On Saturday, Michael, my brother-in-law Glenn, and I went to the Mother Earth News Festival (MENF) at Seven Springs, a ski resort owned by Ogden publications.
<--My brother-in-law Glenn (left) and Michael (right) watch the kids responding to the draft horses.
We're interested in becoming first-time beekeepers next spring. And we're happy to report that bee-keeping is enjoying a resurgence, especially by those who want to prevent the perpetuation of colony collapse. There were two beekeeping informational workshops, both of which were packed with interested, ethusiastic people. We also learned an enormous amount about commercially produced honey production, which will keep me buying only from local and organic sources. Not only are pesticides and fungicides, which make the wax increasingly toxic, one the many problem confronting bee populations, the use of high fructose corn syrup (yes, high fructose!) to "nourish" the bees when the honey is harvested from their hives is incorporated into the nectar and changes the PH of the honey itself. This lowers the honey's natural antibacterial properties and necessitates the use of other chemicals to sustain the nests.
Together, Glenn, Michael, and I purchased an innovative, homestead hive design from a small, family-owned company located in the Ozarks, called Bee Landing. The hives themselves are more like a colonies' natural habitat, like hollow logs. This design not only disturbs the bees less when honey is harvested, it offers a more stable source of insulation against temperature fluctuations and humidity, which the bees must control in order to maintain a healthy environment.
In late April, early May, we'll be receiving one of these innovative new hives, and we will then be in the market for a swarm (and its all-important queen). We're hoping not to have to import one from the south, since moving colonies has proven to be another stessor because it requires the queen and her entire population to be regressed to a more natural size and adapt to a new environment. Instead, we hope to find some local beekeepers who would be willing to share with us.
These pigs (at right) were dreaming deeply when this picture was taken: their little muscles would jump and their lips would flap as they lay there next to each other, almost as if they were spooning. --->
<--Alpacas were big at the MENF. They seem like loveable little creatures with charming dispositions. This little lady could pass for a mammalian version of Big Bird. It's the mop-top that does it for me. More to come soon...I've got some Pittsburgh Small Press Fest photos and other things to update. Stay tuned!