To join, click here.
Bees. Honey. Year three. 2019. Yay! Before we dive in to the nitty gritty, can I discuss something with you? Here goes.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You might even participate in one. Basically, you pay a fee to the farmer, literally for "seed" money that the farmer uses to buy -- you guessed it -- seeds and as those seeds grow you get some veggies. So, CSA.
When we started this fun project, somehow we got all excited about calling it a BSA because B rhymes with C. (You can see we operate on a very high level here... me and Dr. Seuss... good company, I guess.) In the BeeSA you pay a fee up front to help the bees and the environment, to develop best practices and to share them, to pay for supplies and services and then you get honey when it's harvested, like the veggies in a CSA. Ok. So, we are all on the same page here, right? BUT. BUT, doesn't it make MORE sense for this to be a CSB? Community Supported Bees? It does, right? I mean, that's what this is. The C for Community is really important (don't start singing the "C is for Cookie" song, or you will lose focus). The CSBee. It's been bugging me (no pun intended). So, to BeeSA or to CSBee? That is the question.
CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSBee. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB. CSB.
Whether you continue to call it a BeeSA (you know who you are) or the more accurate CSBee, welcome to the 2109 season -- our third year! Just this week, the final honey share from 2018 was united with its shareholder. Sometimes the TO in Farm TO Table is the most complicated. Do NOT get me started.
About the BSA/CSB
Ok, so we have these beehives, right? But what is the point of this anyway? Why are we doing this? Here's the rundown:
Bees are vulnerable. Because of that, they are also bellwethers for environmental changes and, well, unsafe and unhealthy practices. When gardeners or farmers or the government apply pesticides to their gardens, farms and landscapes, bees suffer and die.
Bees are important. Bees pollinate plants and make much of the food that we eat possible. Fruit, nuts, vegetables. More than one third of the food we eat needs pollinators, like honeybees.
Bees have a lot of enemies. Humans harm them with pesticides, yes. But others are after them as well. Varroa mites. Wax moths. Skunks. Bears. You name it. They feed on the larvae.
Best practices vary. Different climate zones and patterns create different challenges and needs for bees. Beekeepers have to respond. And, our climate is changing. Shocker, I know. But we have to keep up on the beekeeping front.
Having bees is fun. It is also a lot to know, a lot to do and the expenses add up. Plus, there's the getting stung part. And the weight of the responsibility not to let them down. I know, I said fun. And it is FUN, and being part of the CSBee allows you to have all of the fun -- hive updates, visits whenever you want to don a bee suit, some fun events here and there (like harvesting) and, well, honey.
Bees are political. We keep up with some of our environmental friends to stay abreast of the developments in Albany and in DC so that you can be knowledgeable and take action when appropriate too.
When you are part of the CSB, you get all the good stuff without the sting and you get bragging rights. They are your bees, after all. Thousands and thousands of bees working hard for you every day. Next time you go to a cocktail party, make sure to mention that you have no less than 100,000 ladies working for you!
CSBee Goals for 2019
Bees are very goal directed. Their single goal is to survive. To do that they must reproduce and make honey. Other objectives include keeping the queen happy and healthy or replacing her. Others still include defending the hive. It's pretty straightforward.
So, taking a page out of the bee's playbook I am adding a new goal to the CSB this year. More members. More members will allow us to continue supporting the bees: tending services, mowing their field, treating them with mite prevention, feeding them when needed, troubleshooting, replacing old or inadequate infrastructure, keeping the predators at bay, etc.
We don't need a ton more members, but we do need a handful. The goal is 15 new members. And to do this, I need your help. Here's how:
Renew your share or shares now (early bird special until March 15).
Consider adding another share for an excellent discount ($25 off).
Find a friend who loves the environment, loves honey and/or is fascinated with bees and ask them to join us!
For every new member you bring on, I have a beautiful 9 oz. honey bear jar of delicious honey waiting for you as a BONUS... complete with a cute honey dipper! And, yes, I will deliver it!
