Viewing entries tagged
bees

Mr. Beard

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Mr. Beard

A few weeks ago, I'm talking to one of our regulars at Gibsons Natural Grocer,  when she invites Aaron and I to speak at her school! Immediately my mind starts working, coming up with ideas of what to say, what to bring, how to make bee keeping interesting to four and five year olds. 

The night before, I'm gathering some materials, making honey straws for the kiddos (which my sealer stops working and wasn't able to make enough! Hmph!). I insist that Aaron do all the talking. He knows the most, he's the most experienced and in the same breath I'm asking what he's going to say, making sure he has a good intro...basically writing him a script. Ha! I simply wanted to make sure it was going to be the very best bee talk. 

The morning of, he texts me saying "The observation hive isn't going to work". WHAT. NO. IT MUST WORK. I call him, he's up to his elbows in bees, getting stung, trying to hold a phone to his head with gloves and a bee jacket on. "Please, can you try one more time to put a frame into the observation hive?" I plead. We HAVE to have it! The kids will love it! 

I collect my supplies and meet Kacy at the Lincoln Parish Early Childhood Center. The time of the presentation is approaching, and I haven't heard from Aaron. I envision him wrangling and wrestling the bees like the crocodile hunter. Literally, as the children are walking in, Aaron strides in with his bee suit (and mine) with observation hive in tow. He sets the hive on our table along with the other supplies, including a smoker, fresh flowers, some fruits and veggies, raw wax and honey. 

They introduce us. I look to Aaron, queuing the intro I prepared for him. I know he feels kind of silly with what I suggested and wouldn't have done it the same way. So I take the liberty of starting with "How many of you have been stung by a bee, raise your hand...". We explain how bees help pollinate our food, flowers, and trees. We go over the useful things bees produced like honey and wax. We also talk about the different bees in the hive and their duties. Answering questions and I think I hear one of the kids call Aaron Mr. Beard. How precious! As the classes walk out, they excitedly view the observation hive and receive a bottle of Jennings Apiaries honey to taste. 

Beekeeping, even as a beginner, has been a gratifying experience thus far (which is a whole other blog post). To be able to share what I'm learning about the bees and why they are such great insects is humbling and so fulfilling. Kacy surprised me the next day with a children's book she read to her class, signed! It's such a great book. Not only does it have a great story but also a section in the back full of bee facts. As Aaron and I continue to keep bees, I hope we are able to constantly share and learn from others. 



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What a beesy week...

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What a beesy week...

I apologize for the bee pun, but I just couldn't resist. Lauren and I were full of them last week while we did a lot of work in the apiaries.

This is the single busiest time of the year for a beekeeper in our part of the world. Spring is finally here and the bees are building up rapidly, taking advantage of the plethora of flowers and blooming trees available. We will be doing our best to just keep up with our busy girls and if we are lucky, we may get ahead! From now until the end of June, it is full throttle for beekeepers.

Not only are the bees keeping us busy, but preparations for the many farmers' markets we plan on attending are as well. This year, Lauren and I are going to sell at the Monroe River Market, the Ruston Farmer's Market, possibly the Shreveport Farmers' Market and a few sales held by different groups like the Ruston Master Gardeners. We enjoy getting out and meeting customers and other vendors.

Last week, we finished arranging hives that we have on blueberries for pollination at Homestead Hills Blueberry Farm near Choudrant, LA. 

After that, we headed to an out yard and made 9 single deep body hives from 12 hives there by doing some even (even-ish) splits. It was hot and difficult, but Lauren kept going like a champ. It's the first year I've ever had help and it makes a huge difference.

I also started raising queens to sell as cells and mated queens. Follow our Instagram to keep up to date with our queens and bee breeding. 

On Saturday we were at the first Monroe Downtown RiverMarket of the year. We had a great time and got to meet some new people. we also sold some new products and got some great feedback! Thanks to everyone that came out and took the time to talk to us. 

Along with all of that we are busy building more hives, frames and getting our top bar supers ready. Those are based off of the interview I did with Les Crowder last week. I'll keep the blog updated with our progress on transitioning into top bar hives.

This really is an exciting time to be a beekeeper and me and Lauren are looking forward to see how the rest of the year turns out. Thanks for taking the time to stop by!

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Bees and Such Podcast Episode #1

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Bees and Such Podcast Episode #1

I have wanted to start a podcast aimed at people doing similar things in beekeeping to our own plans. I finally got my first interview done and am going to post it here.

Our first interview is with Les Crowder. We talked about top bar hives and transitioning from Langstroth hives to top bar hives and a few other topics such as his work in Jamaica.

I will admit that this is a rough recording. Les was actually traveling to LA to catch a flight to Jamaica and stopped on the side of the road to have the interview. I really appreciate him taking the time to do that.

If there seems to be an audience and interest for this podcast I am willing to invest in some better sound equipment and the time to do some post processing and clean up the episodes more. I have several more interviews lined up in the next couple of weeks that I am excited about. If you are a beekeeper trying to, or already running a sideline or small scale commercial operation and want to be interviewed send me an email at jenningsapiaries@gmail.com

If there are any questions, feedback or suggestions please feel free to let me know :)

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Horizontal Hive Part #1

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Horizontal Hive Part #1

Part of our plan for keeping bees moving forward is based on using horizontal hives. We will use top bar hives primarily but also want to keep framed hives so that we can produce nucs and sell bees.

We used plans for a horizontal deep hive from Horizontal Hive. It holds 31 Langstroth deep frames. We will manage the hives in a very similar way to the top bar hives.

We made entrances by cutting 5) 1" holes on the left side of the hive about midway up. These will be the main entrance of the hive. There is another hole on the right side of the hive that will be opened up during the main flow when the bees are bringing in lots of nectar. I have seen similar ideas in vertical hives by adding an upper entrance during the main flow. 

On the back side of the hive are 3) 1" holes covered in hardware cloth that will be opened for ventilation during the hottest times of the summer.

The roof is a single sheet of 1/2" plywood. We may add hinges at a later time. Under the roof will be a long piece of burlap made from old coffee bean bags. We'll stiffen the burlap with a mix of flour and water. This will allow us to only expose the frame or frames that need to be worked and not disturb the other frames and bees. In the top bar hives I've managed, this has made the bees much less agitated and aggravated. 

The current plan is to move already boxed hives into these new horizontal hives. We will make a video of us doing this and take some pictures as well. Then we will also write another entry covering that process and how it goes.

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