Saturday, December 8, 2012

Find a location - Flyer


Here, I like to share the flyer that I prepared looking for a location in the Bay Area, preferably close to Mountain View and Palo Alto, CA.

Let’s Bee Friends 

I am a beginner beekeeper and looking for a place to put couple of hives.

Do you want:

  • Industrious workers to pollinate in your backyard or garden?
  • Your flower garden to bloom?
  • Your fruit trees to give you more fruits?
  • A new educational recreation for you and your family? 

Or:

  • Have a backyard and to help the nature?


Facts:

  • Honeybees are really docile and gently creatures. They’ll completely ignore you unless you disturb them.
  • Honeybees are the most important animals regulating the nature due to their pollinating behaviors.
  • 60% of the fruits and vegetables need honey bee pollination.
  • Without honeybees, modern agriculture would not exist.
  • Bees are in danger due to urbanization, pesticides and colony collapse disorder.

We can start this journey together. No promise, since I'm a newbie, but I will be willing to share some honey in case of a strong honey harvest.

Let’s Bee Friends.
Alper Mizrak

Contact: AlperMizrak[at]hotmail, www.BeesInCA.com



Friday, December 7, 2012

Find a location - Master's advise



Last weekend, I stopped by to say hi to my mentor, Richard Baxter. He invited me to see the new hives that he bought. He gave me a short lesson about some bee diseases and organic medications, as well.

I mentioned this Blog to him, and got his permission to mention him in my posts. (I do respect people's privacy and will be careful about not revealing any information about other people. However, if there is some information that is already available publicly on internet, I will use those links without any further precaution.)

Since I have been trying to find a location to place couple of hives for a while, I told him my efforts and asked his advice.

He sensed my stress and worry about finding a place. He said something like this:
- This is your hobby, so you should enjoy it. Don't get stressed out! Besides, once you let other people that you are looking for a place to put hives, you will get many requests from all sorts of people.



Here are the action items that he suggested.

  • Prepare a flyer to post on bulletin boards across community places.
  • Send an email to colleagues at work.
  • Send an email to close friends.



Finally, I think this conversation should take place in between these lines:

- Listen, grasshopper!
...
- Yes, Master.


By the way, this visit supposed to be a short visit including a hi and some advise; but we spend more than couple of hours talking about different things. It started by the screensaver on my laptop: various celestial objects and space. It turns out that Rick is also interested in particle physics, astronomy, bing bang, Higgs boson, gravity, matter-energy duality, and so-on... How cool is that!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Local Beekeepers Clubs


As of today, I am an official member of both these club:

The Santa Clara Bee Guild meets the first Monday of every month at the Dwell Christian Church, 1292 Minnesota Ave San Jose, CA 95125.

On Monday, I attended Santa Clara Bee Guild's year-end party. It was crowded, possibly more than 150 people. There was an open buffet. Fantastic home-made food, delicious :)



The Beekeepers' Guild of San Mateo County holds meetings the first Thursday of each month, at the Congregational Church of Belmont, 751 Alameda de las Pulgas, Belmont, CA.

On Thursday, I went to Beekeepers' Guild of San Mateo County's annual Holiday Party. It was also crowded, around 100 people. Food was as good as it can be :)




Friday, November 30, 2012

Where to put hives?


I do live in an apartment complex. There is no way to keep hives where I live. (To be honest, I thought keeping them in my balcony, but the balcony is right next to the stairways just in front of everybody's eyes :( Of course, I am not serious; it is illegal as stated in my lease contract.)

Then, I come up with this crazy idea: To keep them at work :) How convenient would it be?

I work at VMware Inc. and VMware is expanding its campus at Palo Alto acquiring a 1-million-square-foot property adjacent to the VMware headquarters

VMware supports green eco-friendly programs. We are proud that "Being green is a big part of VMware culture." What is more green than providing home for honey bees that are in danger? They are the single most important animal regulating the nature by pollination.

There is a turtle pond located in the heart of our main campus. There are handful of turtles, and during the summer, sun bathing is their favorite. And time to time I see two wild ducks accompanying them. What a relaxing break to eat lunch watching them!

Here are two pictures that I took in April 2012:


I remember once seeing a guy feeding them. I thought he would be the first contact person to mention this crazy idea. He is Jeff Goodall. Here, you can watch him putting turtles back home to their pond after winter hibernation in March 2009.

He got surprised to hear my idea, but did not dismiss it immediately. He shared his concerns, legal restrictions, allergies, and so on...

Here, I prepared a presentation addressing these concerns:


Then, I talked to LM, Director at Workspace division. She got impressed and encouraged me to write a business proposal for HR approval. Even, together with Jeff, we walked around the campus looking for a location.

Recently, I got the sad news from Jeff. He talked to some HR person and the answer is a clear NO due to safety, health and liability concerns.
I knew it was a long shot, indeed very long :) But, I just wanted try my chance and to see how far we can go. Without asking, we cannot be sure. By the way, I would like to thank Jeff and LindaMarie for their consideration, help and time. We did our collective best!  :)

Where can I put hives full of bees? Who wants them in their backyard? 

