Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Capital Buzz Will Be Showing At The DC Shorts Film Festival

The Capital Buzz, a film about DC beekeeping and yours truly, has been making the rounds nationwide at numerous film festivals.  Coming soon to DC, here is an article about it!

Please check it out if you can!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Our New Online Store Is Now Open

Please visit us at the Georgetown Honeybee Company Store.

Purchase local honey, hives, bees and bee products.  The site remains under construction so please email me with any requests, comments, or commendations!!


Friday, August 24, 2012

We Get To Tag Along With A Commercial Beekeeper-VIDEO

Jerry Mattiaccio, of Rock Hill Honeybee Farms, was kind enough to invite me to join him on a pollination run to southern Virginia to visit and feed some hives on pumpkins.
Jerry could not resist describing me as a "city boy" as I wondered out-loud how many tanks of gas it took to get to his hives.  But it was an excellent learning experience, and a window onto the backbone of the bee industry, the pollinator. 

We cannot be hobby beekeepers without them as they provide the bee root-stock that gives us bees.  And honey.  Oh, and high yields that keep food prices low.

It was an awesome time, hopefully more experience to come!  Here is the vid.

Our Friend Charles Gets Some Love From the Washington Post

Charles is a beekeeper in the Anacostia area of Washington, and is a very active member of the community.  I have worked with Charles on not only bee-related stuff, but also in wearing my other hat as representative of the Mayor's office.

You may remember Charles from this post:

These pics of him show him after a rather eventful and reactive encounter with his bees, and his face was in recovery at the time!

Thanks, Charles, for keeping the momentum!  Still waiting for that honey...

Here is the link to the Post article:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Nucs Arrive In Memphis Safely!

The two nucs that we sent on Monday from our local post office arrived yesterday (Thursday) in Memphis via Parcel Post from the US Postal Service.  That was much better delivery timing than was quoted (seven days) and bolsters our belief that we can now make a habit of mailing our DC-raised bees and queens to folks around the country.  The cost for shipping for each nuc was about $30.

This fall and winter we will be setting up a limited number of nucs to over-winter.  Those that survive we will sell in early spring, with the bees in a position to actually collect some honey for harvest next season.

 Let me know if you would like to reserve one!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Test Driving Mailing Nucs

 We have a client in TN who was anxious to get one of our nucs!

Hooray for us as we had some that were in great shape, but we had never shipped nucs, only provided them for pickup or drop-off.

We first tried overnight shipping through UPS.  They specifically do take bees, but don't take them to the UPS're not going to get the best understanding of their policies or their legendary customer service.  I would argue that the UPS Store was a bad move for UPS as it debases their otherwise excellent reputation.

The cost to overnight the nucs was over $110 each.  WOW.  And then a few bees escaped and they aborted the whole thing and returned the nucs to me in a sealed box and with our queens dead.

Charges returned (thankfully) we took the nucs a week later to the US Post Office.  I know, right?
Who uses USPS anymore unless you have a catalog to send.

Full disclosure, we are using Brushy Mountain nucs for shipping.  They are waxed cardboard with lots of ventilation.  But we needed to use the inner cover (which we have been neglecting) to fully enclose the bees. For some reason the shippers are not fond of bees escaping their colony.  UPS shipping did not get our best effort at full containment.

Lesson learned.

We have now modified our program to guarantee the containment of the girls.  We used a plastic wrap product to wrap the entire box in cellophane.  From Uline, it is this stuff.

After speaking with the Don, I think we are in good shape as long as the bees do not get overheated.

Please stay tuned as we hear about the health of the arriving bees.  There may be an opportunity to share our genetics with folks outside out market if it is successful!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We Have Local DC Honey For Sale Now

After this year, in spite of a few crashed hives, we were able to harvest about 60 lbs per hive out of many of our urban colonies.  we now have honey to sell.

This is honey we harvested using the crush and strain method and has not been filtered, only strained to leave in all the goodness of the local pollen.  We have varieties collected from Georgetown, the Mount Vernon Triangle, and Takoma Park (DC).  All delicious!

Please email me if you would like some!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Friends at Paris Barns Are In Trouble

As you may remember, we have a bunch of hives out in Fauquier County that we help with.  This is at the Boneta Reserve where they rescue livestock, raise agricultural products, and do farm demonstrations.
Apparently, the local government has been giving them a rough time for the "commerce" they are undertaking on the property, in spite of their possession of a business license.

From the Washington Examiner:
Farmers in Fauquier County are planning to bring their pitchforks to an Aug. 2 hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals to protest the arbitrary treatment of one of their own. On April 30, Zoning Administrator Kimberley Johnson sent Martha Boneta an official cease-and-desist notice for selling farm products and hosting a birthday party for her best friend's 10-year-old daughter on her 70-acre Paris, Va., farm without a special administrative permit.

Johnson threatened to fine Boneta $5,000 per violation if she did not stop the alleged unlawful activities within 30 days. In doing so, Boneta's fellow farmers say, Johnson stepped far beyond her authority. They're supporting her appeal before the BZA because they rightly fear that left unchecked, this infringement on one farmer's freedom to make a living will spread to other agricultural enterprises like a dangerous pest.

The Virginia Right to Farm Act prohibits local authorities from treating agricultural activity as a "nuisance" -- which seems to be what's happening here, since Johnson was reportedly responding to complaints from nearby residents. Boneta already had a business license the county issued her in June 2011 that allowed her to operate a "retail farm shop" on her property. Her license application specifically noted her intention to sell handspun yarns, birdhouses, soaps and other handicrafts in addition to fresh vegetables, eggs, herbs and honey.

The following month, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors changed the classification of "farm sales" to require a special administrative permit for activities that were in compliance with the ordinance just one month before. But documents received under the Freedom of Information Act showed that Boneta is the only farmer in Fauquier County who has ever been cited -- even though the county's own website lists dozens of farms that sell similar products to end-use customers.

On July 12, supervisors voted to limit the number of visitors allowed at food- and wine-tasting events to 25, and to limit such events to two per month, even though they were warned by the county attorney and Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore that such restrictions are illegal. Virginia's growing wine industry and its small artisanal farmers contribute millions of dollars to the state economy while providing urban residents with a taste of country life. But even in picturesque Fauquier County, their future is clouded by the growing burden of capricious government regulation.

Here is more commentary on the subject:

Why is this beekeeping blog covering this?  We certainly we want to support our friends the Boneta's who have been huge proponents of the bees.

But also important are the impacts of this kind of government intervention on your beekeeping operations, or your honey sales, or your farmer's market activity.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Making a Few Queens, Part 2 VIDEO

After a poor first attempt, where I failed to provide a queenless hive for our bees, we try again with some queen-rearing equipment from Mann Lake to improve our success.