Queen-rearing Calendar

Queen Rearing Calendar

Sugar Block / Honeybee Health Recipe

Have not tried this yet, personally, but I’m putting it here to share and save for myself. I have read good things about it. Detailed post to come once I have tried and made my own assessment.

  • 10 to 12 cups of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • mix really good in a pot over medium heat until it is smooth and all sugar is wet.
  • Add 10 to 15 drops (each) of lemongrass and spearmint essential oils.
  • Pour into disposable tins, cool for 2 to 24 hours before setting it out

Note: Spearmint and lemongrass essential oils are ingredients in the honey b healthy product. The oils contain amino acids that are beneficial to honeybee health.

Winter Solstice – Beekeeping Reflection

Today, on the winter solstice, I reflect on my beekeeping experiences over the past nine months. I have gained much knowledge, yet I feel I have just scratched the surface of the bees’ world. They are, by far one of God’s most interesting and complex creatures. There is much that humans, as a species, could stand to learn from the bees’ sense of community, duty and loyalty; however, that’s too much to tackle with this post. For now, I would like to share some thoughts on my decision to begin with NUCs. In my first blog post, I highlighted the reasons I chose the NUC. Since then, I have had the great luck of gaining three additional hives, all from swarms. I have noticed some pretty big differences between my NUC colonies and my swarms this year. I want to share those with you, so that others may make a more informed decision when getting into beekeeping and deciding how to obtain their first hives.

Varroa mites were an issue this year, and a big one. This is one of the biggest problems that bees and beekeepers face. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the problem, there’s tons of material to get you up to speed in that area on the web. However, there was a big difference in mite population between my NUCs and my swarms. The NUCs had a much higher mite population, where the swarms had seemingly little to no mite problem. This makes sense though, if you think about it. When you purchase a NUC, you get bees and frames of brood. Mites breed in the brood; so it is to be expected that mites are transferred to your NUC in the frames obtained from the original hive. With a swarm, you’re not transferring any frames; this breaks the brood cycle and does wonders against the mite population.

This was a great year for honey and the NUCs did not disappoint in that regard. However, I was more impressed with how quickly the swarms built-out their comb, grew their population, and collected enough stores for winter. While they didn’t produce an excess of honey in their first year, they got themselves in a good position for winter. I think that swarms have a different mentality; they know that they must work quickly to prepare themselves for the winter, therefore they are noticeably more vigorous workers. Even a tiny swarm that I obtained in late July filled a five frame NUC with brood and honey stores, growing their population enough to make me question whether I should re-home them in a 10 frame deep. I decided they would be better off packed into the five frame NUC for winter.

Mushroom fun at Wild Dahlia Homestead

This past (windy) Sunday my wife and I headed up to Wild Dahlia Homestead to see Alex and Stacey for a 3-4 hour class on Mushroom Cultivation! The homestead sits just between Cherryville and Kings Mountain, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from good ole Lattimore that I call home! Stacey welcomed us with some great herbal tea I’m hoping to get the ingredients for- She told me, but I don’t remember! Afterward, Alex, our instructor for the day, walked us down to the woods to show us his mushroom log collection and setup. I got some great ideas for what to do with certain areas of our property that are shady, low-lying areas with rain run-off issues; turns out, these areas that aren’t good for much else (for us), may be great areas for growing mushrooms! Woohoo!

Next we headed back up the path and to the backyard where we settled in for a mini-lecture on mushroom basics. Topics covered included types of mushrooms, fungi science, history, cooking, inoculation methods, log choice, log preparation, log location, required tools, and finally, an excellent resource or two for purchasing all of your fungi needs!

After our lecture, Alex demonstrated preparing a mushroom log using the totem method. In this method, you saw a log in about 3 short and stubby pieces, place about a quarter-inch of sawdust spawn in the bottom of a bucket and between each section of the log, and build a totem pole this way by screwing these sections of log back together in whatever simple method you can! Now, this is an over-simplification, but here is an excellent PDF from Cornell University that shows what I’m talking about, and explains it a little better.

