Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Apples and Honey Bees

bee cropWell, I survived Winter Carnival, along with another monster snowstorm.  So far this winter, I’d say that I’ve gotten between four and five feet of snow, most of it coming in two big storms.  Luckily, I had a friend with a plow help me out this time, so I’m not having to hike in to the cabin.  There’s no way I’m moving that much snow again.  I’d rather hike than shovel.

Last week I house-sat for some friends of mine who live in Saranac Lake.  It was glorious to have running hot water, fast internet and unlimited electricity.  Out of the three though, I would still take hot water over the other two.

While I was there, I looked at their bookshelf, and saw a few books on bees.  I remembered that they have bee hives, and I started to flip through the books they had.  And of course, I now have an idea in my head for this coming spring and summer.  Hopefully, this is one idea that will actually be beneficial in a number of ways.

I am definitely getting a bee hive.  Last summer I wrote about bees and how interesting I think they are.  And last spring I was going to make maple syrup, but didn’t get my act together in time to get a harvest of sap.  The bees are going to be a good mix of trying to produce more off the land, getting a natural sweetener to use, and maybe helping out nature a little bit.  Plus, my garden could use more than a little help.

I’m going to start off with one hive, but if it goes well this first year, I know I’ll get another one next spring.  It’s kind of weird to be thinking about bees in the middle of winter, when there’s a foot or two of snow on the ground, but I am actually really excited to get going on this.

In addition to the honey, I’m hoping the bees will be beneficial to my apple trees.  After last year’s lack of apples due to the odd weather back in March, I hope that this is the year I can spend some time on the trees and clean them up.  Add bees into the mix, and I think the apple trees are going to be looking good.

I’m excited about this stuff because this is the kind of thing that can help get me through the winter.  Thinking about the nice days when you can work outside in a t-shirt and shorts and the long hours of daylight definitely bring a ray of optimism into my view.  The days are noticeably longer, my stove isn’t burning as much wood to keep the cabin warm most days, and the little birds at the feeders are still pretty fat for this time of year.

I can’t wait to add bees into this mix.  They’ll be happy and well fed on apple blossoms and blueberry flowers.  And the plants should be thriving with the steady supply of pollinators.  And I will be basking in the sweetness of all their hard work.

Photo: A Honey Bee in winter by Ellen Rathbone.

Justin A Levine

Justin A Levine

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.




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4 Responses

  1. joan streetman says:

    I use to have bee hives but I started them in a super with a mason jar of sugar water when they were sent to me by montogomery wards many years ago and it went into many supers after that and the honey was wonderful with buck wheat and alfafa and clover near by for them. It is really interesting hobby but work gathering the honey with the hat and the rest of the paraphelia. My father helped me with them back in the 50 and 60;s

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    • Justin says:

      Yeah, it’s amazing the different flavors of honey that come out. After a couple of years with the apple trees, I’m hoping to put a hive up near a large blueberry patch to get some different varieties.

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  2. Jon O'Connor says:

    Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby. This is a good time of the year to build your hive. You can buy a kit with all the wood parts from Betterbee in Greenwich, NY. They can also supply your package of bees to start the hive in the spring. They will be having a beginners class on February 23rd.

    Happy beekeeping
    Jon

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