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Honeyrun Farm produces pure raw, honey, handcrafted soap, and beeswax candles in Williamsport, Ohio

Blog

Whaddya been up to?

Jayne Barnes

-Posted by Isaac

I like to think that I can make it around every two weeks. But the truth is, more often it’s probably closer to a month between visits.

This round, I’ve started in on the protein.

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I think it’s good for the bees. But I don’t know how good. You beekeepers have probably noticed that there is definitely a diminishing stream of pollen coming in. Healthy pollen, I mean. There’s plenty of corn pollen, but I think that’s worse than nothing at all. I tell myself that the bees need the protein, that we need to keep them brooding strong into the goldenrod.

And over the last four or five years I’ve been doing this, I think I’ve seen stronger hives and more fall honey as a result.

I think…

But maybe I’m just fooling myself. Sometimes I have a nagging thought that I’m wasting my time.

It’s a lot of work! You don’t just pop a lid and throw the protein in. You’ve got to get down to the brood.

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This involves removing all the supers, then splitting the brood boxes. It can be hot, heavy work when the supers are honey laden. But that’s a good thing, right?

And surely an additional (albeit unnecessary?) visit to the bees is a good thing. I love to see what they’ve been up to. This time of year, it gets me excited.

Wow! You guys have been busy!

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It’s nice to see the honey building up. And it’s also fun to think about how much has happened since my last visit. The supers were empty a month ago. It was basically a different generation of bees.

Bee life in July— While I went about my routine in the people world, their world changed. In June they were just hanging out. Now, popping a lid, I immediately see… summer excitement for this generation.

The bees have been going about their lives the entire time. Then one day a big dumb (but benevolent) guy peeks in and says, “Whaddya been up to?’

This week the question has been bouncing around my brain in other ways. A bee will live six weeks in the summer. A person gets 80 years or so. Day to day, it’s tough to look beyond the moment, but sometimes we’re reminded— things are changing!

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Dad was cleaning out his filing cabinets last week and brought us this old picture.

Yes, how things have changed! This house was built in 1903. We moved here in 2006 and removed seven layers of wallpaper when we wanted to paint the rooms. Meaning, there were other worlds, other lives long before the List family and the Barnes family.

And surely we won’t be the last.

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Whaddya been up to?

In the same folder was a bunch of other pictures, newspaper clippings and letters. One letter, dated Sept ‘99 was from an old college buddy.

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It was written just a few months after we had graduated and had ourselves a big western adventure. Being educated, broke and jobless, we decided to spend the summer biking all over the Rockies.

We’re going to see him next week. I can hardly wait to give him the letter. And you can guess what my first question’s going to be.

Whaddya been up to?

Let’s scale it up….

Amazing what you can find in old filing cabinets. Here’s an interesting one—

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This was post-Kennedy assassination, pre-Oswald assassination. Turbulent times.

I wonder what JFK would make of our current political waters? I mean, if he were to suddenly appear and ask our question… having no knowledge of the last 56 years.

I’ll bet he’d be pleased.

No, I’m serious! I’ll bet he’d smile, maybe even laugh with joy. We’re still here! We haven’t yet nuked ourselves into oblivion! He’d celebrate. Besides, do we really even need the gold standard in national leadership? Let’s face it, Kim Jong Un is no Nikita Khrushchev.

Whaddya been up to?

Scaled even further…

We went down to see ‘Tecumseh!’ this week. Probably my fifth or sixth time. (They sell our products, so I guess we owe it to them.) Yes, I did hear the loud “PHOTOGRAPHS ARE STRICTLY PROHIBITED” announcement at the beginning, but when the rainbow came out, I couldn’t help myself.

What were they going to do, scalp me?

What were they going to do, scalp me?

I’m a big Alan Eckert fan and I’ve really loved learning about Ohio’s bloody history during the Indian war time period. This was only 200 years ago! And right here! But what a world away.

I was listening closely, trying to hear a famous quote attributed to Tecumseh. Sure enough, it came near the end. Just before the final battle, Tecumseh was arguing that William Henry Harrison had no claim to the land that his encroaching government had supposedly purchased. To the natives, the concept of personal land ownership was foreign.

