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Your host---Bee Talk---Days Gone By

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November in Texas is a good time to inspect your hives for winter stores, diseases, population and for pulling empty boxes. Make sure that your hives are in good shape for making it through the winter months. This inspection is the most important inspection of the year. If your bees can't make it through the winter months, then spring time really doesn't matter. If a good inspection is performed now, then your hives will stand the best chance to emerge from winter in the best shape possible for the spring honey flow.

I submitted my new book; Beekeeping: A Personal Journey to "Kim Flottum" (Bee Culture) for review. He is like the Simon Cowell of the book review world. It was a little scarey because he can make or break a books performance. Fortunately, he gave my book a good review which he will be placing in the November issue of the Bee Culture magazine. My book is now available on this website under the book page. It is a secured site.

Bee Talk

  Peggy, 

My husband and I drove to Amarillo last weekend, and that gave us (one or the other) 16 hours to devote to your husband's bee book.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  The most fascinating part of all of it is how much your husband cares for these creatures.  I've been talking to my 5 year old grandson about the bee book and how we can actually visit the bee yard.  He lives in Austin, so I'm not sure when we might be able to schedule that. Thanks so much for sharing this book. 

Linda Schulte

 Hello Dennis, 

We just finished reading your book today. Your organic heart and soul shine through on just about every page. It is obvious that you have a great love for Mother Nature, as well as Her magnificent creatures - - - the honeybees. Each of us had our own particular, "Ah-hah" moments as we read your book. The illustrations are also just adorable!

If we could personally spend time with you, we think we'd like you alot. :)

Sam will post a note to the MOVBA website within the next several days - - - - soon as Joyce can get him out of the honey shed long enough to do it!!!!

Keep on buzzin.         Sam and Joyce Hammett

 Dennis, 

I wanted to finish your book before I wrote and did so last night. I really enjoyed reading it. It covers just about everything that you teach in class. The opportunity to work in your yard with you was such a great chance to learn. All the time in class is great but nothing takes the place of hands on experience. I really liked your trick of using the queen excluder to allow the brood to hatch off of frames that you needed to exchange.

I just completed a mite check on both hives and the numbers were a little high on both. I had the board on for a little over 48 hours and had about 25 mites on each board. I'm thinking of testing again in a few days and see how that goes.

I made a mistake on one of the hives by not going into it for too long and complicated it by having my spacing (9frames) a little too wide on one wall. I had brood and honey comb being built between the top and bottom brood boxes and honey comb built to the side that was too wide. It made a mess and it was very difficult to remove the frames but got through it OK. I hope they can repair the comb on the side near the wall. 

Other wise, lots of pollen coming in. It is coming in from at least two kinds of plants. One is the same bright yellow like I saw in your yard last week and the other is very pale cream color.

Thanks again for your patience in helping rookies like me to become beekeepers.

Regards,    Brian

 Brian, 

I am glad that you enjoyed my book. Your mite count maybe OK for now because the queen is very busy laying winter bees. The more brood that you have the higher your mite count becomes. Check it again in a month or so and let me know.    Dennis

 Hello everyone,

 I just read Randy Oliver’s article about using Mite-Away strips in the September Issue of the American Bee Journal. I am blown away how he or anyone else could possibly think by putting these chemicals into a hive is a good thing. He talks about how it kills bees, brood and sometimes even the queen. He shows a picture of how the grass in front of the hive is dying from the fumes the chemical emits. How can anyone in their right mind think that this is a good thing for the bees? I just don't get it. If the general public knew what these beekeepers were dumping into their hives, it would make it near impossible for us to sell our honey in the open market.      Dennis

Dennis,

This could serve as an example of the attitude of much of the agricultural industry today.  Sadly, it has become more an issue of quantity versus quality when it comes to producing crops, with little or no regard to the consequences or long-term effects to the health of the consumer or to the animals and crops involved. It becomes increasingly difficult for the consumer to know if what they are eating might not eventually be detrimental to their well-being.

In the case of chemicals being used on our bees, if this practice does not destroy this vital creature, it might well play a role in our eventual destruction.

 Good morning Dennis,

Just a short note about something interesting I observed this weekend. We had several watermelons in our garden that we had not picked yet and something, a coon probably, ate holes in a couple of them. Before we could throw the melons to our chickens, bees found them. There were probably a hundred or more bees going after these watermelons. The bees liked them so much I'm thinking of cutting open a couple more for them. I found all of this interesting because I had never noticed bees eating watermelon before. It was especially cool to watch the seed spitting contest, it was won by a drone wearing a John Deere hat and overalls by the way.        Jerry

Hello Jerry,

I have seen bees go after melons before. This time of year they will go after anything that has sugar in it even your soft drinks. I have never witnessed bees performing a seed spitting contest before. That is pretty cool. Were the contestants checked for chemical use before they entered the competition?    Dennis

 Dear Dennis:

Thank you for the information. My decision to go treatment free with bees, no matter what the costs, was based upon my belief that honey should be delivered as a product of the hive, in a pure unadulterated form. I kept bees during the late 70s through the mid 80s, never treating during that time either, but of course it was much easier.

I went into the winter last year with 8 colonies, 1 which was weak. I had 7 make it through the winter as the weak one died.

Because of the drought, and my guess that this year would not be productive for honey sales, I decided to expand my apiary. I have sold 5 colonies and have expanded my own apiary from 7 to 16. In doing so I have moved all my deep equipment out of my apiary, converting to all mediums, for ease in switching between brood chambers and honey supers; and to reduce the weight of 80- 90# deep honey supers. In this age we have to roll with the punches dealt to us and make the best with what we have. I had hopes of making it to 20 colonies this year, but have felt it is better to have 16 strong colonies, than 20 with several weaker.

Again, thanks for being such an encouragement. Sometimes it gets lonely in the wilderness.

Kindest Regards,      Danny Unger

 Hello Danny,

 Good to hear from you. It is my understanding that the drought will continue all threw next year as well. I have actually reduced my hive numbers. There has been numerous honey producing plants/trees that have died already and that in its self will limit the amount of forage for the bees next year. It is tough times and I encourage everyone to stick with hive numbers that they can care for right now.

Keep me posted on your operation and as always you can email me anytime.    Dennis

Days Gone By