Author Archives: bigbear

Get Your Garden On

Those bee-friendly plant people over at Indian Creek Nursery have got a handy dandy set of pages to help just about anyone get a garden started.

Look over these images and get your garden on.  If you want to know even more you can visit their website or even give them a call at the store.  They even have a facebook page you can chat with them at.

The PDF files originals can be downloaded on the Download page here.

Beeing a Facilitator

BBE-Tech Apiary Services exists to help beekeepers be more successful in their beekeeping efforts.  It’s an opportunity for me to make the skills, knowledge and experience I have and continue to accrue available to others who are looking for resources to get a good start in beekeeping or to get assistance in doing things that will improve their beekeeping efforts.

As an offshoot of that, the Bee Smart beekeeping project exists not so much to provide “hands on” support like the main effort but to make information, communication and assistive resources available for the person who is trying to do it themselves but needs access to specific things put on “the table” so they can find what they need and use it as they will.

Everyone that I provide direct services to via BBE-Tech through is a DIY type but even the most capable Do-It-Yourself-ers have learned the value of having an extra set of experienced hands and eyes to get certain tasks and objectives achieved the way they want it done.    My clients through BBE-Tech Apiary Services aren’t looking for someone to do it for them.  They are looking for someone to help them achieve success as they client has determined for themselves.  I can only respect and admire people like these who know what they want, know they need access to more than they currently have and have the gumption to get the help they want so as to get what they want to achieve accomplished.

The Bee Smart side is for the same clients and others who are looking for information, motivation, inspiration and organizational tools and resources to continue doing things to achieve their own goals.

It is for you courageous and relentless achievers that the downloadable resources are put up.  It is for you that I have brought together some of the wisest, most experienced, and self motivated bunch of Beehooligans together to share our experiences with everyone on the podcasts.  It is with you in mind that the website forum page is there to provide a place to ask questions and get ideas from each other to bee more successful.

You are my heroes, all of you who overcome fears and challenges to become beekeepers.  You, who will not allow things like lack of knowledge and resources but search them out for yourself, are my inspiration.  All of you who never give up, who shrug off failure and are more determined to come back successful, you are my role models.

You are the reason I continue to keep learning and teaching. It is because of you that I work harder to make your success more achievable.  When you succeed, I succeed.  When you fail, I fail.  I will not accept failure except as an opportunity to learn to improve and I will not accept failure for you either except as an opportunity to learn and improve.

I can bee better, you can bee better.  I work harder so that we can all bee better. 

I beelieve in you.

BBE-Tech Brings Beekeeping Tech To Mini-Makers Fair

On Saturday, April 15th from 9 am to 4 pm, BBE-Tech Apiary Services will be represented at the Mini-Makers Fair being held at the DoSpace on 72& Dodge St.

Tony “Big Bear” Sandoval, Professional Apiarist and one of the “Beehooligans” from the Bee Smart beekeeping project weekly podcast will bee on site to present and discuss the tools, equipment and methods that are involved in doing live bee removals, building bee hive’s and making beeswax craft items.

Bee there or bee square.

Planning: Pt 1 – Goals

I really beelieve that successful beekeeping beegins with proper planning in place from the beeginning.  Every plan starts with a goal.  What is your goal?

“Why are you a beekeeper? What do you intend to achieve?” That is what you need to answer to set your goal(s).  Be as specific as you can.  It’s ok to have more than one goal, just don’t overwhelm yourself especially if you’re just getting started.

Your goal is your purpose.  It is what motivates you to start and continue every day with your beekeeping.  If what you end up accomplishing, if you find yourself accomplishing something is what you state as your goal, you have something to measure your success by.

So often I work with people who either have no clear goal or didn’t set the right goal for them.  Unfortunately, this more often than not leads to the beekeeper with feelings of failure, disappointment and not achieving anything.

Set the right goal based on why you are motivated to be a beekeeper to beegin with.  What inspires you, motivates you, makes you excited about beekeeping?  How do you see that ending up?  What do you see in your mind as really doing when you imagine yourself as a beekeeper?  That is your goal or at least the right path to follow to your goal.

