Story Review: Earl Pruitt’s Smoker by Patrick Frievald

Patrick Frievald is an Apiarist.  He makes part of his living working with bees.  He is also an author of several books in the horror genre.  When you combine beekeeping and creative writing, interesting things can happen.

In the new anthology called “Behold! Oddities, Curiosities, and Undefinable Wonders“, Patrick has a story titled “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker”.  It took me awhile, but I finally got to read the story.

Having read most of the other books by Patrick Frievald, I was curious how this would turn out given his great passion for bees and beekeeping and making delicious, spicy honey things and his supernatural thrillers that make up most of his author endeavors.

I’d bee lying if I said that “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker” was an innocent walk through the flowers in regards to telling a tale based on beekeeping.  It’s an earnest story though, giving us a passionate tale of bees, beekeeping and the smoky motives and pressures of the people who find the practice nearly an obsession.

Patrick spells an imaginative painting using his own passion for beekeeping to give an honest rendering of the world of beekeeping as only a beekeeper can see it.   I like it a lot.  It’s engaging and challenges preconceived notions about who people really are beneath the veil.

I hope you get a chance to read this story.  There just aren’t enough ‘good’ things to read about the world of beekeeping.  In fact, I can see this single tale being the beginning of an anthology in it’s own right both in following the possession of the smoker in question and the lead for other stories based on the beekeeping theme in general.

Bee Smart and read “Earl Pruitt’s Smoker” by Patrick Frievald.

What’s the point?

So, the Bee Smart beekeeping project and that goes into it here…   What’s the point of it all when there are so many other beekeeping websites out there?  I ask myself this every so often.

I am always come back to the notion that I believe that there are things about bees and beekeeping that can be introduced and communicated differently, if not better in general.

The one thing about the web is that it contains so much information yet in many ways, so little context.  People can do a Google search on seconds to get information yet still not understand it because it lacks context and perspective.  In some cases, it does get presented with context and perspective but sadly, in a way that leaves people no better off or with any better understanding than before.  In some cases, even in a worse place.

Also, Bee Smart beekeeping project is here to entertain and inform anyone who wants to understand bees and beekeeping better not just a specific group.  I want to help non beekeepers understand every bit as much as I want beekeepers of any skill level to understand.

I just hope to do so in a way that isn’t necessarily the same way as everywhere else on the internet.  That is from the perspective of beekeeping as a professional trade.    The Point of presenting information to you about bees and beekeeping isn’t so much as to influence anyone to being pro this or anti that.  It’s more of a “here’s what it is, here’s how it works, here are the pro’s and con’s of it.”

The goal is to help people be successful.  To be successful in anything to do with bees or beekeeping, you have to be informed and you have to be interested.  The Bee Smart approach to achieving being informed is to provide you with as accurate and honest information as possible.

The way we address being interested is to present the information in an entertaining (we hope) way.  When people are having fun with something, they pay more attention and usually remember it better.

Anything you can access on this website is zero cost to you.  Listen to the podcasts, watch videos, read articles and posts, download useful documents, interact on the forums.  No charge.

I have a Patreon page for people who beelieve in what I am doing here and their support helps make it possible to make everything available at no upfront cost.  I hope to get more Patreon supporters so that I can offer better quality content and more of it.  In order to get more people to become Patreon supporters, they have to beelieve in the Bee Smart beekeeping project and what it’s trying to achieve also.

Thanks to everyone who is visiting us here and finding this content useful, informative and entertaining.  Thank you greatly to our Patreon supporters for continuing to help us make it happen.

 

Awesome content coming soon

I can finally break the news!

There is a webcomic coming to the Bee Smart beekeeping project website.  Of course, the comic will be titled, “Beehooligans”.

Look for it to be posted on a regular basis and more fun and information about all things bees and beekeeping to your heads.

More in-depth information is available for our supporters on Patreon and as always, it will appear on Patreon at least the day before being posted public here.

Join our cast of characters as they define and re-define the term, “Beehooligans”.

Plastic Foundation, It Has It’s Place

Plastic foundation used in frames of bee hives has been an on and off hot topic for decades.  As usual, it is often presented as a false dichotomy of should use or should not.  The reality as most of us know lies in each situation in the objectives of the beekeeper and the needs of the colony.

We should know pro’s and con’s of plastic foundation and when it’s inclusion is an asset and when it’s not really contributing anything of use or actively working against objectives and/or needs.

Some colonies have been known to actively resist drawing out comb from plastic foundation.  Other times, bees seem to go right to it, working with it ideally.

