Sunday, January 12, 2014

To Bee or not to Bee

We tried bee-keeping last year and met with disaster.

We had purchased a pack of carnolian bees from Queen's Right Colonies in Spencer, Ohio in January and eagerly awaited their arrival.

We picked up our bees in early May and brought them home to their new hive at Stonepath.

From the start things seemed wrong. The hive frames were not filling quickly, but being new to bee-keeping no alarm bells sounded.

In the middle of July, we began to notice lots of dead and dying bees on the path leading to the hive. When I say lots. I mean hundreds or more.

We talked to some other bee-keepers and they thought that perhaps the bees got into insecticides at a field nearby.

We helplessly watched as the hive dwindled in size. Eventually, they could no longer defend the hive from wasps, flys, and other intruders.

Eventually, in early August we found the hive empty. Our thought was that the hive had swarmed.

We were heart-broken and not sure that we wanted to try again. It seemed to us that we lacked the ability to keep bees.

Flash forward to yesterday. We decided to find some answers and make a decision to try again or not based on what we found.

We printed pictures of the hive at various points when we knew we were in trouble. We took those pictures and the hive, itself, to Queen's Right Colonies to, hopefully, get some answers.

The owner of Queen's Right, looked at our evidence and immediately deduced that all the cells made were drone cells. No worker cells were evident.

His conclusion was that we had a sterile queen.

The hive was doomed from the start. There was evidence that the drones had tried to stave off disaster by building queen cells, but with a sterile queen there was no hope.

The bottom line was that our hive did not swarm, it just faded away.

The good news is that it was not our fault. The only way we might have prevented the catastrophe was by recognizing the problem early.

Joining a local bee-keeper group is now our top priority. The experience that such clubs offer might have help us to identify our problem and perhaps find a solution.

Armed with new confidence, some answers, and a lots of good information, we ordered another pack of bees for this spring!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rain, Rain, go away!!!

The rain just keeps coming. The good news is that the veggies at StonePath are growing like a rain forest, however, the bad news is that the weeds at StonePath are also growing like a rain forest.

We desperately need to get weeding, but the rain is making it tough. Our bees are equally not pleased with the situation.

Hopefully, we can get some maintenance started tonight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Why we do it

It's been a while since I posted here and I know I need to get consistent. Hopefully, I will be able to keep the blog moving along with all the doings at StonePath.

This post will be a short, re-introduction to what we are doing at StonePath, whyt we do it, and what's the point. Some of the people who follow this blog already know much of the answers, but others may not.

Our goal is to inspire others to start grabbing more self-sufficiency and a little control back into their lives, no matter how much land they have to use (or even containers for those who live in an apartment) or funds available to spend.

StonePath sits on a relatively small country lot in southern portion of Northeast Ohio. The available land we have to use is roughly 1/2 acre give or take. Our goal is to grow 70% of the vegetables our family will use in a year from the available space we have.

It's a daunting task, however, small scale agriculture techniques are really coming into their own. Small scale, super-intensive gardening is becoming more and more necessary as the available farm land is purchased and turned into sub-divisions.

The days of large family farms providing all the food for the country are slipping away. I read that the average age of the American farmer is now 58. The decline in farming comes from many sources, they include; a) the younger generations are entering college and profeesional less willing to take ovver the family farm,  b) The enormous cost of running a large farm in this economy is forcing many farmers to leave, c) The changing and very uncertain climate of late is causing real challenges in production, and there are many others.

All of these factors point to, what I believe, is a coming crisis in food production.

Similar to the above situation is the ever growing use of genetic modification of the food supply. I plan to discuss this more in a future post, however, it is worth mentioning now because it is one of the large reasons we have decided to grow organic and control what we eat.

As I move forward with the blog, I am taking the blog back to basics, and will describe what we are doing and why to help others to take the leap into small scale, intensive Microfarming.