Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, March 26, 2017



As I had reported a few weeks ago, the bees did not make it through the winter.  The big question was "Should we take the honey?"  I really struggled with this decision.  I tried to read about what to do, I make phone calls, and asked on top bar forums and got mixed answers (no surprise there...).  I went into the hive and started cleaning things out.

I could tell that the bees were not located close enough to the honey.  That is probably one reason they did not make it.  Live and learn...

The good news is that there is lots of nice brood comb all ready for the new bees.  Once I got in there, I decided that we would take the honey and feed the bees with sugar water to get the new bees started. I kinda figured that the last bees started with absolutely nothing and they were quite prolific.  At least the new bees will not be starting from scratch.  Making beeswax for the comb is labor intensive for the bees and now they have at least 10 bars of brood comb to get them going so they can immediately start concentrating on stashing honey.

In addition, we might be moving the hive soon (hint, hint) and it would be easier to move an empty hive than one full of 30 pounds of honey.  

Here I am getting started with collecting the honey.  When you have a top bar hive, you have to collect the honey by crushing the honeycomb and then straining out the honey.  I am using the yellow buckets on the left for this.  The top is lined with a cloth strainer and it has holes in the bottom to allow the honey to flow through into the bottom bucket.

Here I have separated the bars.  All the bars on the right are being saved for brood comb for the new bees.  The bars on the left will be harvested for honey.

Here is some comb that I melted down to save for beeswax.

Here is the inside of the top bucket.  I used a potato masher to crush up the comb to release the honey.

 We let the honey drain for a week.  Then, put it into jars.

Here is the crushed comb that I melted down for beeswax.  I knew there was going to be a little more honey left in the comb but I ended up getting 3 more pints of honey out of the wax!  

Here is some of the honey we collected.  We got well over a gallon of honey!

Last weekend, Mark and I went to the arboretum at the University of Idaho for a walk.  This heath was blooming and we saw some bees there!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sustainable Farm Law 101

The past couple of weeks, I attended 2 workshops that were sponsored by Rural Roots.

Rural Roots mission is to support and enhance sustainable agriculture and local food systems in the Inland NW and beyond.  The first presentation was about Sustainable Farm Law 101.  I will be discussing this one today.  The second presentation was about Farm Finances.  I will talk about the Farm Finances presentation in a future blog...

Farm Law

The Sustainable Farm Law presentation was presented by Farm Commons.  

Farm Commons believes strong, resilient, sustainable farm businesses are built on a solid legal foundation.  Farm Commons has a good amount of free training's on their website.  Just click on the "Tutorial" tab.

Our first point of discussion was Entities.  The focus of the discussion was on the differences between a sole proprietorship, a limited liability company (LLC) and a corporation.  There is a nice tutorial called "The What, Why and How of Choosing and Organizing a Business Entity for the Farm" on the Farm Commons website.  

Next point of discussion was Land Matters and leasing versus buying farm land.  We discussed what to look for in a lease and to make sure to know any zoning regulations that might limit what you can do on the property.  There is a tutorial about lease issues called "Farmland Leases Built to Last: Content and Legal Context".

Sales and indemnification was the next topic.  This included discussions of selling wholesale versus direct sales and doing a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) model.  Most importantly is negotiating the sales agreement.  Sales Contracts for Farm Produce: Why and How is a tutorial with this information.  

Next topic was workers.  This included discussion of interns, volunteers, employees and contractors.  Another tutorial addresses this issue:  Making Employment Law Work For Your Farm.  Employment law is probably the single most complex legal concern for farmers so it's important to get it right.

Food Safety was the next topic.  Food Safety Liability And Regulations For The Farm is a tutorial that addresses these concerns.  Each state has different regulations about food safety so it is important to know what regulations are for your area.

Lastly, we talked about agritourism.  Having on farm events is a great way to promote your farm but there are lots of legakl issues to consider.  Hosting Safe, Legally Secure Farm Events provides some direction about how to legally host a safe event.  

Another underlying message of the day was the importance of having appropriate insurance to protect your farm.  Insurance for the Farm: Policies and Principles to Efficiently Manage Risk covers common insurance options and how to navigate them to find the right policy for your farm. 

So, if you took the time to watch all these tutorials, you would pretty much have all the information that I got that day.  Each tutorial is about 1 hour 30 minutes long.