Friday, February 12, 2016

Bee-friendly Valentines

When I was a kid, class parties were simple affairs. We played one game and got a snack that contained every allergen imaginable -- gluten, nuts, dairy, eggs --as well as a generous dose of sugar. In 4th grade, I had a teacher who insisted on "heart healthy" snacks for Valentine's day. All the moms complied, but they dumped red food coloring in everything. Valentines were printed on perforated card stock, and you had to rip them apart and put everyone's name on one. That was it.

I must have been too old when I had my first kid (nearly 30) because boy, had times changed! When my kid started school, I found out that all the moms sent in goodie bags with candy, stickers, and toys. And you had to arrive at the school two hours before the party to take these things down to the school nurse along with a list of ingredients. She would check the class list of allergies against ingredients, and if your snack he didn't pass muster, you had to take it home. And moms did this for every flipping holiday! Halloween. Christmas. 100 days. Valentines... When I was growing up, whoever heard of a St. Patrick's goodie bag?

I blame Martha Stewart and Pinterest.

So anyway, I found out at 5:00 last night my son's class was having a Valentine's party. (Yes, the letter was dated 2/11, so it hadn't been sitting in a backpack for 2 weeks.) WTH???!!!

I'm not a big fan of cards that get thrown away or sugar, and I'm too lazy to do goodie bags and crafts. However, these 20 cent seed packages gave me an idea.

They're not fancy because I was printing labels up 15 minutes before we had to leave for school (running late because I'd already ruined four dozen muffins this morning and had to run down to the store to buy new ones). But a nice graphic, a frilly font, fun paper, and ribbon would make these super cute.

Best of all, this became an opportunity to support pollinators with a little "guerrilla gardening."

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Perhaps I'm overly optimistic about the status of my colonies, but because room is becoming scarce in my yard, I took orders for 4 splits. They were snapped up within hours, and a waiting list got started. Even more exciting, yesterday, my first downpayment arrived! 

In my area, a local nuc easily sells for $200 - $250. At this point, money is not my main objective, so I underpriced the bees by a considerable amount. Mostly, I just want to test the waters and get a feel for the process. 

I could probably easily sell 8-10 nucs as long as all 6 colonies pull through to spring, but I'd like to keep a couple splits for me and make some honey. Also, I wanted to limit the number of splits for sale because it's still a long way until the pollen comes rolling in, and I wouldn't like to disappoint anyone or weaken my own hives too much -- because that would mean less honey!

Still it's kind of fun to sell some bees. Hives don't seem to grown on trees, so it's nice to actually make this hobby pay for itself.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Certified Naturally Grown

A couple of years ago, Chris Harp mentioned some standards for becoming Certified Naturally Grown in a talk. However, he didn't go into details, and I didn't do any research on it until someone posted something about in in a FaceBook group I follow.

Eventually, this is something I'll consider doing when I'm making a bit more honey. For now, my family and friends seem to be gobbling up all my produce, but I'll get there. In the meantime, this post is as much a note for me as for anyone else.

Bee Culture posted a good article on what it means to be CNG and reasons why to do it. If you have a minute, I'd recommend reading it.

For more information about having an apiary certified, check out CNG's Apiary Certification page.