Bee Smart, Bee Active, Bee Happy

The Bee Smart beekeeping project is about conservation, education and training, and having fun.

Bee Smart is set up to rescue and relocate honey bees and bumblebees from locations where they are at risk of extermination or due to circumstances of location, pose a threat or risk.  The Bees are taken alive as much as possible and relocated eventually to the new teaching apiary that is being hosted at Scatter Joy Acres, which is an acreage that focuses on animal rescue and animal therapy.

Through the Bee Smart beekeeping project I have developed a series of beekeeping classes for people that want to learn about bees and beekeeping or expand their knowledge base if they are already involved in beekeeping.  There is also an upcoming series of Bee Smart classes focused on native bees found in North America and especially in our local area.  These classes are for a gone curious to know more about how to identify and provide habitat for native bees.

Most of these classes are offered through places like Metro Community College and hopefully soon at nature and garden attractions like Lauritzen Gardens.  They can be provided to private and non-profit organizations as well by appointment.

At the developing Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary at Scatter Joy Acres, apprentice beekeepers can get hands-on experience learning skills by doing them.  These folks are called my “Beehooligans” and are often active in apicultural adventures such as assisting with live bee rescues, capturing swarms, maintaining the hives, and harvesting from the hives.

One of the fun aspects is doing the bi-monthly podcast which is like a radio show on the internet.  These are recorded live at the ranch and any Beehooligans attending that particular day are welcome to sit in and chat about all things bees and beekeeping.

By being a “Beehooligan”, people can gain practical experience, work alongside others with the same interest, and build a network or support for themselves and each other.  On top of that, if a person wants to be involved in beekeeping but doesn’t have the space or other things necessary to keep bees on their own, this gives them the opportunity to still be a beekeeper at the teaching apiary.

Get involved with the Bee Smart beekeeping project.  Learn more, do more, enjoy it more.

Honey Bees Got 99 Problems, Don’t Be Another One

They can actually make problems worse.  I know they mean well, those folks who begin conversations about honey bees requiring proper management care and attention by describing bees as woeful, abused victims of beekeepers.

Everyone has heard the stories about if honey bees, being left alone, would live in cozy trees, mind thrown beeswax and live in perfect harmony with the world.  Then the beekeepers showed up…

Honey bee colonies, entirely of their own volition, will move into just about any place that meets their minimum requirements for environmental and defensive purposes.  Dry, high, and warm.

Honey bee colonies will choose to build their nests in trees, caves, roofs, barns, grain bins, under decks and grills, in the eaves of a house, under the limb of a tree.  I have relocated honey bee nests from all of those places and more.  No beekeeper put them in those places.

Honey bees are incredible, terrifically wondrous creatures.  They can also be incredibly dumb.  Suicidally dumb in fact.

They will build nests in places that are almost certainly unsustainable for them.  It happens more than you’d think.  In fact, beekeepers hives are often a far greater nest site than most of the places we take them out of.

Beekeepers can often be the biggest problem honey bees have to contend with.  We have a tendency to not leave them alone.  We want to “help” them by applying treatments but fail to first understand not only proper application of said treatments but the circumstances, conditions and assessment procedures that should always precede any such treat to ensure they are necessary, required, or appropriate.

Beekeepers frequently fall into one of two common honey harvest problem groups for honey bees.  The first is harvesting too much.  The other being not harvesting enough.  Put bluntly, honey bees are one of handful of creatures that will produce more than they need.  Honey bees will make honey as long as there are nectar sources and space available.  By “space available”  I mean even to the point that they use all the space otherwise needed for the queen to lay eggs.

Honey bees will create a situation called being “honey bound” meaning they cannot grow the colony in space due to lack of hive boxes and lack of drawn comb that hasn’t already been filled with honey.  Colonies have killed themselves off or created an “abandon ship” situation by over producing honey.

Beekeepers that don’t harvest honey accordingly put bee colonies at risk as much as those who harvest too much.

Honey bees create enough actual problems for themselves as well as dealing with slew of environmental, predator and pathogenic problems they have already.  The last thing honey bees need is misinformed, overdramatic, hyperbole to distract beekeepers from becoming best informed, experienced and prepared to properly manage hives.

 

UPDATE ON MCC BEEKEEPING CLASSES 2018!!!

OK beehooligans.
I got the most recently updated class schedule for all of the beekeeping classes being offered through Metro Community College at the new North Express location.
 
The classes are all on Saturdays from 10 am till 1 pm beeginning April 7th, 2018.
 
The classes are NOT listed in the paper or online Spring catalog for MCC due to timing of class listing. You can still register for the classes listed on the Bee Smart website by calling the phone number(s) listed in the class description.
 
Please visit the Bee Classes page and go to April and May on the embedded calendar to get the class information for each class being offered.
 
The Applied Beekeeping class, a hands-on class, will bee the only class NOT at the North Express MCC location. It will take place at the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres instead.

Beekeeping Classes Resume This Spring At MCC

I am kicking off a new basic level series of beekeeping classes at Metro Community College this Spring in April.  Unfortunately, the classes didn’t make the cut for the catalog but they will be available.  I will post all the relevant registration information on this website when the class details are released.

These are not short version classes but are offered in detail with comprehensive information about each subject to help beekeepers to make more informed decisions in their apicultural efforts.

Is Domestic Honey Going The Way of Craft Brewing

Domestic or local honey is entering an new era of “craft” production and presentation. The degree of effort and ingenuity that many beekeepers are putting into their honey products is nothing short of amazing.

