Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Open up! It isn't a fit night out for man nor beast."

If it's not a polar vortex then it's another Alberta clipper blowing down from the icy north down into the midwest.  The weather out side hasn't been fit for man nor beast.  But not even a winter weather advisory would keep us from getting out for a little Olympic training.

 Wildlife has a rough time when the temperature gets so low with high windsBut, along the northern boarder of the tree farm where the drifts almost covered the top strand of barbed wire, there was several sets of pheasant tracks.  Which I always see as a good sign.  Then again Big Jim would reply to me  "you can't eat tracks".
 Once again Joan and Mart hosted the outing and even though the sun was shining bright, the cold temperature and high winds kept the number of skiers down to just a few.
 Marts nephew Scott making tracks.

 Back at the house we were rewarded with hot gumbo, cold beer, goobers and chocolate  chip muffins.

 Driving back home Sue and I noticed a paint horse high tailing it through the field, back to the barn.  We both thought it was kinda odd.

Another quarter mile down the road and we spotted three coyotes along the hillside.  We thought about how tough it must be for wildlife when the environment is so harsh and food so scarce . 

Not all the animals have it so rough in winter.  Tuzu and Lilli don't stray too far away from the warmth of the wood stove and the heat lamp these days.  That is, if they know what's good for them.        


Saturday, January 18, 2014


 Bee Hives, Honey Bee, Pollination

 Honey bees are our most
important pollinators.
Although many species of
bees can be found in and
around blooming orchards
and vegetable crops, most
wild bee species vary in
abundance from year to year. Some agricultural
practices destroy the natural nesting sites of wild
pollinators, and regular pesticide applications may
limit the number and variety of these pollinators.

Queen Bee, Georgia Honey
Problem: the changing pollination scene
With the introduction of parasitic honey bee
mites, the pollination picture is changing rapidly.
Once-abundant feral colonies (wild colonies
nesting in trees or other cavities) provided a
measure of pollination security for fruit and
vegetable growers. This is no longer the case. Feral
honey bee colonies are now nearly nonexistent in
many areas. Estimates vary, but Northeast Iowa may
have lost 80 percent of its feral honey bees Fewer
beekeepers are providing honey bee colonies for
growers using honey bees for pollination.  But I intend to give it a try.

2015 Hive Hosting Program

Do you want bee hives in your yard but don’t have the time or even the desire to care for them? Do you want to be part of the solution to help the plants and wildlife in your yard and neighborhood?If you want to help pollinate the neighborhood but aren’t sure if beekeeping on your own is right for you, why not be a participant in the Hive Hosting Program ?

 The program:

Becker has Hives places beehives in your neighborhood back yards, near your orchard or garden, down town business roof top or Brew Pub.
 • Apply and have your yard accepted as being suitable for the Hive Hosting Program.
•  Becker has Hives will place one or two hives on your property.
•  Becker has Hives will tend and maintain the hives throughout the year.  Harvest and extract the honey, a very sweet and sticky job.

What you get:
• The pollination benefits of honeybees in your yard for an entire year.
•A gallon of honey or more upon harvest and some comb honey in the fall if available.
• The satisfaction of knowing that you’re part of a solution by taking direct action that benefits your yard, your neighbor’s yards, and helps grow the population of honeybees in the city.
• A “bee education” that comes from the opportunity to watch the bees work every day.

What you give:
• The space in your yard to place our hives
• Permission for Becker has Hives  to have hives in your yard for up to one year
• While the hives remain on your property for an entire year, the “billing season” runs only from April through September. During the billing season you are charged $175 (6 month payment plan is available). The remainder of the year there is no charge. 

Here's how it works.
You can either rent a complete hive from me or if you want to purchase a hive, I can get you set up with one of your own.
For a monthly maintenance fee I will check the hive and take care of keeping things in order and doing all I can to keep the bees happy and healthy. You can be a part of the hive checks and extraction to any extent that you feel comfortable.

How to become involved:

• If you are a person who cares about promoting a healthy environment through your actions and wants honeybee hives in your yard, send me an email at In the subject line of the email please write “2015 Hive Host–and your last name” (putting your last name in the subject line helps me sort your application). In the body of the email please provide me with your physical address, your email address and your best contact phone number.

Our Honey Co-op is with about 10 members.   Along with keeping bees, harvesting honey and I practice and advocate for sustainable agriculture, and awareness of the natural environment.
Since I began beekeeping in 1989, beekeeping has become more and more popular but also more and more challenging.  I lose many hives over the Winter and have to replace them each Spring. I have been tending the bees and harvesting raw honey from chemical free beehives since I started.  Despite the challenges, I really love what I do and hope to continue for many years to come.
All beekeepers lose a portion of their hives each year and must replace those bees with ones purchased from Southern or Western beekeepers, which have a longer beekeeping season.
Becker Has Hives Co-op, wishes to provide you with fresh, local, seasonal honey and you, the member, wish to receive a portion of the harvest, my goal has always to provide each host with a gal., 12# of honey each season.   This agreement outlines our shared commitments to that relationship.
Honey will be harvested twice a year around the summer solstice and the fall equinox.  I promise to do my best to provide you with a harvest of honey each season. The quantity of honey, however, may vary from season-to-season due to extreme weather, disease or other production factors despite our best efforts. By joining our Coop, you are agreeing to share in all the risks of beekeeping with us and other members.   In the event of a colony collapse, infestation, or disease, our procedure is as follows:
You will receive a percentage of the honey remaining in the hive. The resulting honey will be divided. It is possible that at the end of the season another hive may have excess honey, if that is the case we will use that honey to fulfill the rest of your order.

Honey is the sticky sweet substance produced by bees from the nectar of flowering plants. Not only can honey be used as a natural sweetener for your favorite recipes, but it can also be used medicinally. In fact, honey has been a key ingredient in natural remedies for common ailments for thousands of years. Ancient cave paintings found in Spain suggest that humans have been gathering and using honey for at least 8,000 years – possibly more. Today, honey is making a comeback in herbal remedies as a treatment for everything from the common cold to gastric disturbances and even external wounds.  If your interested in learning more about my HIVE HOST program please contact me soon

Saturday, January 4, 2014


 Even with sub zero temps the dogs always manage to get us out for a hike.

 Maxine is always full of energy.

Ace on the other hand is know for periodic bursts of speed followed by unconscious treks led by his nose or stomach.
 Restocking the wood box is a daily chore and these cold days are great for splitting fire wood.

But, when I was splitting the other day I was surprised to discover this bullet lodged in an elm log. 

My guess is that it's from Thanksgiving time when my brothers Greg and Steve did some target shooting

Blizzard conditions continued overnight and today temps reached the 20's*F  with light winds.  When I ventured down to check on the Bus, I was shocked to see that the cold temps and 50 mph wind gusts combined to split the plastic on the hoop house.  Thankfully,  the split was clean and happened along a wooden brace.

Inside, secondary hoops and row cover protected the plants enough to prevent too much damage.

Smaller inner hoop.
 I used some scraps from the inner hoops to patch over the seam.  Hopefully, this will do the trick and get us through till spring.

Hopefully this triage repair work will do the trick.

 Details of some of the workman ship.

Patch work...But, it'll need a full make over before next fall.