For example, my goal is to be a conservation focused beekeeper.  I want to help keep bees alive and thriving.  Especially those bees that might otherwise be killed due to extermination or choosing a wholly unhealthy or inappropriate place to live.  I want to “rescue” successful, locally adapted bee colonies and build up a source of thriving “survivor” genetics.

That’s my goal.  It’s not everyone’s goal and even others who share that goal will find themselves diverging from me as we move to the next steps of a beekeeping plan such as objectives, strategies and tactics.

Good goals have certain things about them…

  • Realistic.  It needs to be something you can actually do.
  • Reasonable.  It needs to be something that falls into the “Probable” side out of the “Possible\Probable” odds.
  • Achievable.  Is it something “you” can do with what resources you currently have available or can obtain without creating a major upset in your life?
  • Measurable.  Don’t be vague.  If honey production is a goal, make sure you specify something like producing honey to sell or to give as gifts or to keep your cupboard stocked, etc…  Perhaps a goal would be to produce enough surplus honey to give some to every family member at the next Thanksgiving Day get-together.  Something like that.

In the next Step we’ll talk about fine-tuning those goals into strategies that will help focus more specifically on achieving those goals.

 

Immersion Beekeeping Experiences

For some people, and the number is growing, they find that learning something new like beekeeping can be helped immensely by doing it as they learn it.  Many folks are the type who find they learn best by jumping in feet first and just doing it.

That’s why I offer Beekeeping Retreats.  They give us the time and opportunity to work in a small group and really dig in and do the things we talk about, as we are talking about them.  Instant reinforcement.  Also, immediate context to be able to see how the details come together to form the bigger picture.

Combine small group immersion learning with an isolated, focused location and learning environment and you have everything you need for a no-holds barred beekeeping experience that will prepare you for beekeeping, or the next steps in beekeeping.

Imagine setting up your tent in an actual apiary.  You almost literally get to eat, sleep and breathe bees and beekeeping for a whole weekend.  I combine seven (7) beekeeping classes along with practical, hands-on application during the retreat.  At the end, each participant receives a Certificate of course completion from BBE-Tech Apiary Services.

This is your chance to do the things as you learn them with opportunities built in to ask the questions you have as they come up and apply to what you are doing.  A chance to hear it, see it, do it, all rolled into one fun outdoors experience you will always remember.

Now, you may think that by getting seven classes plus the hands-on experience is going to have to be outrageously expensive.  Similar “Full Immersion” courses can cost well over $500.00 per person.  Due to the nature of my work as a live bee nest removal specialist and collaboration with other local education experience enthusiasts and service providers, I am able to bring you a 3 day, 2 night, 7 full classes with hands-on application beekeeping experience for only $200.00 per person.  That includes food and class materials.  All you need to bring otherwise is your camping gear and a desire to “bee as one” with the bees.

We hope to offer at least two beginning beekeeping and two advanced beekeeping retreats each year.  We have one each planned for this Summer 2017 in July (Basic) and August (Advanced).   Keep an eye on this website for registration information for each retreat.

Bee Tech Review: Skil RAS900 Router Table

A router table is beekeeping tech?

Yes, yes it can be.  I use my router table to cut rabetts in my end boards of hive boxes.  I use it to cut dadoes in bottom boards and other hive parts that need grooves.

Just after cutting frame rest in hive box end board.

Pro’s

  • Legs fold underneath for easier storage.
  • Not too heavy allowing it to be portable to worksite.
  • Comes with accessories like detachable fingerboard 
  • Top is sturdy and lines are well marked for accuracy.
  • Good price range.  $90 to about $125 on average.
  • My older router fit in like it was made for it.
  • Router attachment system is very good.

Con’s

  • Power cord to table switch is way too short.
  • Access to router for bit changes and adjustments isn’t convenient.
  • Need a converter piece to adapt large vacuum port to smaller vacuum hose.