Plastic foundation offers good purpose to beekeepers in that it doesn’t blow out like less supported combs can during extraction.  It also can encourage bees to draw combs neatly inside the frame structure and reduce or inhibit cross comb development.

Plastic foundation can resist or avoid “slumping” in high temperatures in a hive which essentially is a partial collapse of comb.  In that case, bees can be killed, including the queen.  “Slumping” can also lead to forage resources spilling onto the bottom board and drawing pests such as ants, wasps, SHB and more.  Plastic foundation, properly drawn out, can avoid those situations.

Plastic foundation can also work as great guides to help bees keep new combs straight.  Add to that the rapidity of drawing out cells in high need scenarios such as installing a package, swarm or trapout that needs to get established ASAP.  Having plastic foundation installed can get the queen laying eggs sooner and forage stored more rapidly.

I’ve listed some “pro’s” of plastic foundation and situations which benefit from the inclusion of it.  So what are some “con’s” of plastic foundation and not practical or ideal use situations?

Some colonies just resist drawing out plastic foundation.  Some ways to make it more appealing to bees that I know of are to heavily wax by rubbing it or applying melted beeswax onto it.  Spraying a sugar syrup on it has been effective in some cases to induce drawing out comb, but not always.

Sometimes bees will make a tremendous mess of things by drawing out wax perpendicular to the face of the frame resulting in cross-combing and difficulty in pulling frames during inspections.

There are those who say that it just isn’t “natural” for plastic foundation to be in hives.  One could argue that being in hives with removable frames isn’t natural either.  Also, bees will draw out comb from a number of parallel surfaces from other combs regardless of what is made from.  After doing countless cutouts, I have seen comb drawn on glass, wood, plastic, and metal.  Bees don’t care, as long as they have someplace to build comb.

Most plastic foundation is embossed with entirely one cell size.  There are various cell size foundation sheets that can be ordered now.  “Small cell” which is the size bees “naturally” produce under otherwise un-influenced situations, regular or common cell size which runs slightly larger and drone cell size is available as well.

Many natural beekeepers argue that bees will draw out multiple sized cells on each comb to meet various colony needs.  This is correct.  With some planning and manipulation, using at least two sizes of cells on plastic foundation can be workable.

Keep in mind, I am not necessarily arguing for or against the inclusion and use of plastic foundation in beekeeping.  I simply want to help make the decision about it’s inclusion as informed as possible.

Do I use plastic foundation as a self described “organic” beekeeper?  In some situations, yes.  Mostly to get cut outs and swarms started as soon as possible.  Occasionally to get combs started straight.  If they have good comb I can transfer of already have straight comb drawn out, then I won’t bother with foundation.  I see it as a facilitation, not a replacement or default setting.

As long as the effort is made to keep the plastic cleaned every so often to have clean wax drawn on it, it is a good tool.  Personally, I wouldn’t rely on it for every frame in every hive.  Then again, my beekeeping goals and objectives are somewhat different than the conventional beekeeper.

I hate the word treatment in beekeeping

People are getting all in a kerfuffle again about “treatment” or “no-treatment” beekeeping.

By “treatment” the general reference is to applying some type of chemical control inside a bee hive.  However, that word is also used synonamously with “manipulation” or introducing changes in a variety of ways to a bee hive.

First off, do I beelieve in implementing chemical controls into a bee hive?  The short answer is that yes, I do see a possible case scenario for introducing a chemical control into a bee hive.

The long answer is that I see a spectrum of a myriad of possibilities that don’t easily fit into a dichotomy.  It’s more like following an “if-then” flow chart the way I approach it.

In regard to use of toxic chemical pesticides being used as a control tactic….  It’s not likely for me.  I see those as a last ditch, worst case scenario that “might” be usable on a case by case approach.

I am just as likely to terminate a colony in such a situation as try to implement a toxic chemical control.  It depends on a variety of things that affect that particular hive and the apiary and environment that it’s in.

I have total and utter disregard for those who insist on making “treatment” or “no-treatment” a simple and absolute false dichotomy.

I prefer, as I think most do, to have colonies that do not need to have certain types of control tactics introduced such as toxic chemical pesticides.  I implement IPM in my overall beekeeping and apiary planning from the beginning.

I try to have the best understanding of natural bee biology and behavior so as to let the colonies tell me when they need help and then only give the help they need, nothing more, nothing less.

Playing political games of unnecessary absolutes is a waste of thinking people’s time, efforts and resources.

That’s just how this apiarist sees it.