Most honey sold in the U.S. now is imported.  The majority of the honey you find on store shelves and baked into the foods that use honey comes from South America and Asia.  Yes, a lot of that “banned” Chinese honey still finds it’s way into the country via “honey launderers” in Europe and U.S. honey packers that really don’t care what is in the honey they import, as long as it’s cheap.  They are going to blend it all anyway.

Where does that leave domestic honey?   Some of it, mostly produced by commercial pollinator bee businesses, does find it’s way into the big honey packers.  It too gets blended into the job lots of imported honeys to add to the flavor and allows the packers to say that the honey they offer is also domestic.

What of the rest?  More and more, we’re beginning to see a rise of artisan honey.  Local producers working to time their harvests to get small but unique bouquets of nectar based honey that become sought out and bought by locals and new “Honey Connoisseurs” that live to experiment with honey the way other people collect and sample fine wines, scotch and spices.

C. Marina Marchese and Kim Flottum, both established beekeepers and authors, co-wrote a book titled “Honey Connoisseur” that has swept the imagination and taste-buds of beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike by introducing readers not only to the nectar sources that produce exquisite honeys but delightful ways those honey can be identified, matched with other foods and drinks and used in cooking as more than just a sweetener.

Other honey craftsmen are getting into the infused honey market and are delicately blending other, unique, flavors into their locally collected honey.  I know a beekeeper in New York State with a burgeoning side business that infuses some of the hottest peppers into his honey and is picking up like gangbusters.  It’s an awesome thing to experience according to those who rave and beg for more even when his supply is sold out for the year.

The mead makers are still out there making their finest honey wine and beer.  This is now even further accentuated with the explosion of craft brewing.  The possibilities now for honey based brews is staggering.  Alcoholic honey beverages aren’t alone.  There’s a slowly building community of honey based soda and non-alcoholic drink makers making an entry into the craft honey beverage realm as well.  Here in my own back yard  down in Bellevue, NE we have a fellow who makes a spectacular mead AND a honey root beer that is simply awesome.  His business has built quite a reputation for creative honey beverages.

As domestic apiculture moves further into the twenty-first century, we will see, I believe, an explosion of “craft” honey offerings.  Honey producing beekeepers, hobbyists and professional apiarists alike, have their work cut out for them to find ever creative and unique ways to expose new customers to not just local honey, but custom, crafted honey products and uses.

Quite a delicious problem to take on.

New Beeginnings for the Bee Joyful Apiary

We literally break ground this coming weekend to start setting hive stands at the new teaching apiary at Scatter Joy Acres up in Florence.

We are starting off with 2 new interns, 1 full apprentice and 2 volunteer assistants.

We are still encouraging people to donate materials and resources directly to Scatter Joy Acres and if you would like to support the Bee Smart beekeeping project effort to manage the apiary, train new Apiarists, and provide positive interaction opportunities for visitors, please consider supporting us over at my Patreon page for the Bee Smart beekeeping project. Our Patreon supporters will have exclusive access to video updates on the progress of the apiary throughout the year.

Part of the work I do is live bee removals around the Omaha metro area.  As I rescue these bees before they might be killed, I will start them in a process to hopefully end up at the Bee Joyful Teaching Apiary.  Again these live removal efforts are greatly helped by our Patreon supporters whose patronage helps to reduce costs of work for low income people.  Costs can get very high trying to open up and repair an opening where a bee nest is removed.

My goal is to help people bee better beekeepers and keep bee alive and thriving.  My apprentices want to to be that kind of beekeeper as well.  With projects like this that allow us to offer fun, informative and creative content to share with the world, everyone comes out a winner.  Your patronage at the Patreon page help create winners.

Notable and Notorious Beekeepers

The topic for the Bee Smart beekeeping project website this week is learning a bit more about the notable and notorious beekeepers that have moved the world of beekeeping over the years.

Some have given us great innovations in methods and equipment.  Others have increased our understanding immensely.  Still others have given us experience in what not to do rather than do what they actually did.

Let’s chat about some if the great minds and personalities that have helped modern apiculture become what it is today, shall we?

Honey Lovers Club @ Mangelsen’s

Do you love Honey?  Have you thought of yourself as a honey connoisseur or would like to be?  Terrific !

Come join us at the new Honey Lovers Club @ Mangelsen’s in Omaha, NE on Saturday afternoon, November 25th from 1 to 2 pm.

We will sample various honey, talk about how to identify honey and beegin the journey to appreciate honey in all it’s culinary potential together.

Hosted by Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval of BBE-Tech Apiary Services and the Bee Smart beekeeping project.

Please register at the Mangelsen’s website to beegin this journey of honey appreciation with us.

 

The Bee Smart Topic for the week of 11-06-2017

Hey there folks.  We are still trying to maintain a certain focus on the things we post on here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project on a weekly basis.

This week, we’re going to pay a bit more attention to bees and pesticides.  Both the Crossword and Wordsearch puzzles are based on this topic and Big Bear will be doing a video doing a mini “class” on the subject as well.

Hop on over to the website forums and share your ideas and experiences having to do with bees and pesticides in your little piece of the world.  We’d love to see you there.

The Bee Smart beekeeping project podcast beegins again

Yes, things are getting back on track on especially awesome.

The Beehooligans Podcast will start recording again by the end of the Month and get at least one episode out by then.. We are jumping from being a weekly podcast to every two weeks instead.  

Also, we’re focusing on assembling a live, local group of beekeeperly people to a round table discussion and one or two of our alternately located Beehooligans via web conferencing in on the chat.

And hey, if you happen to be in the Omaha, NE area on one of the days we record, we’d love to have you sit in with us.