Thanks for being part of the BSA turned CSB and for your continued support of these little bugs. 100% of the fees from your CSB membership and added shares is used to support the bees (see the litany of what that means below). When membership fees don't cover everything, as was the case in 2018, I step in to help. So the bees always get top notch care and feeding. I promise.
2019 Fee Structure and Sign Up
Early Bird (On or before March 15)
Second Share Discount $150
Regular (After March 15)
Second Share Discount $175
* In year 1, the basic membership fee was $250 to cover start up infrastructure costs. Now we are on more of a maintenance program and thus the lower base fee. Seems fair, right?
To join, click here.
Those of you who have been around for a bit might remember this, and it bears repeating: Our goal is honey. We can never guarantee it. This is the "what if a bear, what if a tornado, what if a robber, what if anything" clause. That said, we delivered more than twice the honey in year two as in year one and are aiming for even more this year.
Our CSB Bees by the Numbers
If you are a number lover like I am, you might use the following stats to impress your friends. I have a feeling you are going to be a bit stunned by how much work these bees do and how much work they take to keep alive. Fun facts!
Right now each hive (for the ones that are still kicking) has between 10,000 and 15,000 bees inside. These bees have a specialized function to winter over and were probably born in or around August. Otherwise, the average bee lives about three weeks.
When the first real signs of spring come, the bees will need to staff up to 85 to 100 thousand bees per hive. Times 10 hives in the CSB. So +/- a million bees.
If we need to replace a hive, that's $200 to $250 per hive for about 5,000 bees on five frames (so they start a bit behind the 8 ball). I predict we will need at least four this year ($1000). Hopefully, that's it.
We go through 50 pound bags of sugar like they're Lay's Potato Chips. Before the forage comes and after heavy rains, the bees need some supplemental food. So we make it in a 1:1 ratio. Later in the season, after the harvest, they get a more concentrated syrup that can be converted to honey faster for winter storage. And then about 50 pounds of solid brown winter bee food gets them through the winter.
The bees get two mite treatments each season. One before they make all the honey and one after we harvest it. Each mite treatment has to be given to 10 hives, three times, each a week apart. Twice. 300 service units.
Each hive is visited and fed or checked two to three times a week between April and October. You can tell a lot from observing a hive on a regular basis and can see pretty quickly if something funny is going on. Hopefully, but not always, you can change the direction or assist in fixing the issue before it is too late. Last year's BSA had more than 600 unique activities to support it by a team of four beekeepers, including yours truly.
Each hive has 20 regular frames: 10 for brood and 10 for honey. They also have a 1-gallon feeder for slow times. Then, we are always at the ready with two supers per hive, each with 10 frames. So that's 400 frames for 40 hive boxes with 80 lids and 10 feeders, 10 reducers, and more. Infrastructure. Plus hive stands and a ga-zunta electric fence to keep the bears out.
Come harvest time, there's a lot of heavy lifting going on. It's a sticky mess. And then there is filtering and filling washed and dried jars and labeling and packaging and someone (ahem) to do it.
Finally, the TO. Pick up points. Personal delivery and a few custom pick ups. You gotta get your honey. This is a free service. No membership fees needed!
To be honest, the bees do most of the work. Here are the numbers. A single bee will produce about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime (+/- three weeks). To make a single one pound jar of honey, bees fly 55,000 miles and visit 2 million flowers. Not impressed yet? If we paid the bees minimum wage ($11.50 per hour) each jar of honey would cost approximately $7.7 million. This is fun math.
I am sure you are exhausted after reading about all the work going on in the CSB. I am too. Hopefully, now you are all jazzed up to help by buying your own share, perhaps a second share and getting JUST ONE FRIEND to buy a share in the CSB this year. How awesome would that bee?
To join, click here. Thanks, beeople. You know I love you.
XOXO Farm Girl
The CSBee is a program of Catskill Mountain Honey which you can visit on line for more information at catskillmountainhoney.com.
The CSBee has a blog -- The Buzz -- that you can follow to keep up with the bees and their helpers here.