Thursday, December 30, 2010

Materials for winterizing my hives.

Winterizing my beehives.

There are many ways to do this, this is just one perspective.

Far left: Homosote. It is basically papier mache. I put this on the top of the inner cover to absorb some of the moisture in the hive. Moisture can kill bees.

Second from left: is insulation. A layer I put on top of the homosote to just help the hive stay warm-ish.

Black roll: is tar paper. I wrap my hives in this tar paper to help the hive absorb heat during the day.

Far right: I can't remember why I put this in this is a deep body.

Hope this helps. Would love to hear what you do. A few more thoughts

Bee by Rose-Lynn Fisher

Picture of BeesKnee by Rose-Lynn Fisher, Video here.

I was giving this book for my birthday yesterday. It is really cool, check it out.

"Of the ten million or so different species of insects on our planet, none is more fascinating than the honeybee. One of the oldest forms of animal life still in existence from the Neolithic Age, bees have been worshipped and mythologized since the beginning of human history. Known popularly for their industriousness ("as busy as a bee") and highly valued for their role in agricultural pollination (every third bite we take depends on them), bees are now kept by a quarter-million beekeepers in the United States alone, and millions more around the world."

Why do my hens stop laying eggs in winter?

Many people ask me what they can do to help keep their hens laying eggs during the winter. Here are a few things to consider:

1. Make sure your hens have plenty of fresh clean water all day long. Don't let it freeze over night then replace in the morning. I use heated dog bowls.

2. I use lights (on timers) in my coop so that my hens have 14-16 hours of light a day.

3. Add a bit more protein to their feed. I add a bit of gamebird crumble to the regular feed. Also consider adding cracked corn and ground flaxseed to their feed.

4. Try and add some greens to your hens feed. I go to our local farm and get the leftover lettuce and carrot tops. It is also great entertainment for hens.

5. Keep the coop draft free.

6. I also try to add something to the coop so that they are entertained. Scratch is a great thing! They love digging about for it.

More winterizing tips.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Makes no sense.

Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees
BY Ariel SchwartzFri Dec 10, 2010

The world honey bee population has plunged in recent years, worrying beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the North American honey bee population has declined--electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change have all been pinpointed. Now a leaked EPA document reveals that the agency allowed the widespread use of a bee-toxic pesticide, despite warnings from EPA scientists.

The document, which was leaked to a Colorado beekeeper, shows that the EPA has ignored warnings about the use of clothianidin, a pesticide produced by Bayer that mainly is used to pre-treat corn seeds. The pesticide scooped up $262 million in sales in 2009 by farmers, who also use the substance on canola, soy, sugar beets, sunflowers, and wheat, according to Grist.

The leaked document (PDF) was put out in response to Bayer's request to approve use of the pesticide on cotton and mustard. The document invalidates a prior Bayer study that justified the registration of clothianidin on the basis of its safety to honeybees:

Clothianidin’s major risk concern is to nontarget insects (that is, honey bees). Clothianidin is a neonicotinoid insecticide that is both persistent and systemic. Acute toxicity studies to honey bees show that clothianidin is highly toxic on both a contact and an oral basis. Although EFED does not conduct RQ based risk assessments on non-target insects, information from standard tests and field studies, as well as incident reports involving other neonicotinoids insecticides (e.g., imidacloprid) suggest the potential for long-term toxic risk to honey bees and other beneficial insects.

The entire 101-page memo is damning (and worth a read). But the opinion of EPA scientists apparently isn't enough for the agency, which is allowing clothianidin to keep its registration.

Suspicions about clothianidin aren't new; the EPA's Environmental Fate and Effects Division (EFAD) first expressed concern when the pesticide was introduced, in 2003, about the "possibility of toxic exposure to nontarget pollinators [e.g., honeybees] through the translocation of clothianidin residues that result from seed treatment." Clothianidin was still allowed on the market while Bayer worked on a botched toxicity study [PDF], in which test and control fields were planted as close as 968 feet apart.

Clothianidin has already been banned by Germany, France, Italy, and Slovenia for its toxic effects. So why won't the EPA follow? The answer probably has something to do with the American affinity for corn products. But without honey bees, our entire food supply is in trouble.

READ ENTIRE article here

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I put this in my hens water

They love it, I think it taste like cider.
My chicken mentor Jan Brett says it helps with worms.

I just put a little dash into a gallon bucket, about a tablespoon, it isn't very scientific

Monday, December 13, 2010

The BeeKeeper Next Door - NYTimes

Deborah Augustine

Mike Barrett keeps his bees in a hive that sits on the rooftop of his two-story row house in Astoria.

