New Friends and Partners

A  couple stopped by this summer to inquire about buying some honey and to ask if I might help them with a colony of bees they recently purchased. Wow, talk about fate, Josh and Sara Plack are wonderful old souls living in 20 something shells. Josh has a degree from Mizzou in Sustainable Agriculture and a great mind for utilizing the latest technologies in growing edible plants as well as a good headstart on grazing livestock for breeding and consumption. Sara has a natural talent for design and execution of Josh and her ideas as well being an established jewelry creator and dog groomer. They recently purchased a 17 acre farm not to far from me and have hit the ground running. They have the motivation, energy, knowledge, and location to make a successful business. We are currently kicking around ideas about joining forces!!! I am very excited. What a breath of fresh air and hopefully a lasting friendship and maybe a good business venture.. more to follow about this much needed pleasant suprise  

August Bee Peek

    Well, after some blistering heat during July the honey harvest looks pretty darn good!  With the help of Josh and Sarah Plack we pulled about 1/2 the supers during the first 2 weeks and I got the rest last Saturday. Looks like about 1050lbs with the TomKat Ranch Apiary leading, followed by Everett's Farm, Jack Youngblood and Joe Oberkramer Farms were combined (very close to one another), Sugar Shack did well as did the Double D Diamond Dairy Ranch. More to follow as it all dries out and I look for the subtle differences that allow the Single Apiary Bottling I am pioneering. The available honey is for sale at Starr's Wine Shop in Richmond Heights, Sha's Spices and More on Main Street in St. Charles,  The Happy Medium HairStyle Shop in Dogtown, The Butchery at Truffles in Ladue and  The Double D Diamond Dairy Ranch in Londell

March 23rd Bee Peak

Wow!!! What weird late winter early spring. Had a few more colony losses, but the survivors are blowing up. Some colonies are already heavier than fall, lots of brood and tons of pollen. Missed my opportunity to try oxalic acid for varroa mite control(to much brood). Going to use Apivar after my sugar shakes.

I have taken on mentoring for  2 couples learning beekeeping.  One of them Aimee Bilyeu has a macro lens on her kickass camera and has taken some amazing pics of the bees. Natalie has promised to post them on the site (hurry girl Daddie needs the help). I mention Aimee by name because she is an amazing photographer (RIGHT!) but also because she is the person behind www.co-opchicks.com and her products are crazy good!! She is using wax and honey exclusively from TomKat apiaries. Visit her and buy some stuff!

I have several nucs and pkgs of bees on order from the EMBA as well as my pollinator friends Alexa and Alex in Springfield and have again, committed myself to getting to break even in the beekeeping business. The honey is available at Starrs Wine Shop on Big Bend in Richmond Heights and Bolyards Butcher Shop on Sutton in Maplewood (Thanks Guys). Both are selling way more than expected. 

 

Bee Expectations

I will be doingApiary Specific Honey this year and hopefully adding an Apiary or 2 in the city very close to Forest Park. I will have colonies in Glan Tai Subdivision, Oberkamers Farm, Everetts Farm, TomKat HomeRanch, and the Sugarshack Yard, giving me a total of seven.

Proactive pest management, diverse and careful nuc and pkg selection,. aggressive splitting and diligent observation are my goals for this season. Come on Missouri weather do your part!!!

Spring livestock situation

Well it looks like the Kiko Goats are a bust for this winter. I traded my Kickass Buck Bluegrass for another registered 100% Kikoto introduce new genes, looks like he failed to knock up the girls. Very disappointing. I will be getting Bluegrass back.

Chickens are laying strong and I will likely be adding another dozen or so very soon, depending on demand.

Jon Hamn and Kevin Bacon my 2 Duroc Pigs are at about 125# and will become table food in late May. If this works well I will be adding Pork to the selection of goods available for sale.

Mook the incredible goat dog wants badly to breed, he is 3/4 Anatolian Shepard and 1/4 Great Pyrenee. Weighs in around 160 and makes great looking well behaved guardian pups.

Looking at a couple head of cattle to fatten up for late fall slaughter. I will most likely get some from Tom Rose (Organic Grass Fed longhorns) and feed them non gmo corn for 90 days to get the desired fat content. Sorry but gotta have my meat, and as long as I'm eating it, it has to be tender and well marbled!!

febuary bee peek

Not very much fun last weekend, more colony loss. Total of 6 lost between late fall absconding and freeze out during this rollercoaster winter. Some good news isI have about 20 frames of honey to spread around on pkgs and nucs. Attending nearly every speaking event available and really trying hard to stay proactive. Going to defoliate the ground around hive sites (weed wacker) and treat the dirt with gardstar to eliminate small hive beetle larva, also going to use oxalic acid applied directly to the frames (as opposed to vaporizing) for varroa mite control. These pests must be eradicated or at least aggressively managed. Listening to several keynote speakers and reading accredited articles have brought me to this aggressive proactive methodology. Really hope for an early long spring with a lot of blooms and no late hard freezes.  

   Weather conditions in the Midwest and more specifically here at the TomKat have been rainy, cool, stormy, hot, mild ,cold and foggy. But never-mind that was just yesterday!! Hopefully we are over the spring hump, the rains will slow down and the sun will heat things up and dry out the pastures. No one around here has been able to cut much hay or just brush-hog their fields without risk of bogging out your equipment (gettn' the tractor stuck)

   The produce situation on the TomKat for this spring is very slim. Most of the spinach was frosted and a lot of the cold weather veggies did not make it past the mid May freeze. We noted that the temperature up near the houe has been, on several different mornings, 3-5 degrees warmer than in the valley where our southern gardens are located . Elevation, wind, and fog play key factors in the difference. Much like some Vineyards. Two mornings in a row that difference was 34 degrees at the Barn and 39 at the house and enough to do a lot of damage. We considered smudge pots or a small bon-fire but ended up just watching the temp do its thing 

    The Tomato crop looks strong with several varieties of Heirlooms to offer beginning in mid July. The Herbs look good too although  we did not plant many. (Greenhouse not ready). The Blackberries look fantastic, as does the pear/apple tree.

  The Spring Honey, we think, is going to be tough for the same reasons as the produce, with the number of below 50 degree days in April and May far outnumbering the ones above 50. A lot of rainy, downright chilly days kept the girls from foraging early when there was plenty of bloom. Despite the weather several of the Colonies have shown significant population growth! Most likely due to a lot of supplemental feeding and being unable to do much other than make bees. We now as of June 6th have only 2 honey supers in place, both here at home. The Colonies at the Everett farm down the road are exceptionally strong and will get hone supers next week. The others scattered about are doing pretty well, just not well enough for those early supers that yield that superb spring honey.  

   Overall we should have 100-150lbs of Spring Honey. Small to medium amounts of beans, radishes, beets, and red lettuce. With good amounts of zuccini, cucumbers and peppers. all available in Mid July followed by tomatoes and blackberries.