Apiary expansion up-date

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swarming beesdual colonyThis past weekend the hive in the backyard here in-town swarmed.  They settled nearby and I was able to collect them and safely transport them to Medicine Hill to install them above a Queen-less hive. With an established colony I didn’t want to chance the workers taking exception to the introduction of a new Queen, and I’ve had good luck using a screened board between 2 different colonies–usually during nuc production to protect a weak nuc–so I situated the swarm above the colony for a period of acclimation.

I was ecstatic, colonies established from a swarm are often the most productive ones.

With the focus this year on getting a house built at the new farm-site, expanding the Runamuk apiary has been a struggle.  I thought about not increasing our hive numbers at all–but who am I really kidding?  I may not reach the goal of 18 that I had set for this year, but even an increase by 1 or 2 is an increase just the same.

As a bootstrap farmer I’m always looking for ways to stretch the budget.  Sometimes this means doing more with less money.  Sometimes it means doing without the frivolities.  And sometimes it means looking to alternative methods.

runamuk hive

The beginning of the apiary at Runamuk Acres.

I’m fortunate to have a whole host of supporters who want to see Runamuk succeed, from my family and friends, to members of the community, and even people online whom I have never met whose kind words of encouragement compel me to continue along my difficult road.

I’ve managed to expand my apiary this year from 6 hives to 12–yay!  I’m so elated, so proud and happy–it’s really ridiculous.  This year’s expansion wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of one Ernie Hilton of the nearby Hyl-Tun Farm, local lawyer, natural resources advocate, and more.  Ernie is a long time friend of the Burns family, he did the deed-work on the transfer of our parcel of land from Keith’s parents name to ours, and he has been a dedicated supporter of my efforts to revitalize the Burns farm with the establishment of Runamuk there.

new apiary

The apiary at Hyl-Tun Farm.

Ernie and Gwen Hilton have allowed me to set up an apiary at the Hilton farm (which is called Hyl-Tun Farm–check them out online here) through a joint effort, in which the Hiltons provided the hive set-up for 3 hives, and I supplied the bees.  I brought another hive over to make an even 4 hives at that site.  From here on out I will be managing the hives in exchange for the lion’s share of the honey.  I’m sure there will be enough to supply the Hiltons with all the honey they desire, while still contributing to Runamuk’s entrepreneurial efforts.

Earlier in the year I had met with Ann Dorney, local doctor and county representative, about leading a beekeeping project at the Somerset County Correctional Facility.  I had been working closely with Ann and her assistant to organize the program, and even met with a representative at the jail to discuss the details.  However programs like that are difficult to establish, and with bee-season upon us, it has been placed on temporary hiatus.  Ann had already invested in equipment for 10 hives for the program, as well as 10 nucleus colonies, and she was kind enough to allow me to buy 3 hives and 5 nucs from her with the understanding that I would repay her in installments as I can afford to.

the apiary at medicine hill

Runamuk’s apiary at Medicine Hill.

Let’s not forget Linda Whitmore-Smithers at Medicine Hill, who has been hosting 4 of the Runamuk hives on her organic farm for the last year or so.  Linda’s voice of experience has been a blessing to this new farmer, and I am thrilled to have her as an ally in this the under-taking of a lifetime.  When I have questions or concerns about farming, she is the one that I turn to.  Like the pioneering women of days gone by, Linda is tough as nails, knowledgeable and wise, determined and steadfast.  The Runamuk bees are thriving in her pastures, a veritable smorgasbord of nectar and pollen sources–a beekeeper couldn’t ask for more.

It is because of supporters like Ernie, Ann, and Linda, that beginning farmers and small business owners like myself are able to succeed, and I for one am utterly grateful.

Share your thoughts, comments or questions!