Welcome to Oak Orchard Honey

We are a small beekeeping operation a short bike ride from the shore of Lake Ontario. Our hives are located in the heart of an old growth apple orchard planted by Ed Archbald back in the 1920s. A variety of apple trees were planted nearby in the 1990s that our bees visit, and we also have enough meadow with wild flowers to supply them with nectar and pollen through much of the season.

We are in the process of collectin feral bees and regressing our present bees back to the cell size of 4.9 mm. Cell size has been artificially increased since 1890s, and some members of the beekeeping community attribute many of today's bee health problems with this increased cell size.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Unknown

I tell people I have a growing list of things I don't know. There is
really no way for a person to keep up with the information that
becomes available every minute of the day - it's a battle I have
conceded after years of self deprication. Now I'm happy with a general
working knowledge of a few concepts.

Beekeeping is a new world to me filled with ideas and knowledge
gathered by multitudes of observant people over the past hundred and
fifty years or so. It seems like such a peaceful past-time with roots
in an earlier days before corn syrup and fast-food. I can walk out to
the back corner of our big yard and go back in time, and slowly learn
information about honey bees that has been common knowledge for over a
hundred years, and yet for me it is the unknown.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Nostalgia and Archaism

Scientific Queen Rearing by Gilbert M. Doolittle, published in 1889,
is a wonderful story. One can sense the time and place in Doolittle's
writing and feel the tug of nostalgia for days-gone-by. And, even
though more than one-hundred years have past, Doolittle's outlook on
life and beekeeping seem to be what many of us are looking for in our
"modern" world.

It was very nice of Michael Bush to republish this work at: http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Making Sure

Things look good down at the two hives. The placement of the apiary
seemed to have worked out well this winter. Living at the top of one
of the highest spots around leaves our property exposed to the West
winds that blow across the open fields. I was able to locate the hives
on the lee side of a stand of sumacs, blocking the worst of the winds.
I was lucky on the first summer of beekeeping, the field that borders
our property to the East was all red clover. It will most likely be
field corn this summer, but it could be soybean and that would be great.
For now I'll keep feeding the bees until I see some signs that the
maple trees have bloomed. I've read that maples could be a good source
of nectar if the weather stays warm enough for the bees to fly.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Not so great

I can't expect too much from March. It looks like Saturday will be a
good day for bees and people, then the long haul to Wednesday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

First Day of Spring

It's nice to be able to compare the rates of syrup being consumed by
the bees in both hives. They have both taken up half of a quart in
just over two hours. This is the first time I have cared for bees in
the waning weeks of winter. Now that spring is officially here this
blog will help me to chronical all the changes I see taking place in
and around the hives. All pictures and postings will be done in the
field with my ever-ready iPhone (recently identified as an addiction).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Start

A picture from July 2009, just starting out with two hives that I
purchased from Joe Caton of BeeMan Direct. I borrowed a 1950's
bulldozer from a friend to carve out this apiary in some sumac trees.

Today 3/17/10 - St. Patrick's Day was warm and both hives had consumed
a quart of 1:1 by late afternoon. I replenished both around 5:00 PM.
Sunny and mild, mid 50s, the bees were very active.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Feral Colony

The bees out in the back seem to be active. This catalpa tree is home
to the honey bees that got me interested in beekeeping last season.
After reading about the decimation of the wild bee population it
seemed like a perfect time to purchase some bees.
A fellow sailor and friend of mine in Toronto had talked to me several
years ago about becoming a beekeeper, and it always seemed like a
wonderful activity. With the purchase of an old farmhouse on a couple
acres of land the time was right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Good Stuff

It warmed up today to about 56 - degrees and sunny all day. By 6:00 PM
the bees in hive "B", what I thought was the weaker hive going into
winter, had consumed a quart of 1:1. The stronger hive "A" (pictured
here) had dropped about half a quart. I refreshed B and left A alone
to see where they would be tomorrow.
Both hives seemed very active.

End of a Warm Day

Monday, March 15, 2010

Feeding the Bees

This week it cooled off and the bees were not as active as they had
been last week as temperatures reached the fifties for the first time
this year - it was time to start feeding the bees. Today it was in the
forties - I mixed a 1:1 syrup for the entrance feeders and expanded
the opening for the bees to about one and a half inches. When I placed
my ear against the hive and tapped the side I could hear the loud
buzzing from the clusters in both hives. I'm hoping this is a good sign.

Shoulders of Giants

I have two hives that I purchased at the beginning of summer 2009. I probably would not have these two hives if it weren't for the help and encouragement of Joe Caton of BeeMan Dirrect.

A little about Joe from his apiary supply store on the web:

E.J. Caton started his journey in beekeeping back in1963.His mentor was Amos Archer who taught him everything he knew until his passing in the early 70's. Early on Caton started thirsting for more when he began working his own hives, and went to the local libraries, and the local university's library seeking out anything he could find about Honeybees and about Beekeeping.

Years passed and his hive numbers expanded quickly as he and his father started seeking out places to go and things to buy. Buying out equipment from other old timer beekeepers such as hand crank extractor, tools, hives and anything that he could use. He even made his own observation hive, after reading about them in a monthly bee magazine he was receiving.

Years later his father was killed in a terrible, tragic accident by, not one, but three drunk drivers. Joe was a senior in High School when he lost his father.

Joe went on to college and met a woman he married and one year later started a family. His Beekeeping days were put on hold until his girls were grown and on their own. Now he is back and is enjoying his first love,
and he loves to share this love for nature and his honeybees, with others, and with you.

E.J. Caton's business is located in Seneca, PA
Email: beeman@beemandirect.com