A Guide to Beekeeping in Newfoundland

Here’s a list of informal articles posted to the mighty Mud Songs blog that might be helpful for anyone on the island of Newfoundland (or in a similar climate) interested in starting up a few honey bee colonies for the pleasure of it. While some of these posts could be updated with better information, I’m confident most of the information is reliable. Strategies for maximizing production and profit will not be found here. These are some things that have worked for me as a hobbyist beekeeper since 2010. That’s all.

Check out my Practical Tips and Stuff That’s Good To Know for other how-to items that I may have forgotten to add to this page. Also, photos for many of the older articles were deleted during a technical glitch a while back and I haven’t had time to search for and re-upload all the original photos. I’m not sure you could pay enough to do that anyway. But I’ll try to fix them as soon as I can.

Beekeeping Books For Beginners — I got into what might be called my beekeeping studies about year before I bought my first hive. I found most of my learning resources online through websites like Honey Bee Suite, Michael Bush, Bee Culture, Beesource and especially David Burns. YouTube videos were extremely helpful as well. A tonne of good (and bad) beekeeping books are also available. In this post I talk about all the ones that happened to have been useful for me.

Beekeeping Start-Up Costs in Newfoundland (as of 2016) — A list of everything most new beekeepers in Newfoundland might need to get through their first year of beekeeping. These days, most beekeepers in Newfoundland are better off getting all their stuff from G & M Family Farm. Online beekeeping lessons from David Burns aren’t a bad idea either.
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Concussion

I’ve been recovering from a concussion since December 2016. I don’t want to get into the details. However, I expect I’ll write a thorough blog or a book or an article about it sometime after I recover. All I can say for now is that I’ve been lucky to find a specialist who is helping me and things are slowly getting better.

In the meantime, I’m stepping away from Mud Songs and pretty much everything else I do online. I will be keeping a low profile. Locally, it means I won’t be involved in any beekeeping groups, workshops, conferences, beeyard visits — nothing. I wish everyone the best, but I need to take a break. I hope you understand.

Before my concussion, I had been approached to produce a series of instructional videos for new beekeepers. I had hoped as well to set up some hives on crown land and put on some pay-what-you-can beekeeping workshops. I had also planned to begin work on a beekeeping book geared towards hobbyist beekeepers in cold climates like Newfoundland. I had plans for many things, but my concussion injury has put everything on hold. While I’m fairly confident that I will make a full recovery, once it’s finally over, I expect I’ll be due for a vacation — a big one. I’m not sure when or if I’ll return to blogging, but if I do, anyone who subscribes to Mud Songs will be the first to know.

It’s been a pleasure to share my beekeeping experiences with all of you.

Take care,

Phillip
March 17th, 2017


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Beekeeping on Twitter

AUGUST 22, 2017

I still post photos and video clips from my little beeyard on Twitter:


And all my older and mostly-instructional beekeeping videos are still on my YouTube channel. I may occasionally post something on my Facebook page too, but generally I’m still taking things slowly and I don’t know when or if I’ll return to doing anything online like I used to. Cheers.

Map of my Beeyard

I drew up a map of my beeyard yesterday and wrote a summary for each of my hives to include in my beekeeping journal. I normally don’t post this kind of thing, but it may be of interest (probably not) for anyone curious about how a hobbyist beekeeper with a few too many hives keeps records. I’ve been meaning to keep more accurate and more concise records since I started beekeeping in 2010. Maybe next year.

I currently have nine honey bee colonies in my beeyard, up from more or less two at the beginning of the year. (I had four back in March but only two of them got through the spring in okay shape.) I use a simple numbering system to take track of my queens (not my hives): The first two digits represent the year. The last two digits represent the queen. For example: the first queen of this year is 1601, the second queen is 1602 and so on. In my journal I also use some letters to indicate how the queen was created: through supersedure queen cell, swarm cell, mated queen from another beeyard, etc., but I won’t bother with that here. See my recent Beeyard Update for more details and a video.

Click the image to see this baby in all its full screen glory.

Click the image to see this baby in all its full screen glory.


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Beeyard Update – August 2016

Here’s an uncut 15-minute video update of where I am with my beekeeping as of today. Not much to see. Mostly just me talking and pointing at things.

A summary for anyone who can’t be bothered: I now have nine honey bee colonies living in Langstroth hives and two nucs with old queens puttering away in the corner. I spent this summer building up my colonies after all but two of them were more or less destroyed by shrews two winters ago. It wasn’t easy. My beekeeping has been a long arduous journey since my third summer of beekeeping when I was forced to move my hives because of unfriendly neighbours, which eventually led me to sell my house in the city so I could buy another house in a semi-rural neighbourhood last year, where I now have a small but private piece of land where I hope to keep my bees in peace for years to come.

P.S.: For anyone who watched the video, yup, there’s a typo at the end of it (mudsongs.orgs when it should be mudsongs.org with no S on the end), but it’s too much trouble fix it.

