It’s all about the bees

Honey bees are very interesting creatures. They are a matriarchal society and extremely organized. The reason I am discussing them is I am officially becoming a beekeeper, otherwise known as apiarist. I did some research and took a beekeeping class from Paul Cronshaw (“The Beeman”) at Fairview Gardens ( http://www.fairviewgardens.org/). Next step: build a beehive. The plans for building the highly popular 10-frame Langstroth Beehive are readily available online at The Bee Source (http://www.beesource.com/). I bought a 4′ x 8′ x 3/4″ sheet of plywood last night and will start cutting the boards for the hive today. I’m so excited!

Honey bees do wonderful things for us. Did you realize that without these workers we would suffer a serious food shortage? Their top job is to pollinate plants many of which are the plants that produce our fruits, vegetables, nuts, wine grapes, hops for beer, etc. And recently several perils are affecting the mere existence of the honeybee. Their numbers have been dwindling. Many things have been identified as killers of the bees so beekeepers are becoming more and more vital to the survival of the honeybee and as stewards to the survival of U.S. agriculture. Beekeepers can travel across the country with their hives to service crops in need of pollination. ROAD TRIP!!!

Now about honey. Some people say that taking honey from a beehive is stealing from the bees. In the purest sense, this is true. But bees who live in southern California rarely need to depend on stores of honey for survival since normally there are  nectar bearing flowers available to them year round. This is especially true for the urban bee with households maintaining flower gardens in their yards. So honey is a big perk for beekeepers.

Another direct product from the bee is beeswax. Did you know that burning beeswax candles produce no soot? And it’s great for polishing wood… and surf boards. Actually, the list of uses for beeswax is HUGE! I will have to develop the list for myself as my wax stash grows.

Enough blogging. I must begin building. I will post photos to document my progress in future posts. Sign up for your very own bottle of pure, organic honey real soon.

Self employment here I come

I better get cracking on launching my business. Being unemployed I cannot use the excuse that I have no time. I applied for an Etsy account and did a few things to set up my store but mostly have been spending lots of my time researching and reading all sorts of online information about starting a business. Etsy has a tremendous online source of information and various methods of support. After all, if the Etsy stores are successful then Etsy is successful as well. But I am feeling frozen in my efforts. This is all new to me and I suppose I am afraid of failure. Classic, right? So I have an appointment to meet and discuss my business plans with someone from SCORE counseling. SCORE (http://www.score.org) is “a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed” according to their website. Maybe with some hand-holding I can get past my fear and jump into the task at hand. Discipline versus procrastination.

The desire is to be sole proprietor of my own company and spend my days doing the kind of work that I enjoy. I have a few ideas for what I would like to pursue as a business besides selling my handcrafted jewelry. Starting a small farm on my property is another. When I eventually move onto the property to live full time I hope to add chickens, goats, sheep, possibly alpacas, and a fish pond for talapia. I could still continue my jewelry business and expand into fiber arts thanks to the generosity of my four-legged friends. Wish me luck or, better still, kick me in the butt and say “get cracking!”

My rural mailbox

Dave and I drove out with the dogs to my property last Saturday to put a mailbox out on the street so I can receive mail delivery. It must be placed on a certain corner close to my property alongside about ten other mailboxes. The box had to have a key lock since I won’t be collecting my mail on a daily basis. Then we needed to tackle the problem of mounting. Did we have to get a four-by-four post and cement it in the ground? Should we use a big conduit pipe and mount a fitting to the bottom of the box and screw the pipe into it? Now just picture this; we are on a street corner out in the boonies with just a few tools and good old elbow grease. Surprisingly to me, Home Depot sells a mounting kit that screws onto the mailbox and screws into the ground! Yes, that’s right. Screws into the ground. How simple and convenient. As we were working on this project, my neighbor who lives across the street from the mailboxes, saw us and came over to introduce himself. Pat said he has 20 acres and a few horses. He was, however, concerned about where we were locating my mailbox. I told him this was where the mail carrier told me to put it, to the right of the last mailbox in the row. I asked him what he had against the location and he made a gesture that mimicked someone hitting a home run. Apparently people in these rural areas like to beat up on mailboxes sitting out along the street. I noticed a few of the boxes looked slightly distorted. I wonder if I can find a rubber mailbox for sale online?

Me and my mailbox

Researching agricultural business

Thanks to Tom Shea with UC Riverside Extension Cooperative for all his words of wisdom, I now have more research to conduct in my endeavor to be a successful farmer. First and foremost I must get my soil and water tested by the RiversideCorona Resource Conservation District (RCRCD). Then I must talk to local nursery operators with intimate knowledge of what likes to grow in my location or “micro-climate.” California is riddled with micro-climates and mine is at 4500 feet in altitude. The ideal time to purchase fruit trees is December and January because they are available as bear root and that is a major cost saver. Also, southern California gets most of its rain in the winter months so that will help with watering to get the little fellows kick-started. I would love to get connected with other people who have or are going through this same process for support and to commiserate. I’m assuming there will be commiserating.