Category Archives: Articles

Porcupine on the farm

problems with porcupine on the homestead

We have a bit of a problem on our farm. A porcupine problem–to be specific. With an overabundant population they’re devastating the trees of our forest and repeatedly coming into contact with our dogs. But what can you do about porcupine problems on your homestead or farm? Disclaimer: This post contains images that may be too graphic for some readers,… Read more »

Climate change & Maine bees at MSBA

unloading the tractor at runamuk

Former president of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association and retired state of Maine acquatic biologist, Matt Scott gave a presentation at this year’s annual conference entitled: “Climate Change and Habitat Fragmentation to Honey Bees in Maine”. Scott acknowledged that climate change is something of a controversial topic, but admits that at his age he is less constrained by society’s rules…. Read more »

Winterizing the farm — with free printable checklist

winterizing the farm

Cold weather is once again on our doorstep. Farmers and homesteaders alike are racing to finish their winter preparations before the first snowflakes fly. We have gardens to put to bed, livestock to prepare and equipment to get ready for the long season ahead of us. If you’re new to farming or homesteading, the list of chores for winterization can… Read more »

Looking in the beehive with Dr. Dewey Caron

dr. dewey caron at msba

Well it’s been 2 weeks today since I went to the annual meeting of the Maine State Beekeepers’. It’s taken me that long to get all of the different bits and pieces, lectures and presentations written about in full detail. For the last 3 years I’ve provided the written coverage of the day for the MSBA’s bi-monthly publication “The Bee-Line”,… Read more »

Preparing your beehives for winter

Samantha Burns   August 29, 2014   Comments Off on Preparing your beehives for winter
Runamuk Winter Apiary_2014_FI

As the rush of spring and early summer wanes, the beekeepers’ attention turns toward the up-coming cold months.  Getting your honeybee colonies through the winter–especially one such as those we experience here in Maine–is perhaps the second most challenging thing a beekeeper will face (the first being coping with varroa mites).  Wintering beehives is very largely dependent on your location,… Read more »

Spring hive management

Spring Beekeeping

Hooray for spring!  Let beekeepers everywhere rejoice!  The sun is shining, and the trees are beginning to bud, it’s warming up and the bees are flying again! How did your bees fare during the long cold winter?  With diligence, and perhaps a little bit of luck–your hives came through the winter, and if you’re anything like me–the long winter months… Read more »

Promoting native pollinators on your farm

Native Bees on Farms

For farmers and homesteaders, it just makes sense to promote the myriad of busy buzzing insects about your farm.  By promoting native bees you’re effectively promoting the overall health of the  ecosystem that you are responsible for as a farmer–since bees are a keystone species and their health and well-being directly impacts plants and animals all the way up the… Read more »

Why support native bees on your farm?

farming for native bees

Until recently, native and feral bee populations met all of a farmers’ pollination needs.  Farms were smaller, and closer to natural areas where native bee populations could easily recolonize a farm should an insecticide application kill resident bees. But with the advent of the industrial farm, habitat for pollinators has been drastically reduced–today, many of our agricultural landscapes are vast… Read more »

Who are the native pollinators?

who pollinates

Because I love bees and because the act of pollination fascinates me so–it saddens me to think that all too often this crucial event and the animals that make it happen–are overlooked.  It really is amazing to think about how the actions of one animal can affect an entire ecosystem. While honeybees are the most commonly used pollinator in domestic… Read more »

Companion planting made easy

plant companions in the garden

It was my father in-law who first introduced me to the concept of companion planting, as we discussed gardening, and he sagely shared the secret of planting marigolds with tomatoes in order to repel nematodes.  I remember wondering what other plants could be grown among my crops to aid in the health of the garden, and then I wondered why… Read more »

6 tips for handling bees

how to handle your beehive

When I got started with beekeeping, I had spent a year prior to bringing my bees home, just researching and doing my homework.  My dear sister-in-law, who had watched over a hive in her youth, was by my side, and we were so brave and confident in our abilities to tame the stinging bees with our sweet song and beauty,… Read more »

How To Set Up Your First Beehive

how to set up your 1st beehive

Imagine you’re sitting at a four-way intersection, a red stop light hanging above you, while the hum of buzzing comes from a pair of rectangular wooden boxes strapped into the passenger’s seat next to you. The Nuc boxes–or nucleus colonies–contain more than 10,000 bees each.  Bees cling to, and crawl across the wire mesh stapled over the openings that prevents… Read more »

