Sunday, October 11, 2009

Oh, Honey!


I've finished my course of anti-biotics, but am still feeling really lousy. I woke up feeling rotten, but dragged myself to a class on backyard beekeeping, because we had already paid for it.

The class was being taught at an honest-to-goodness bio-diesel filling station, which I had never had reason to visit before. (Diesel cars are hard to come by in the Bay Area, because lots and lots of people want to run their cars on used vegetable oil. We looked for a diesel wagon when Robb got his most recent car, but couldn't afford anything that was young enough to have airbags. A clunker with no airbags was a deal-killer, even if we could run it on used french fry grease.)

I've dreamt of keeping bees, since Robb and I visited a beekeeping supply place in Greenwich New York a number of years ago. Being an apartment dweller, and someone who moves around a lot for work kept the idea of beekeeping in the realm of fantasy. But as soon as we started looking to buy a house, I started dreaming about backyard hives again.

The class was fascinating, and very empowering. I'm hoping to order some bees this fall, and get all my materials together over the winter, so that I can start keeping bees in the spring.

And just in case blog readers aren't totally convinced that I've gone completely insane now that I have a garden of my own, I should mention that I made my second trip in two days to a pet store and rabbit rescue place that gives out free bags of used rabbit bedding. I'm hoping that all that rabbit waste really gets my compost cooking!


Kellyann Brown said...

My dad goes to this place down in Morgan Hill that sells the stuff they grow mushrooms in... he swears by it.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Tell me more!!!

What place in Morgan Hill?

Mary Jo said...

Rabbit dung is so mild that you can put it straight on your garden (for the most part). Back when I had a bunny I used to make a rabbit dung tea and pour it on things. Now I use chicken dung which works wonders for the garden and trees but is pretty hot stuff and totally different indeed.

sprovazza said...

I've used mushroom compost up here in NS and it was fantastic! Can't seem to get it nowadays but my plants loved it and the next season I had the biggest button mushrooms on the planet!

knitica said...

You are my hero! I've also been dreaming of beekeeping, especially now that we're buying a house, but I keep forgetting that my brother in law is pretty dang allergic. Chris wants to get the bees anyway and use them as a way to threaten his brother. Like when he wants something he could put just one bee in a jar and take it to his brother, brandish it, and say somthing like, "this little girl here says you WILL loan me that ladder, and she has 300 sisters who agree. Don't make me bring her sisters into this."

We've started composting all of our rabbit litter. The litter is supposed to be even better than just the manure because you get all the nitrogen from the urine. We've found that it's the litter part that needs a few turnings through the compost cycle to brake down. As Mary Jo said, the manure can go right on the garden. We sometimes drop a handful in the hole first when planting. It's supposed to be especially good for roses.

I composted some of Rusty's litter years ago in Springfield for our garden there and it worked well. It was the corn cobb based litter, so it was still a little cobby when I put in in the garden the next summer, but that didn't seem to be a problem. What kind of litter is in what you're getting?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Erica -- the litter is a mix of straw and some kind of paper fluff. I'm not usually a huge fan of putting paper into compost, but I'm going to keep an eye on this, and see how it goes.

As far as the allergies... Beekeepers will tell you that European honeybees are pretty docile, unless they are threatened. I just read a fascinating account of moving a feral hive that was in a poor location, and how the two beekeepers who did the work accomplished the task without being stung.

Here's that link:

(Read the commentary that goes along with the photos!)

Anonymous said...

Hey- My uncle Walter Gojmerac was actually a professor at Wisconsin of BEEKEEPING! 1960's thru 80's.

There may be a few of his books online for sale if you are interested. It is a good aproach to the subject, but a bit academic. Not too great as a starter guide.

I get alpaca poop for my gardens- looks exactly like rabbit poop- alpacas have 3 stomachs and so thier little poops are instantly compostable- just put them alongside the plants or put them in the earth. The first year I put a lot on my gound and it just sat there- it did eventually break down, but the second year when I was able to actually dig up the soil a bit first and let the poop get mixed into the soil itself it worked better. My garden dirt was pretty hard and compacted. It is also a natural deer repellant.

Call up an alpaca farmer. I am lucky we get it by the truckload for free fropm down the block- most places SELL it. If you were closer we would literally show up with a truckload of free shit for you- literally, and you are the only person other than me who would be estatic about it!

Let's hear it for Bees and Poop!


Anonymous said...

Our son, the Berkley firefighter who lives in Oakland, has backyard bees and chickens. The chickens eat the kitchen scraps then give them great fertilizer to mix with their compost to feed the garden to make more kitchen scraps.... Dave handles the chickens. His wife Molly has the bees. Nothing like urban farming!

Grumpy Grinch/Susan and Frank

Kim said...

I love that little biofuel oasis! I drive by it every day on my way to work, and it makes me smile...even though I don't have a compatible car. They got a nice little write-up in Bust Magazine this month, too! :)

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Dear Grinchies --

Do you think we might meet your family and their farm some day? I would love to chat with someone who knows their beekeeping.

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

Oh, man, please don't plant this idea in my mom's head. *shaking head*

-- Ryan


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