Router Power

I have my old Craftsman 1.5 hp 2500 rpm EZ Router attached (I love that router) and the four “finger” attachment system fits beautifully with it.  The underside of the SKIL RAS900 router table has two “template” circles to help center the router in the hole.

The whole router attachment system on this table makes it so easy to swap routers in and out.

 

Scoring

I score on a 1 – 5 system.  1 being worst. 5 being best.

Presentation: 4 – It’s a sharp looking table that doesn’t look or feel “cheap”.  The markings are clean and clear and easily visible and easy to understand.

Usability: 4 – It pretty much comes with all the basic parts to install a router and do simple, repetitive cutting out of the box.  I was cutting wood within about 20 minutes of opening the box.

Functionality: 4 – The legs fold in under the table for stowage and fold out to use it.  It has holes in the feet for screwing the table to a surface and there is a bottom “foot” on each corner to use clamps instead of screws.  The table is stable on it’s legs and doesn’t have any real movement once fastened in place.

Overall Score

4. I like this little router table very much.  Easy to set up, easy to use.  Fits in small, limited space workshops.  Easy to store, easy to take along.  Great for a beesy beekeeper.

 

 

You Bee You

My job is to help people bee better.  By that I mean to facilitate successful beekeeping through education, skills training, access to useful resources, and experienced assistance.

My goal is to help each beekeeper I work with to be as successful as they are able to in their own environment, with their own bees, according to their own goals and objectives.  I don’t intend to teach you to be the beekeeper that I am.  I want you to be the best beekeeper you can be.

Every colony has it’s own “personality”, it exists in it’s own micro-environment.  Your goals are going to represent you as an individual and what you want to achieve along the lines you need and want to operate in.

If I only taught people what I prefer or think of as best, I am not helping you to realize success on your terms.  I’m essentially teaching you to be successful in my terms or those of some group I associate with whether you agree with it or not.  Whether it is appropriate for your Apiary needs or not.

I teach best practices, pro’s and con’s of approaches and techniques.  I work to make sure people understand what they are doing, why they might want to do it or not, when, how and exceptions to it.  That way, armed with the knowledge and experience of different methods, approaches and materials, you can best decide whether it will bee appropriate for your beekeeping.

Sure, I have personal opinions and biases that affect my own beekeeping.  If you ask me about the how’s and whys I do things, I’ll tell you.  Not to influence your choices but as an example of one beekeeper putting it all together for themself.

In the end, it comes down to you and your bees.  I’ll bee me and you bee you.

 

Don’t Leave A Buddy Hangin

Bee colonies, like many living creatures, experience times in their lives ranging from “thriving” to “distressed”.  Far too often, our bee colonies are near or in a “distressed” condition these days.

I think of it this way, bees are getting dogpiled by the number of stress vectors assaulting them.  They face parasites, predators, pathogens and even poison.  It’s kind of like a person being jumped in an alley by 20 ruffians at once.  I don’t care how tough you are because of surviving Natural Selection, 20:1 odds means your getting it handed to you.

I don’t subscribe to the notion of “all or none” beekeeping, especially where treatment is concerned.  If one of my buddies gets dogpiled, I go start pulling attackers off and busting heads to help out.  It doesn’t stop there for me though.  I hang around and help my buddy out.  Get him a few bandages, maybe some stitches.  Get some medicine in him, even if it’s a shot of brandy to help settle him down.

The point is, what I don’t do is just pick him up, dust him off, then leave him hanging.  “Ok pal, I’m gonna take off now, you got this?  Cool, See ya later.”

That’s not cool in my book, where I come from.  But that is the attitude of a lot of no-treatment or organic beekeepers.  No treatment, no how, no when.  You’re on your own bees. 

I help a buddy while he’s down.  I help him get his strength back up.  I help him get back on track.  All the while, I test and check him to see when he says, “it’s ok, I’m good, I got this.”  When he tells me that and I see it happening with my own eyes, I stop helping out.  Then I can walk away after weaning him off my assistance and taking care of business on his own.

