Monday, March 31, 2014

BEEKEEPING SCHOOL SUMMARY

Warning, long post!

So I got up at 5:15am.  Showered, dressed and headed out by about 6:15am.  It's a lovely drive from Houston to Brenham, about 65 miles NW.  Pretty much just getting on one freeway and driving until you exit, turn right and arrive!



When I arrived, there was already a line at the check in table.  They had over 500 participants registered.  It was awesome!  We all received these yellow gift bags that were full of catalogs and brochures and magazines, all related to bees and beekeeping.




Since I was a bit early, I did partake in the breakfast of champions; donuts and hot tea with some bee reading!




Of course, there would be local honey for sale, I mean what kind of beekeeping school wouldn't have that? LOL.  The first class of the morning was two and a half hours.  It was called "Beekeeping 101: For Beginners".  It lasted from 9:00am to 11:30am.  The time FLEW by.  So much good info and the instructor was great.  He went through things step by step, how the hive works, anatomy of bees, how the colony is organized, pests, where to put your hive, feeding, wintering, etc.  LOTS of info, handouts and a bunch of handwritten notes.  For a brief moment, I had a college flashback.



Then it was time for lunch, traditional Texas fare at an event like this, smoked BBQ chicken, sausage, potato salad, beans, pickles, onions and white bread.  It was yummy!





...oh, and being that the fairground in Brenham, TX is just a few blocks up the road from the Blue Bell Ice Cream factory, there was, of course, Blue Bell homemade vanilla for dessert (I did not eat that entire box).



After lunch, there was time to visit some of the demonstrations before the next class.  Here was a demonstration of hive building from kit form. Fascinating but it made me realize I will buy hives that are already built, ha.



This was a hive inspection demonstration.  It was nice to see children involved and interested in bees.  Lots of children there and they truly seemed interested.


Then I visited the vendors area where they had all sorts of honey related products.  This is a Texas winery that produces mead, a honey wine.  I tried a couple.  One was delicious and sweet but another tasted like cough syrup, ha.  I wanted to sample them all but didn't want to come across as a lush or something.




This lady brought her painted beehives to display.  Very pretty!  Her beekeeping tool box (on the side) was painted purple.  I would love to see her bee yard.



Then it was time for a smoker demonstration.  It was really nice to see how the smoker is lit and used...as long as you weren't standing downwind, ha.




Had to swing by the table with all the home baked 'honey goodies' and t-shirts and gift baskets from the local clubs.



I was really loving this sparkly new, white, Langstroth hive.  It was part of the grand prize raffle that was held at the end of the day.*

*Alas, I did not win.


There were also vendors there that were not bee related but certainly interesting to see and chat with.  We're going to look into these large cistern rain collection tanks once we get gutters up on the house.




The last demonstration I attended was on honey extraction.  That was fascinating, as I had never seen the entire process.



She showed how the frames were prepped (decapping) and then put into the honey extractor.  It uses centrifugal force to spin the honey out without damaging the combs. She tipped it over when it was done...





...and poured out some wonderful, fresh from the comb, honey.







After eating lunch, visiting vendors and watching the demonstrations, I finished up the rest of the classes I signed up for:

"What Should I Order?  A Trip Through the Catalog"
"Beekeeping as a Property Tax Exemption"
"Beescapes: Choosing Honey Plants for Gardens, Landscapes & Rural Land"

The day was over about 5pm.  I learned a LOT, took tons of notes, and I'm already perusing through the catalogs and creating a list of what to buy.  I think I may have even already pinpointed a spot at the farm to make a bee yard.


This is pretty cool.  When you checked in, they had participants' names printed on little slips of paper.  They gave you your name and a pin and you pinned it on this map of Texas to show where you came from.  The red dot is where the school was held so you can see how far away some people came.  Those slips outside the map?  They are from other states!

I'll share the things I learned in upcoming posts so I can spread the knowledge.

We have two thank you shout outs to give.  The first is to blog commenter JM and his wife.  They are the ones who tipped us to the school just in time to sign up for it.  Thank you both!!!   And of course, we would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who helped organize and teach the school.

Central Texas Beekeeping Association




15 comments:

jaz@octoberfarm said...

what a onderful day! i can't wait to follow your progress!

Katie C. said...