I Sold My Soul To The Devil

Mud Songs is not only a non-profit web site. It’s a going-in-the-hole web site. I’ve spent a fair bit of money over the years to keep it online. Let’s forget about the hundreds of hours of unpaid work I’ve put into writing and making videos and taking photos to create content for it. I do this for fun, not money. But now I need money to keep it going. Not a lot of money, but enough so that I can afford a better server, one that isn’t as slow as slush like my current server is half the time. I may even need money from time to time to pay people to do some computery things behind the scenes for me, people who know how to keep the engine humming, so to speak. Shelling out that cash from my own pocket just doesn’t cut it anymore. I’m a poor working slob with a full-time job that’s not about to make me rich any time soon. And I’m not to going ask for money. Putting ads on this blog doesn’t make much sense either. I don’t think anyone reads the actual blog anymore. But splashing a few ads through my YouTube videos could bring in a few dollars. Maybe.

So as of today, most of the beekeeping videos that appear on the Mud Songs YouTube channel will contain advertisements of some kind. I’m testing the waters here to see how it goes. If you see an ad that you don’t like, or you just don’t like the ads at all, tell me and I’ll do something about it. I have no problem turning the ads off completely if they’re annoying.

I’m personally annoyed by most advertisements online, but I rarely see them because I use an ad blocker. That’s why I’m not so concerned about putting ads in my videos. People who don’t like ads probably use an ad blocker already, so it won’t be an issue for them. And I assume people who don’t use ad blockers see the ads as just a part of doing business online. They’re used to it.

I’ve also had a few people tell me advertisements are already running along with my videos in subtle ways through YouTube’s main website. Which means Google (the owner of YouTube) is making money off my videos and I’m not. I don’t see anything wrong with me wanting a piece of that pie. Why not? They’re my videos after all.

Anyway, I sold my soul to Google so I can afford a better server and make some improvements to Mud Songs. I might not make a dime off the video advertisements. If that’s the case, I’ll have to think of something else. But for now, let me know if you have any problems with them. Thanks.

JANUARY 28, 2016: Hold on to your hats because this is amazing. I’ve earned $39.53 from my YouTube videos since November 2015. Clap. Clap. Clap.

RELEASE THE HENS!

I’m beginning to like chickens more than honey bees, purely for the comic relief. There’s nothing my chickens do that isn’t completely ridiculous. I can’t take anything they do seriously. Three of them climbed up the high front steps of my house today because they felt compelled to guard the house, maybe?

guardchickens

The way they walk, the way they run, the way they sound — it’s the definition of ludicrous. The enjoyment I get from just being around these farcical creatures exceeds the pleasure I get from beekeeping. To be honest, beekeeping has been more work than pleasure for the past three years. The simple satisfaction of being with the bees has been overshadowed by a long string of headaches I’ve had to endure, starting with moving my hives in May 2012 so my neighbours wouldn’t complain to the city about them. Now that I’ve finally found a country-like setting where I can keep my bees in peace, I hope I can relax around the bees again and perhaps recapture the wonder of beekeeping like I used to know. And if it doesn’t work out, at least I’ll have the chickens.

The End

I’ve decided to pull the plug on Mud Songs instead of letting it fizzle out and die. Here’s why: When I first began beekeeping in 2010, I kept my hives in my urban backyard and was engaged in a daily fascination with the bees because they were constantly present. I saw the bees every single day, even in the winter, and loved every minute of it. I was glad to share my experiences so others might learn from my stumbles and bumps and little successes along the way. In the summer of 2012, though, I had to move the hives to a rural location because my next door neighbour complained to the city about the bees buzzing around her yard too much. Pretty much overnight, the fuel that fired most of my interest in beekeeping — the constant presence of the bees — was gone. My time with the bees dropped from several hours a day to maybe a few hours a month and none of that time involved the leisurely observations — watching the bees all day — that I was accustomed to when the bees were in my backyard. So that’s it. Even though it’s more work than pleasure these days, I’ll continue to keep bees. But until I have them on my own property again and can reconnect with the fascination I experience from being around them all the time, I don’t see the point in maintaining this web site. The driving force behind most of what I’ve done with Mud Songs is gone. The bees are gone. Not completely gone, but gone enough. With any luck, though, I’ll be back in business within a year or two, chilling with the bees in a different backyard like I used to. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Take care.

— Phillip

January 17th, 2014
St. John’s, Newfoundland

567 Days of Beekeeping

Here are four and a half minutes of photos from our first 567 days of beekeeping. It’s not a “best of” collection, but it’s the best I could put together in 20 minutes (there are more photos of bees than beekeeping per se). It should look half-decent played back in full screen at the highest resolution. Recommended only for purists. There’s no music, but I originally had some Geoffrey Oryema on the soundtrack and it was good. You’ve probably never heard of Geoffrey Oryema, but he tends to make quiet night music with lots of echo. Or maybe Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass is more your thing. Whatever floats your boat.