Published: December 8, 2010

"The number of bees has been falling since the end of World War II, when farmers stopped rotating crops with clover, a good pollen source for bees, and started using fertilizers. Pesticides and herbicides became common as well. In cities, native plants were ripped out in favor of exotic ones that were not good for bees.Then, four years ago, honey bee colonies mysteriously started to die around the country. This drop-off, called colony collapse disorder, added to the mounting health problems, like mites and diseases, that bees are facing. About 30 percent of the country’s managed colonies have died; around a third of the deaths are related to colony collapse disorder, according to the Agriculture Department.“We don’t know the primary cause, but we know the combination of poor nutrition, heavy pesticide use and bee diseases have put bees into a tailspin,” said Marla Spivak, an entomology professor at the University of Minnesota and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her work on honey-bee health."


Food Magazine for Kids.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Guest Blog Post from - Michelle Stern from What’s Cooking

I have a confession to make.

I have wanted backyard chickens for quite some time. The appeal of rich and flavorful eggs with bright orange yolks was too much to resist. And when my 8 year old daughter joined our local 4-H club, my heart leapt when she told me that she was interested in joining the poultry project. My husband wasn’t likely to cave to my chicken cravings. But how could he resist the doe-eyes of our daughter, who was actually learning about chickens?

It has been a win-win. Our whole family has enjoyed the chickens. Amelia and I love watching their silly antics and how they recycle our food scraps into breakfast. Our husband adores watching Amelia learn and puts up with our giggles as we share funny chicken stories. And our son tries to like them. But at the very least, he is proud when his friends come over and he can show them off.

Needless to say, we have been eating a lot of eggs. Egg production has slowed down recently, since our girls are molting and the daylight hours are shorter. (The coop looks a little bit like a feather pillow has exploded…) This recipe is one of my favorites, and will appear in the pages of my new cookbook, due out in April, 2011. The Whole Family Cookbook encourages families to cook together, but also has a big green focus. I can’t seem to quiet my inner environmental science teacher, so the pages contain lots of eco-tips, along with banter about the benefits of eating happy, pastured animals rather than their institutionalized cousins.

Breakfast Burrito
By Michelle Stern, Author of The Whole Family Cookbook (April, 2011) and Owner of What’s Cooking, a certified green cooking school for kids (

1 russet potato
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 chicken apple sausages, (You can also use spicy sausage or chorizo)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
1 cup black beans
1/3 cup cheddar, feta or queso fresco cheese
4 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup sour cream, optional
1/4 cup salsa, optional
1 handful cilantro or parsley leaves, optional
1 small avocado, optional
2 slices bacon or turkey bacon, crumbled, optional

1. Scrub the potato under running water.
2. Prick it all over with a fork and cook it in the microwave for 5-6 minutes, or until tender.
3. Allow it to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
4. Heat the canola oil in a skillet over a medium-high heat.
5. Meanwhile, slice the sausages into 1/4 inch thick rounds. If you are using uncooked sausages, you will need to squeeze it from its casing.
6. Cook the sausage until it is browned.
7. Crack the eggs into a medium-sized bowl. Beat with a fork or whisk.
8. Measure the cumin and add it to the eggs.
9. Reduce the heat to medium-low and pour in the eggs. Stir them occasionally and break up any large clumps.
10. Cut the potato into 1 inch cubes and add it to the skillet.
11. Drain and rinse the black beans.
12. Measure them and and add them to the skillet so that they can warm through.
13. Season the egg mixture with salt and pepper, to taste and remove the skillet from the heat.
14. Grate or crumble the cheese into a small dish.
15. Spread each tortilla with sour cream and salsa, if desired.
16. Put 1/4 of the potato cubes onto center of the tortilla.
17. Top the potato with 1/4 of the egg, sausage and bean mixture.
18. Sprinkle with cheese.
19. Top with any additional toppings, such as cilantro, diced avocado, crumbled bacon or hot sauce.
20. Fold one side towards the middle. Then fold up the bottom, then the other side, followed by the top.
21. Eat whole or cut the burrito in half, for little hands.

Our broody bantam cochin hatched some orpington chicks – all of which turned out to be roosters. We were very sad…but they all got a great new home and didn’t end up in a soup pot.

One of the babies…

Michelle Stern is the owner of What’s Cooking, a certified green cooking school for kids in the San Francisco. Her new book, The Whole Family Cookbook, is coming out in April, 2011. For family friendly recipes, tips on cooking with kids, and environmentally friendly suggestions for eating well, go to:

@whatscooking and on Facebook

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Photo taken by my friend Tamara Staples

Have you seen her awesome book Fairest Fowl? It was the book I kept going back to when I was first choosing chickens. It is great. Get it.

Then this spring look for her new book called The Fancy!

Friday, December 3, 2010