Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gifts for the Season

Hello, honey lovers!

We have comb honey, bottled honey, soaps, and pure beeswax candles available for your gift-giving needs this year. We can provide shipping to individual clients for corporate gifts. We offer clear or holiday-themed cellophane gift bags for soaps, candles, and one-pound bottles of honey. We can also create custom combinations. Sweet gifts for teachers!


Soap: $5
Candles: $4
1-lb honey: $7.50
2-lb honey: $12
3-lb honey: $15
1 gallon: $50
Comb honey: $9 (approx. 14 oz.) *We can't ship the comb honey because the containers don't seal tightly.

If you live out of the Golden Triangle area and need items shipped, the cost of shipping will be added to your total.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Link to Farmweek episode, comb honey, and an update

If you want to see the Farmweek TV segment featuring Mississippi beekeepers, click here.

It's mid-October, and Mark is finally harvesting honey, which is so late it's crazy. It's been a tough year, with an incredibly long, cool spring, several hive failures, and difficulty getting the weather needed to harvest.

Last week he pulled 12 supers. One of those was an experiment from last fall: a super with wax foundation instead of plasticell, with the hope the bees would give us solid honeycomb.

Mark managed to cut about 35 squares weighing about 14 oz. each. The honey is dark and robust, with pollen evident. If you want one of these boxes of comb honey, call or text Mark at 662.418.4422. Once they're gone, they're gone. $9 each, refill discount does not apply.

Today he left early to go to the Delta bee yard and harvest there. It will be fun to see and taste the differences in the varieties.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Filming for Farmweek

On Wednesday my colleague, Amy, asked if Mark would consent to be interviewed for Farmweek, a TV show produced by MSU's Office of Agricultural Communications, where I work in media relations. She said she was in a bind and really needed someone to help her out with finishing her beekeeping story.
I said yes. (We checked with our bosses about conflict of interest. I'm not on camera.)

Then Thursday night I stayed up way past my bedtime -- til 10:30 p.m.! -- making soaps and candles to show that side of our beekeeping adventure.

She came over this afternoon, though there was a chance of rain.

Mark thought it would pass by south of us.

Watching the sky

Once she got him hooked up with a microphone and the interview began . . .

it started sprinkling.

But we pressed on.

Then the sky opened up and it poured. We grabbed all of the camera equipment and rode the 4-wheeler back to the house. We were drenched from head to toe.

Amy looked like an orphan wearing my clothes while hers dried. 

She filmed Mark in the honey room.


She is going to have to come back next week and film again. Originally I was going to be in the B-roll of the hive inspections, but now I'm not so sure. ;-)

On the positive side, I have several candles and bars of soap I can sell.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Second Day of Summer

I guess it's only fitting that we experienced the highs and lows of beekeeping on the second official day of summer.

Our first stop this morning was the newest beeyard, located in Starkville. The bees are putting up honey like crazy! This is the "before" picture. We added honey supers, checked all of the hives to make sure they were queen-right, and sweated through our clothes.

Beautiful honey with "wet" cappings.

Our second stop was at the Tripletts' house. Mark thought, going into it, he had one dead hive. The bees haven't thrived there and we suspect there's just not enough for them to eat. As soon as we took the lid off, I could smell something stinky. Sure enough, the only bees in the hive were there to rob the honey, and small hive beetles had laid eggs in the comb -- one corner of the hive was crawling with nasty larvae, and several frame tops were covered in slime. (Don't worry, no pictures of THAT.)

But that was only the first hive. The second hive was struggling, but appeared to have a newly mated queen. All of the available comb space had eggs and young larvae, though there was no capped brood in the single deep box they occupied. Our fingers are crossed that this small population will bounce back. They have stored honey, but need more bees.

Then, in the third hive, we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. It wasn't that the hive was struggling -- it was actually bursting at the seams. It had so many bees they overflowed the sides of the boxes. Bees flowed out of the box like lava. We had to change out the bottom board in the midst of all this chaos . . . and that was when Mark saw the queen in the grass in front of the hive. He tried to catch her, and couldn't.

We spent agonizing minutes trying to put the hive back together in hopes the bees would get inside and make finding the queen easier. Even though we had stacked 2 deeps and added 2 mediums, they wouldn't go inside. I crouched in the grass in front of the hive and carefully pushed aside grass and weeds and then I saw her! Mark quickly removed his gloves . . . and she crawled right up on his finger. He set his finger on the bottom board and she marched right into the hive. Within 10 minutes, several hundred bees had returned to the safety of their nice, dark, newly expanded hive.


Our last stop was at Bee Hill, to drop off the frames of honey from the failed hive. There were 2 deep boxes with frames full of honey, so we'll let the bees rob it out, and we'll be on the watch for an invasion of small hive beetles once those larvae that tagged along become adults. Blech.

