and SOUTH to the right.

honeyhedge

 

This is a link to a chart that gives a brief description of the trees and shrubs. 

I started with laying out some flags. I had a big load of mushroom compost that was spread to visualize the shape and to mulch the area. I followed with cutting three rows with a single shank subsoiler parallel to the line of the plantings to break up compacted soil and to improve drainage. Then, I designed and marked out the plantings and ordered the plants (Cold Stream Farm and ForestFarm.) I made use of buttonbush and sumac that I had propagated myself. I mulched a portion of the plantings with cardboard and straw. It became clear that I had to protect the tiny plants when I started noticing that they were being nibbled by, I believe, bunnies. Hannah took care of cutting and placing scrap tubing and hardware cloth that we found in the barn around the plants. The following image shows just the beginning of planting. The tubes that you see in the photo are not part of the designed honey hedge. I have many new trees and shrubs planted in other areas that I hope will help our honeybees including Sourgum, American and Littleleaf Linden, Spicebush, Sourwood, BeeBee Trees, Hop Hornbeam, Pussywillow, and brambles to name a few. Now, we just have to wait until spring to see what happens next!

honeyhedge

Categories: Beekeeping, Flora, Gardens, Shrubs, Trees | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Dear CCBA,

A couple of days ago, I looked toward the bee yard. The honey bees were blasting to and from their hives…just as they should have been…and it made me feel really grateful. Thus far, it has been a good season for the bees and we owe much of that success to the Chester County Beekeepers Association (CCBA), our local club. We started going to meetings late last fall. Participating in the activities of this club has made a direct impact on our bees’ health and on their honey production.

apiary

We limped out of the winter with four hives. I believe we lost 60% of our hives because of poor management last season; primarily, related to lack of mite control. We have learned a lot this season with the club. No doubt, there are areas where we could be doing more and areas where we should be doing less. We’ll get some real feedback on how we are doing after the winter….but seeing the honey bee activity on a hot summer morning made me feel very, very good.

Some of the things that we’ve learned from CCBA that are making a difference:

  • Taking advantage of making nucs to expand the apiary
  • Strategies for overwintering hives
  • Swarm prevention strategies such as the modified Demaree method. It works!
  • How and when and what to feed the bees
  • Mite control strategies including removing drone brood and using oxalic acid drip and vapor
  • Raising queens
  • What to plant for bees…plants that provide the nutrition that they need and the honey that we love.
  • When and how to extract honey

Why do we go to the monthly meetings?

  • We need to learn What we should be doing to keep the bees healthy and producing lots of honey…and When and How and Why.
  • Camaraderie. Making connections. We love being around these people!
  • Enthusiastic information exchange.
  • Opportunities for us to share our personal interests and experience with the club. This club makes us feel that we are important to the life of the organization.
  • We get access to vendors and bargains and resources.
  • There are door prizes!
  • Tastings!
  • Encouragement and inspiration and, sometimes, a little hand-holding
  • Great monthly programs! August’s meeting featured Keith Jardine (the club president) presenting “Making beekeeping simple.” I wish that this entertaining monologue was recorded! Very funny! Aside from the jokes, though, the talk helped to give a realistic view on the tricky art and practice of beekeeping. It put beekeeping strategies into perspective as they relate to the beekeeper’s goals. Great stuff!

Special features of this club include:

  • A dedicated beginners club,
  • Mentors that have years of experience and knowledge in the practice of beekeeping AND stay active in the club,
  • Discounts made possible through bulk purchases by the club,
  • Queen breeding program,
  • Grant opportunities,
  • An outstanding annual beekeepers conference,
  • An active mentorship program,
  • A swarm help list,
  • “Hive crawls,”
  • A new dedicated club apiary,
  • Bee forage plant, tree, and seed sales,
  • A loan program for club equipment,
    • and more!

Thank you so much, CCBA!

With sincere gratitude to all the members of CCBA,

Michaelann and Jerome

Categories: Beekeeping | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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