Challenges new farmers face

overcoming the challenges of establishing a new farm

“Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you.”  –Denis Waitley. Farmers are a ruggedly determined lot.  The farmers whom I know personally, are full of vim and vigor, and while obstacles may sometimes get them down on occasion, typically these challenges do not hold them back for long. Even so, farming… Read more »

Establishing a new farm: Where to start & how to prioritize

establishing a new farm

These days nothing is more enticing than the concept of living a life sustained by the land and nature.  Folks from all walks are turning away from the mainstream and it’s commercialized lifestyle.  For some it is a mission to provide a healthy atmosphere for raising their family; for others a desire to live more lightly upon the Earth–to protect… Read more »

Garden planning for beginners

garden planning for beginners

An expression of art and science, gardening is a practice that dates back to the start of civilization, and is both creative and economical.  With the ever-increasing trend towards green and sustainable living, gardening is enjoying a resurgence–if you’ve been considering taking up the habit, I hope this is your year!  If you’ve been toying with the idea of gardening… Read more »

Winter beekeeping: Checking your hives

Checking hives in winter_FI

What’s a beekeeper to do during the winter?  Those–like me–who hold such passion and adoration for their honeybees–for whom there is no better feeling in all the world than watching these busy girls coming and going, carrying pollen and nectar to the hive; for whom opening the hive, viewing the larvae-grubs in their cells, or finding the Queen amidst her… Read more »

Baking to stretch the food budget

baking to stretch the food budget

Now that we’re all settled in at the new Runamuk homestead, I’ve finally been able to unpack my kitchen and cook-wares and get back to my regular baking routines.  With a new mortgage, maintaining our budget is more imperative than ever before, so I spend time each month to plan out meals ahead of time, then on Sundays I make… Read more »

Establishing a new farm: tools & investments

first farm investments

This is part 2 in our Establishing a New Farm blog-series.  Click here to see part 1: Where to Start & How to Prioritize. When I first started keeping bees I didn’t have many of the tools that I have now.  Hell–I didn’t even have a veil!  Looking back on it now–I really have no idea why I thought I… Read more »

Innovation, resourcefulness & creativity in farming

Mulch at Snakeroot_FI

This is part 3 in our “Establishing a New Farm” series, you can view part 1 here, and part 2 by clicking here. Have you ever met a wealthy farmer?  Ever seen a farmer driving a flashy new sports car?  or any brand new vehicle for that matter?  Not likely.  People do not become farmers to get rich. Most farmers… Read more »

DIY broths from kitchen scraps

finished diy vegetable broth

I’m one of those people who really loves soups and stews.  A good soup simmering on the stove makes a house feel like home, it offers comfort during stressful times, and it warms you through and through when it’s bitterly cold outside.  In addition to all that–soups offer lots of health benefits since they’re typically made with fresh, low-fat ingredients,… Read more »

Living seasonally and reconnecting with nature

winter seasonal intentions collage

Now that we’re settling into the new homestead, back on our farm-property, I’m ready to reconnect with nature and the natural world that I love so much. I’m looking at nature-inspired homeschool activities to do with the boys, taking walks in the snow–shoveling….  So when the chance to review Kathy Lepvic’s eBook “Homespun Seasonal Living Workbook” presented itself–I leaped at… Read more »

7 foods you can easily grow indoors this winter

kitchen windowsill herb garden

Now that the balmy days of summer are behind us, and the time to tuck in for the long cold of winter has come–I like to play around with growing different foods inside my house.  The gardening season may be over, but providing fresh and nutritious foods for family meals is a never-ending task, and though I am not yet… Read more »

Kirk Webster at MSBA

kirk webster at msba

I’d never heard of Kirk Webster until earlier this summer when I was talking shop with a friend, who is also a beekeeper.  He happened to bring up the notion of ordering some of Kirk’s Queens for the purpose of installing hygienic genes into his colonies to help in the fight against varroa–which made perfect sense to me.  Of course… Read more »

Honey pricing & marketing management at MSBA

deborah delaney at msba

At the Maine State Beekeepers’ annual convention, Deborah Delaney took the floor for a second time that day to present a talk that was entitled: “Honey Pricing & Marketing Risk Management Education for Honey Producers”. Deborah told the crowd about yet another aspect of her research which involves scientifically identifying how to improve marketing of locally produced honey, which would… Read more »