I didn't realize that there was a property tax exemption for bee keeping. Is that only in Texas? I have some friends in Pennsylvania that are starting their own hive this year. They've hosted another person's hive for a couple of years since they have a huge garden. Angela is very excited. She is taking classes too.

Ann said...

Hi, So glad to see more folks getting into bees...I'm just finishing up my first year with bees and i really want to encourage you to look into the option of top bar hives before you implement your plans. Top bar hives are ancient and more apicentric than Langstroth (of course this is controversial in beekeeping circles). I chose top bar after doing a ton of research for many reasons:

More like bees' natural habitats...they make their own comb so no fake plastic comb (toxins) in the hive
No need for lifting and moving heavy boxes

Less equipment needed and no need for storage

No need for honey extractors, just take out the comb and place it into a bucket with holes sitting on top of another bucket and let gravity do the work...the beeswax can be used for candles, etc and the bees will build more comb as needed

Top bar beekeeping is fascinating and if you read up on it you may find it preferable to Langstroth which was initially developed for commercial purposes such as increasing honey production, etc. In other words for the beekeeper rather than the bees.

I have a little urban farm in my backyard which is only 5,000 sq. ft. so my bees are pretty close to the house. They never cause a problem, preferring to do their jobs all day...

Cheers to you and you bees!

Ann

Practical Parsimony said...

I have no hope of having bees on my lot in the city, especially since I have been told NO emphatically by the Animal Control officer who said my chickens were not allowed but he was not going to bust me for them, that as long as no one complains, I am okay. So, that is that. But, I want to gather all the knowledge I can in the meantime. I cannot wait to read your other posts on this outing.

Mystic Mud said...

That looks like a really awesome day and class. I love the painted hives! I would love to do that, but not with my bees in it!...lol

Anonymous said...

I love Rohan Mead! Have you tried their raspberry flavor yet? They have it on tap in their tasting room... soooo yummy. I think that mead is like anything else - some you love and some not so much. And, as the only mead drinker in our family, this stuff stays good opened in the fridge for ages (unlike wine)...

Sandy said...

1st Man,

Thank you for sharing information on the class you took for bee keeping, and all the great photographs. I can't wait to here more about the class in upcoming posts.

1st Man said...

It will be slow until the later in they year. Well, now that i think about it, I'll be ordering things along the way, tools, suits, hives, smoker, accessories, etc, then of course clearing the spot for them so I guess there will be periodic updates until they arrive. Stay tuned!!

1st Man said...

I'm not sure about other states, but I know, from the class, that in Texas it's only been in the last few years they got it pushed through the legislature. The odd thing is that every county was given their own leeway to make the rules for that county. Our county only requires 5 hives per 5-10 acres. Some counties I found out, wait for this, require 75 (!) hives per 2 acres!!! Crazy huh? Typical government non functioning like it should I suppose. Anyway, I think we can do five hives, of course there is a five year waiting period, you have to have that many years before you can qualify. Good luck!!!

1st Man said...

Well first of all, thank you for kind words and your great comment. I am going to research top bar as well. They had a class on it but I missed it. Several people there had both hive types running at the same time and are going to post some online results. I'm anxious to see that as well. Thank you!! We all have to save our bees, that's for sure.

1st Man said...

That's so crazy. They allow bees (and limited number of chickens) here in the city limits of Houston. It's good the office is going to allow the chickens. I will share everything I do all along the way. Good and (hopefully not) bad.

1st Man said...

Ha, I understand. I didn't know you had bees. Have you posted about your bees? I'll have to look back through your posts. I get busy sometimes and sometimes miss catching up on my favorite blogs. Wasn't the painted hive pretty? Maybe someday. For now I think we'll go au natural, or maybe white. :-)

1st Man said...

That was it, Rohan, I forgot the name. I haven't tried the raspberry. I had the 'original' just plain mead/honey wine and it was yummy! The other one I tried was a 'dry' or less sweet that had sage in it as I recall. I did not like that at all. I would like to have tried the others but didn't want to hog the front of the line ha. So the raspberry is good? Sounds like a good combination. Thanks for the tip!!

1st Man said...

There will be more info coming. I just ordered my first 'bee related' item tonight. Should be in in a few days.

Lynda said...

I love my bees. When you get yours you will be fascinated by them...they are just wonderful. My first year with bees my garden doubled it's production! I'm not kidding it was amazing: and I got HONEY, too!