I have kept honey bees in and around St. John’s, Newfoundland, since 2010 and I use this mighty blog to document all of my successes and failures. I try to keep everything simple and practical. I’m not a certified master beekeeper yet but I’ve done my homework, enough to satisfy my unambitious approach to beekeeping and to keep myself in honey all year round. I hope that by being honest about my mistakes while documenting what actually seems to work, others might learn as well from me as they would from more experienced beekeepers. Mud Songs is written and illustrated with photos and videos intended for hobbyist or backyard beekeepers like myself, not commercial beekeepers who often require a more systematic approach to beekeeping.
I got interested in honey bees after reading about people keeping bees on their roofs in Chicago. Then I began to follow some beekeepers out of California whose methods were perhaps a bit too natural and ill-advised for my cold climate. That led to more realistic and practical online lessons from David Burns, which led to several more months of online research, and finally on July 18th, 2010, the bees arrived. I harvested my first batch of honey in September 2011, and it was delicious.
As of October 2018, I have seven Langstroth honey bee hives next to my house in a rural-like location outside St. John’s (though I’ve had as many as ten). I kept bees in the city in my small backyard for a couple years but decided to move them to the country to keep the peace with some unpleasant neighbours. I made my fair share of mistakes in the beginning, and as a mentorless beekeeper I continue to make some doozies, but I feel pretty good about where I am now.
I should also mention that I stand against the importation of honey bees onto the island of Newfoundland. People willing to import potentially diseased bees seem to care more about making a quick profit than they do about maintaining the health of Newfoundland honey bees. Newfoundland is one of the few places on the planet where honey bees have never been exposed to varroa mites nor many of the diseases that are destroying honey bees all over the world. Importing honey bees is such a boneheaded idea, I’m dismayed at the people who do it. See my comments from May 2016 for more details.
Mud Songs used to be a gardening blog, but it’s strictly a beekeeping blog now. (All of the old gardening posts are gone.) The name “Mud Songs” didn’t make a whole lot of sense even as a gardening blog and makes even less sense now as a beekeeping blog. That’s just the way I like it.
UPDATE (March 2017): Mud Songs is closed until further noticed. I had to shut it down, along with most of my beekeeping activities, because of a concussion injury.
All text, images, videos and other original content © by Phillip Cairns (me), unless otherwise noted.
Postscript: In spirit, I want to make some modifications to Mud Songs. It reality, it may take a long time, perhaps forever. But here’s the tentative plan: First, I want to replace all the photos from 2010 to 2015 that were posted through Picasa and Flickr because I’ve seen several of those photos used by Google and Yahoo (who own those services) to promote junk that I would not endorse. Second, I want to edit many of the early posts where I was cocky enough to give advice like I knew what I was talking about — advice not based on experience. That was just stupid. I’m slowly fixing those posts too.