I do the same for my bee colonies.  I check them when I “rescue” them from a wall or roof or fallen tree, etc…  how bad did they get banged up?  Mite checks, SHB  population, diseases, who knows what could have been beating them up.  Then I get them moving on a plan and path to self sustainability.  I let them tell me when they are ready for no more treatment.  That’s the goal of course.

Our bees are getting dogpiled.  It’s not cool to just pick them up, dust them off, sit them in a chair, put a drink in their hand and tell them you’re out of there and they’re on their own.

I won’t leave my bee buddies hanging.

The Big Bear Special – My Custom Bee Hive Part 1

What

I loved working with the hive designed by Abbe Smile Warre.  He called it, “The People’s Hive”.  I find that it fits very well into my Organic beekeeping practices.  However, it didn’t do exactly what I need it to do mostly because I tend to be a tweaker.

In terms of economy, ease of building and structural needs, I came up over time, after a long line of tweaks that took me out of a Warre hive proper, with this hive that I prefer to build and use now.

Economy

With modern materials and hive parts that are in my case, easier bought than built, prefer to use the standard deep wedge top frame conventionally used in Langstroth hives.    I use the complete foundation-less frame as well as just the top bar for a more Warre-like top bar vertical system.  

Ease

It’s essentially a 5 frame Nuc hive deep box system.  Half the size of conventional hives yet a bit bigger compared to the Warre.  I get more boxes for the rough same amount of wood.  I also use butt joints with frame rails instead of cutting rabetts or finger joints.  Much easier and faster to build. 

Structural

Through stress testing done by nearly every wood working journal over the past 50 years, we have learned that the simple butt joint, glued and screwed, can withstand about 75 to 110 pounds of stress on the joints.  A full 5 frame box of honey might weigh about 55 pounds at most.  I have dropped these boxes, full of honey, from heights of 6 feet with no damage to the boxes.  Butt joints hold 5 frame boxes together just fine.

Why

I think that 3/4″ thick wood is thin enough as it is.  I don’t think it useful or necessary to cut frame rests and handholds in making the boxes even thinner in spots.  Internal environment is important.  Fewer places that “might” cause more heat loss is better in my opinion.

I also like keeping the bees in a voidspace that is easier for them to have a greater population to space ratio with smaller numbers giving them, in my opinion, a better chance to manage the nest space more successfully on their own.

While this requires me to keep a closer eye on absconding and swarming, I think it’s worth it.  Bear in mind, one of my main principles of organic beekeeping is that my job is to manage the hive and the colony’s job is to manage the nest.  I see it as my job to set the colony up for success in their efforts to manage the nest, not to do it for them.

In Part 2, I will post pictures of the hive as I build one and provide the dimensions and measurements should you want to try it out yourself.

Property Managers Need Professional Bee Removal

Property owners and managers have to always be looking out for the best interests, security and health of the people who rent, lease or are going to buy the properties they are responsible for.

If bees have built a nest in a structure like a house, garage, cabin, she’d or other building not only is the presence of live bees a concern where stinging incidents are concerned, but structural damage as a result of abandoned nests left behind by dead or absconded bees as well.

Property Managers can’t settle for just someone hacking open the structure and leaving things possibly damaged, incomplete, or exposing the owners to legal problems due to stressing bees into a stinging frenzy.

They want to have a professional solution provider that can remove the bees safely, open and repair the structure the right way and leave everything as a win-win for the property managers being good managers and showing concern for bee conservation.

As a professional apiarist, I have liability insurance, I am a registered contractor with the state of Nebraska, I have several years of experience as a professional and I am able to positively present the situation as part of my ongoing educational activities teaching about bees and beekeeping.

If you have rental properties, operate a camp with multiple cabins, own and rent houses or any other property management business that needs a “Go To” solution provider for all things bees, please contact me at 402-370-8018 or at bigbearomaha@gmail.com