On a good note: Bee Hill is LOADED with honey. Once Mark's back is better, he plans to harvest.

On another good note: my garden is doing well, and this morning I had a visitor!

This guest was about the size of a dinner plate!

This melon vine volunteered in the raised bed. Who knows how it will turn out?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Swarm Call: A Photo Essay

On one of Mark's swarm calls, the kind homeowner took photos of him on her phone (from the safety of the house) and sent them to us. I thought I'd share!

With the wet and cold spring, the bees have really struggled. Mark has had a hard time getting into the hives to work them so we'll probably end up with swarm-offs. We know of at least one -- Mr. Barham called, giddy with excitement, that he'd seen a swarm exit one of our hives and head into the woods. In his 80s, that was the first time he'd seen that natural phenomenon.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bees are a Few of My Favorite Things

Beekeeping is not my only interest. In fact, it's very recent compared to my interest in children's books and writing. This week I'm combining them!

This week I wrote a poem in response to another poet's work. You can read about it at my other blog, 

Or, you can read the poem, below.

Bees are a Few of My Favorite Things
by Keri Collins Lewis

Worker bees flying so busy and buzzy
Covered with tiny hairs --  bristly and fuzzy
High speeding fliers with transparent wings,
Bees are a few of my favorite things.

Workers bring pollen in pink, gold and yellow
Drones mooching free food, they’re stingless and mellow
Tending our hives without one single sting!
Bees are a few of my favorite things

When a mouse nests,
When we find pests,
Queenless bees are sad,
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad

Hearing a queen pipe her song to her sisters
Dreaming of bee veils outfitted with misters
Working outside while the mockingbirds sing,
Bees are a few of my favorite things

Perfectly capped frames of golden sweet honey
Vendors at meetings who take all our money
Wildflowers dancing on Bee Hill each spring
These are a few of my favorite things

When a hive dies
When my spouse sighs
When bees sting like mad,
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don’t feel so bad!

Photo by Robert Lewis, taken at our raised beds when the broccoli bloomed. Check out the pollen that bee has packed onto her legs!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

First Spring Work Day at Bee Hill

If the weather could be as perfect all summer as it was today, we'd both be full-time beekeepers. A light breeze, beautiful sun, and temperatures in the low 70s . . . I didn't even sweat!

A friend of Andrew's loaned us his Mule while he's out of town. We like the bigger bed space and bench seat!

Today we worked the 7 hives on our property. Earlier in the week Mark worked the bees at Barhams' and the week before that, at Harley's. Two colonies at Barhams' didn't make it, but all six at Harley's are doing well.

It's been a cold, wet spring, and the bees haven't had much of a chance to get out. Which means the beekeepers haven't gotten into the hives much!

That said, today they were bringing in *pink* pollen from the redbud trees, as well as yellow, orange and white pollen. Pollen will stimulate the queens to lay more eggs and build up the colonies' populations.

I can safely say that all 7 colonies are in good shape. We took two frames of solid honey from #3 to give to #4, which had a big population and no honey left whatsoever. Since #4 was the first hive we opened, we were concerned, especially since we did not harvest honey from this yard in the late summer!

Fortunately, this was the only hive without enough resources to make it through this weird spring.

Mark got a ventilated jacket with a hood last year, and really likes it.
 The most interesting thing we discovered was that leaving 2 deep boxes and multiple mediums on top filled with honey, combined with a cold, wet spring, resulted in abandonment of the brood chambers. We discovered "chalkbrood" -- a fungal disease that takes hold when there aren't enough nurse bees to keep the brood warm. The bees in at least 2 of our colonies were too spread out, and resources were far from the brood chamber. In both of these cases, the queen and workers had simply moved up to where the honey and pollen was, and took up residence there.

We ended up taking off both deeps from #2 and leaving a stack of three mediums. On another, we removed one deep.

It was so lovely to be back in the bee yard! All of the hives were docile and content, happily humming without showing signs of aggression. Well, except #7, and by then it had clouded up and gotten windy, so perhaps that was part of the problem.

Every year we learn more about what to do and what not to do. Mark has a lot of work to do in terms of killing weeds and ants out at Bee Hill. Next week he's going to set up a bee yard in Starkville for a guy who is starting an organic farm.

He got the first swarm call of the year yesterday, and like last year, it was a false alarm. And, like last year, it was because bees were going crazy in some holly bushes. It won't be long, though, until the weather warms up and the swarm calls come in. We're ready!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I snapped this photo this morning at about 7:30 a.m. We had snow today, on my birthday! It reminded me of this walk we took in the snow to see the beehives. It's rained for so many days we can't even get to the hives on Bee Hill right now -- flooded. But I know Spring will come soon!