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In the end, Harrison teaches us how we deal with socialists— we kill them.

I was thinking about all this the other day on my honey deliveries to Columbus. I gawked at all those big buildings. I marveled at the Guild House wine selection, at the One Line coffee selection. I flew along the asphalt path, death defying speeds, saddled within my horse of steel and glass. Here we are, 200 years later.

Wow! We’ve been busy!

When I got home, flipping through a magazine, there he was again— Tecumseh!

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But this time he was selling stuff. To the foreigners.

I wondered… what if a big old (but benevolent) God had walked away 200 years ago, only to come back now and pop the lid? Peeking in…

Hmmm…

Whaddya been up to?

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Mitigations

Jayne Barnes

-Posted by Isaac

Yesterday the radio said that we’ve just suffered through the hottest June ever recorded. By we, I mean the world. Not Ohio. In fact, come to think of it, I’m surprised they even allow that kind of fake news ‘round these parts.

And I hear the climate dorks are really crowing in Europe these days. It seems they’ve had a little heat. But I’m happy to say our long lost Seth has found ways of mitigating these trivial problems.

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We got an email from him this week. All about his adventures in Italy and beyond. He’s trying to tease us into making a trip, and it may just work. We’ll see.

I just hope he doesn’t forget his beekeeping roots. Hearing about all this fun, seeing all these new cultures, I worry that he’s losing his good ol’ boy core. His O-H-I-O. Will he forget what it’s like here in the Buckeye? It’s easy to lose things.

For instance, it takes principle, talent, courage, and true midwestern stubbornness to remain a climate denier with the heat index at 107.

What heat?? C’mon Seth, it’s downright cold in the shade!

What heat?? C’mon Seth, it’s downright cold in the shade!

This kind of talent has not yet developed in other, shall we say, fact-based societies. It easily slips away if you leave the Heartland and travel around.

Will we ever get him back?

We’re missing our Seth, and this week we were missing our kids too. They took a road trip to far Grandma’s.

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Leaving Jayne and I to fend for ourselves.

And we got so much done! We ate out at three fancy restaurants and made it through six Game Of Thrones. We enjoyed the quiet. We read. We conversed. It was uncanny at first, as we both expected to be interrupted any second. It’s almost unnerving… unbroken conversation for longer than a minute. No barking intrusions, no fights to break up.

I do miss them, the kids, but I have to say I’m also going to miss the quiet. Yesterday Jayne headed north to get them and I spent the evening alone watching the sun go down.

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With only my ladies of the night to keep me company.

The bee work didn’t stop or slow with our heat wave. In fact, this whole month I’ve been putting in some long days. Not just to super hives for the soybean flow.

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You beekeepers will recognize those white strips as formic acid mite treatment.

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I got everybody treated in early June, and since then I’ve been going around trying to fix the problems. Formic acid is an organic treatment that can be used with honey supers on. It does a great job killing mites, but it’s also a bit hard on the bees. Every year I’m getting better at keeping yard records, and this year I really wanted to quantify the damages attributed to the treatment. I found out that close to 20% of the hives will kill the queen and end up with emergency cells.

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This is not good.

I knew that this happened with a formic treatment, and I used to console myself with the fact that most of the killed queens were the old ones. Plus it was still early, plenty of time to make a new queen and come back in good shape for fall honey. But I have sort of changed my thinking… Do you really want queens from emergency cells? Isn’t this kind of a gamble?

Not only are you potentially missing the summer honey, but you’re really taking some chances with the quality of queen who will be taking that hive through the winter. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized I had to take some action.

This was going to be an expensive mite treatment.

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Every hive got inspected, if the bees had killed their queen, a new one went in. I have now installed over 100 beauties from California, turning a $2000 mite treatment into a $5000 treatment+mitigation. Wow. Those beauties aren’t cheap.

But you know, I feel good about it. I’m feeling confident that I did something right. You can’t always count on the bees. Especially dealing with formic acid. Sometimes they mess up. For whatever reason, they lose their collective mind and put somebody in the highest office who just isn’t fit to serve.

SEND HER BACK!

SEND HER BACK!

Good thing humans never do that.