-Posted by Isaac
The first week of March is special for this family.
And we make sure the extended family shares in its specialness.
This year, Mason the elder turned ten. Eden the baby turned four. They both got skates.
During this special week we all step into our respective roles. Mason and Eden: entitled, openers of gifts. Maizy and Bridger: loud, eaters of cake and ice cream. Dad: present, eater of cake and ice cream. Mom: 100% of everything else- party planner, gift buyer, food preparer, gracious host, etc...
Mom is the reason we have birthdays. She's also the reason we have a thriving business and can afford to throw these lavish parties with such decadent desserts. But lest we forget what this blog is about, let's get back to Dad. The present one. The eater of said desserts. And the beekeeper. That's right. For better or worse, Dad is the reason we have bees.
The girls are building up and looking strong. It's time to think about splits. Bees are explosive in their spring growth... we will soon be celebrating four to five hundred more birthdays.
And we need nursery boxes for all these new births. This week I traveled to Mansfield to pick up the first batch of 300 custom nuc boxes, compliments of Ohio Bee Box Co.
We then did a little customizing of our own.
And we put all the replacement frames where they belong.
As part of the Mansfield trip, I killed two birds. The first week of March is time for the big Tri County workshop at ATI. I made it over to Wooster and joined about a thousand other beekeepers in this annual event. This year they brought in the big hitters- Randy Oliver and Jamie Ellis. For two days, I mostly followed Randy Oliver.
Any of you who have had the distinct pleasure of talking to Randy Oliver know he can be somewhat abrasive in person. But sitting back and just soaking it in is a much better experience. He's a fountain of knowledge. I went to four of his talks and I must admit, I've got a crush on him. A bee crush. Just look at him strutting across that stage!
Randy filled my head with lots of bee thoughts. Management ideas. Queen rearing ideas. Varroa treatment options. Nutrition basics...
Oh yeah... nutrition. To make lots of bees, you need lots of protein. That's the gist of it.
And during the first 10 days of March, Mann Lake (We Know Bees!) runs a huge sale. Mann Lake Madness. Dry Ultrabee protein is part of it. But the deal is, you have to go and pick it up. I punched some numbers and figured that if we bought the year's protein needs now, we'd be saving over $1000. Thing is, the closest Mann Lake store is about an eight hour drive. One way. Was it worth it? Of course! You know I'm a sucker for a road trip.
In the mountains of Pennsylvania, as my eight hour trip turned into 10 hours, I began to have second thoughts. I was catching the western end of that big nor'easter that slammed the east coast and shut everything down for about three days.
Eventually, after much white knuckled driving, I made it and got my 1500 pounds of dry powder. The things we do for our babies.
The crew knew I was coming, and thankfully they waited patiently. Immediately following my departure, they shut the plant down and everyone went home to cuddle with their families.
However, my cuddling would have to wait. I probably should have been thinking hotel, but about half way across Pennsylvania the clouds parted and the late day skies turned beautiful. By then, I was lost in my birthday thoughts and I just kept driving.
Without a birthday marker amid all the chaos, it would be easy to forget that your baby, your kid is actually growing up.
With bees it's a little different. Here we have a quiet and orderly explosion.
As soon as that first extended flush of spring pollen starts rolling in, you can almost mark the calendar. In about a month, we'll be making splits, placing queens, and we'll be celebrating hundreds of birthdays.