Following our demonstration, Alex gave us some hands-on experience with inoculating logs with plugs and saw dust spawn using a drill, hammer, and a nifty little “palm inoculator” for injecting saw dust spawn. After completely plugging one log, we watched as Alex showed us how to put the finishing touches on the log by waxing over the plugs.

I really enjoyed our visit to Wild Dahlia Homestead; it was a great experience and I will definitely be heading back for future learning opportunities! I have included below a stream of consciousness (notes) from the day:

Saprophytic Mushrooms are easily cultivated on wood. Chanterelle mushrooms grow in the wild and are difficult to produce commercially. Truffles are another example of those that are not easily cultivated, because we do not understand the minerals that are required and exactly what’s going on in the soil.

Fungus has its own kingdom. It used to be in the plant kingdom. Proteins in the mushrooms are similar to proteins in animals. They inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.

Shiitake cultivation is an ancient art. It is the most popular mushroom that is cultivated today. Shiitake mushrooms that are dried in the sun are much higher in vitamin D. The gills facing up produced the most vitamin D.

Research lacto fermentation. Sour kraut is lacto fermented.

Do not eat them raw in general. Definitely do not eat chicken of the woods raw… Cook them all for at least 20 minutes. Shiitake can be eaten in small amounts raw.

Any hardwood is good for inoculating shiitake mycelium. 6 rows of plugs on a 4″ log. 7 rows on a 5″ log, etc… Mycelium grows with greater ease when it grows in the same direction as the grain of the wood. It grows slower against the grain of the wood. Therefore, you should inoculate rows closer than plugs within the same row…

Soy wax from fungi perfecti. fungi.com Food grade paraffin wax.

Soak and shock method. Soak log for up to 12 hours completely submerged. Hit With hammer/toss in air….

Mycelium loves 70 degree weather. The closer to freezing the temperature falls, the slower the mycelium will grow. Growth completely stops at zero degrees.

You can inoculate a stump at the same pattern and rate as you inoculate logs. At the top of the stump, where it has been sawed off, you will come in 1″ and inoculate. You will not inoculate onto the edge of the stump, or directly into the hardwood.

You can place your inoculated logs into the ground, simulating a stump. One third of the log length should be buried. The buried part of the log should be more heavily inoculated to avoid the invasion of another type of fungus. You should mix in sand with the dirt that comes in contact with the log, as there is little to no fungal growth in sand.

Maitake logs must be buried in the ground. Very sought after mushroom. Highly medicinal. They should be buried and inch underneath the soil…Multiple logs… Much like you are building a raft beneath the ground… logs done this way should be double-inoculated. In order for the mycelium to spread faster between the logs, they will shave off the bark to expose the wood where the logs touch… This method would fruit above the ground. cauliflower mushroom will grow well like this as well. 3 logs wide is enough to implement this method.

You can speed up maitake mushroom growth by using the hoop house method… Basically building a small greenhouse over the buried mushroom logs.

Wine Cap is a large and prized mushroom. Lookup Riche Mushroom

“Field and Forest Products” provides a good catalog and is a good source for mushroom products. www.fieldforest.net

Oyster mushrooms will grow practically anywhere and in anythingpeanut hulls and coffee grounds can be used to grow oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms are very vigorous.

Mushroom Mountain may be a good source of plugs

Totem method

Lion’s Mane grows well using the totem method.

Dowel plugs are easier to use and faster, although more expensive. Saw dust spawn is a third of the cost of dowel rods.

Put a cup or a little more of the saw dust into the bottom of a bucket. Should be about one-quarter of an inch of saw dust in the bottom… then, place the bottom totem on top of the saw dust base within the bucket. One quarter inch of dust between the totems… should be kept at 60-80 degrees sealed in a plastic bag for various lengths of time depending on the mushroom.

Can grow shiitake, oysters, lion’s mane and others with totem method.

Lobster mushroom is a fungus that attacks another type of mushroom. It is a fungus on a fungus… That turns the fungus that it attacks into an edible mushroom.

Thanks for reading and I hope to upload some pictures of this adventure soon!