Nothing makes me happier than a new subscriber, except when one of my readers sends me something they think will be of interest to me. My most faithful readers tell everyone about the blog and send me the most intriguing things. THANK YOU!!
Going forward I will share what readers send me more regularly, but here I am sharing the most interesting stuff from the last few months which includes some pretty cool takes on bees, weather, beavers, donkeys, gardening, wildlife -- each of them exciting in their own way. Check it out and keep sending stuff my way!
BEES & BEEKEEPING
If you keep bees, your friends might send you bee laden gifts (I am the proud recipient of a "Bee Happy" sweatshirt, a bee spoon, queen bee makeup bags, a beekeeper keychain, bee earrings, a bee necklace pendant, and honeycomb mixing bowls) and interesting bee news as well. And there's a lot to know. Bees are fascinating and challenging, so innovation abounds.
Have you heard of a Flow Hive? Basically, you tend your bees, they do their thing and you turn on a tap to let the honey out. No making the bees mad, no hot knife to open the capped comb, no sticky floors, no spin out the honey party. You just line up your jar or your spoon and voila, the honey flows right out. One reader sent me the indiegogo link to the Flow Hive 2, which raised over $14,000,000 for research and development. What?!? I include the link here. It's a bit promotional and it certainly makes you want a Flow Hive, but it made me wonder how it really worked. I asked around. I heard that it crushed the honeycomb. That sounded bad to me. I also heard it was really expensive. Hmmmm. Upon further research, I found one to be true and the other to be false. The hives are expensive at over $700 each (compared to under $200 for the boxes and frames) and they appear to have some issues fulfilling orders at the moment. But on a fascinating look inside the Flow Hive, I found that the comb is actually provided by the hive itself, the bees fill it up and cap it off and when it's all full, the Flow Hive has a crank that splits the comb in half temporarily and tilts the two halves in different directions creating a ladder for the honey to flow out and into a jar. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Fascinating. It's amazing what you can think of for $14 million. Watch this video to see it in action.
In other bee news... The Slovenians seem to have some good ideas about housing bees kibbutz style. They group them together for warmth and create a way to tend them from the back from inside the hut which minimizes the beekeeper's exposure to bees. And they're painted so beautifully (see below)! In Montana, folks are developing a bee app to check on the status of your hives using artificial intelligence applied to the sound a hive makes to predict certain maladies. The same technology might be able to help bees find land mines. Fascinating. Read the article in The Economist here. In Detroit, bees bees bees. Black beekeepers are bringing bees to vacant lots. Read it in the Huff Post here. This article in The New Yorker is a must-read caper that involves bees, maraschino cherries and plenty of intrigue. If sports is more your thing, you might like to know more about The Super Bowl of Beekeeping, same if you are into almonds. If you have caught the beekeeping bug, you will be really excited, like one reader was, when you get your first beekeeping suit (see cute pic below). If you like the sun or the idea of solar power, this bee story might make you feel warm all over. If you are more the scientific type, this bee news is going to tickle your fancy. The world -- and farm girl's readers -- are jazzed about bees and you might now have the (right) idea that bees can appeal to folks with varied interests. More will come and I will share!
Donkeys are delightful. They are also a good topic of conversation if you are lacking one or trying not to talk about something else. Trust me. If you keep donkeys, other donkeys become your friends too. Thanks for all the pictures of the donkeys! Here are some from Greece, the Caribbean, Ireland, Kenya and Colombia that readers sent me. Murphy and Clover have it good, except for the snowy winters... and the onslaught of flies in the summer. At least they don't have to carry heavy burdens... yet. They have, for the first time, begun to contribute to the farm. Their manure pile, now well composted and aged, is helping the garden thrive. Way to go guys! Beasts of burden you are not, but thanks for pitching in. When you travel, look for donkeys and send me some pics! As a bonus, I urge you to watch this video, posted on The Dodo. It cheers me up on a gloomy day.
Sometimes, I get a good question. Like the recent "Hey farmgirl, I saw a mama deer abandon her baby. I hope it will be alright. What do you think?" I referred the reader to this post. And yes, it'll be ok. Nature is precious. It's good to be concerned.
The environment is also a big topic and between some awesome displays of nature's power and concern over our future, we have some things to review. I am sure you heard about the May hailstorm in the Catskills. But I don't know if you saw it yourself or if you saw what it could do to a barn or a car. Below are some TBTs to catch you up. My reader called it "global weirding," and I couldn't agree more. And I hope you have not become anesthetized by the recent lack of love for the environment from the executive branch. Despite that abysmal situation, local, regional and national environmental organizations are still fighting and often winning. Where lawyers and the environment morph you will find some special powers. One reader, stressed by a maelstrom of otherwise disappointing news took solace and inspiration from the NRDC's recent revolution. Let's pay close attention here.
How's your garden? Are you growing any hops? Chances are they are either doing really well, and by really well I mean they are taking over your garden and your life, OR they are struggling. They are an interesting plant that takes three years or so to get started. Once you get the plants to three feet, they soar skyward on whatever they can grab and go nuts. One reader shared this with me. Besides being good for your beer making hobby, they are now considered a superfood. If you've ever seen a hops, I think you'd agree that it looks weird enough to be a superfood. I think that's a good excuse to drink another beer.
Finally, inspiration from nature never ceases. I saw it with my own eyes and got some great pictures of others from readers. The mighty beaver makes his dam alongside the river, building a home for his family. And another one nearby, one hiker reports to have been here for some 30 years. What an empire!
Some of nature, like the hail on the barn, can be menacing. The bears this season have been menacing too. They killed my neighbor's 30 hens and a few of mine too. I built a big fence and added a zapper. My neighbor, on the other hand, stung his bear with something else. My favorite farmer was also menaced by a bear, but not any more. Stay tuned for a more detailed report about the bears and a series of consultations with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. But for now, bears.
Readers, keep it coming. I love to read it. It's fun to share. If you've been holding out on me, let loose and send me your best stuff.
xoxo, farm girl