Looks like this is going to be the biggest challenge and I need to keep looking!..

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Find a mentor


I took an introductory beekeeping class from Professional Beekeeper Richard Baxter, sometime ago. And recently, I stopped by to ask him whether he would be a mentor for me. Good news, he accepted to help me graciously.

Here are the reasons for me to ask his help:

  • He is a Professional Beekeeper and the president of the Beekeepers Guild of San Mateo County.
  • He practices chemical-free natural beekeeping. This is what I would like to educate myself.
  • He is a really friendly guy and he loves to share his knowledge and passion.
  • He lives in San Mateo, which is pretty close to me, Mountain View and Palo Alto.


Few interesting comments about him:




Thanks, Richard. I will bug you a lot, soon...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Execution Plan; Action items for a beginner beekeeper


Here is the execution plan for myself as a beginner beekeeper:
  1. Idea: Beekeeping as a hobby.
  2. Execution Plan: Action items for a beginner beekeeper.
  3. Research & Education. (In progress.)
    1. Internet resources. (In progress. I will post another blog entry, soon, compiling all the resources I found.)
      1. Websites.
      2. Blogs.
      3. Forums: BeeSource.com and BeeMaster.com.
    2. Books: Books to readBooks to start with.
    3. Classes: First Step: Introductory Beekeeping Class.
    4. Local Beekeepers Clubs
      1. Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild
      2. Beekeepers' Guild Of San Mateo County
    5. Mentor: Richard Baxter, my mentor.
  4. Action Items.
    1. Find a location, for my hives. Check legal restrictions and immediate neighbors.
    2. Find insurance.
    3. Buy the equipments: hives, hive tool, smoker, bee jacket, veil, and gloves.
    4. Order bees around January to be delivered in April or catch a swarm.
    5. Practice...
  5. Goals.
    1. Primary: Practice chemical-free beekeeping and have my bees survive a winter.
    2. Secondary: Eat my own naturally-produced comb honey at a Saturday breakfast.


Joke: Ask a question


Say you are a beginner beekeeper and if you ask a question to a group of 5 master beekeepers, you will first hear "This is a simple question with an elementary answer", and then you will get at least 7 different answers.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Books to read


I did a lot of research and read book-reviews to decide which books to start with.

In general, I am interested in natural, organic and chemical-free beekeeping. Not sure though, but top bar hives would be great for producing all natural comb honey. Instead of starting very specific, I decided to learn general concepts and start with the common modern -Langstroth- hives.

Here is the first batch of my book order:

 



I have already finished Dadant's First Lessons in Beekeeping book, and I will write a detailed review later.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Books to start with: Beekeeping in California



Searching the internet, I have found free books published by University of California. These are the first books I have read on beekeeping. They provide basics and specifics to beekeeping in California.


Fundamentals of California Beekeeping is the earlier version published in 1971. Beekeeping in California is the newer version published in 1987.

It starts with the value and importance of the industry. Then it explains the colony, the life cycle of bees, constructing hives, managing and feeding bees. There are sections about bee diseases and disorders. It covers many other topics as well. It is a complete package in a nutshell.

Dr Eric C Mussen is the editor and reviser of the newer version. Dr. Mussen is a well-respected apiculturist from University of California, Davis. We will talk about him and Department of Entomology, UC Davis more later, as they are leaders in this area.

Copyright Notice: These publications are copyrighted by the Regents of the University of California. Download from Santa Clara Valley Beekeepers Guild - Books.

Friday, November 16, 2012

First Step: Introductory Beekeeping Class


Take a beekeeping class.

Sometime ago, I came across a Groupon Deal:
   Round Rock Honey – Redwood City
   Introductory Beekeeping Class

"During the beekeeping class, master beekeepers steep neophytes in the nectar-harvesting basics, including an introduction to bees and information on hive handling... Students ... will learn how to keep bees through changing seasons and safeguard their swarms from disease and parasites. Finally, participants get to don full beekeeper's garb (suits are provided) and gain hands-on experience..."

I did not think too much before I made the purchase. This is the chance for me to get familier with these bugs.

The class was taught by Professional Beekeeper Richard Baxter, Golden Harvest Beekeeping. He collects 100 percent natural local-wildflower honey from his hives in San Mateo County, CA. His wife Janet Baxter, BeezSoap, produces natural handcrafted soaps, candles, lip balms and lotions made with beeswax and - as she says - love.

Just before my Groupon Coupon expired, I made the reservation, and attended the class on a sunny Saturday, Oct 6th.






Thursday, November 15, 2012

BeesInCA kick off

Idea

I was checking my 401K account when I started to think what I might be doing when I retire. Yes, I am many many years away from retirement. But, hey, time flies. In case I reach to those days, I need some hobby to occupy myself mentally and physically.

Beekeeping is one of those options that I come up with. It requires to learn a lot. It is a science as well as an art. Perfect hobby!

That's how it started...

Goals

  1. Primary: Practice chemical-free beekeeping and have my bees survive a winter.
  2. Secondary: Eat my own naturally-produced comb honey at a Saturday breakfast.