I've had chickens several times over the years. The picture above is from a small setup I had when I lived in Round Rock in the '80's. It worked quite well for the time and place. I love those Rhode Island Reds! The new ones will be a mixed bunch, and we're happy to be getting them.
We're also getting a hive of bees. Now, personally, I like bees. However, I'm a bit spooked by them. I seem to be a bit allergic to their stings. Over the years I've been stung several times, and each time has been worse. I'm not sure how much risk it will be to be stung again. However, we want bees here at EarthSong Retreat, and so this is a good thing. Cat Dancing has wanted bees also for some time, and she feels that she connects with these already. In a couple of weeks we'll be getting the hive. We've both been studying up on the art of beekeeping. I'm looking at the structural aspects of housing, etc. Cat has enlisted Michael to actually help with the hands-on bee working.
Both of us feel that adding bees will contribute to fighting the decrease in bee populations all over, as well as greatly aid in pollination of the various plant life here at EarthSong. We've also seen that bees are in serious difficulties in this area already from the drought and heat.
We've already delved into our first controversy concerning bees. Some of my Permaculturist friends introduced me to "Top Bar" hives as being very simple to build, natural, and beginner friendly. The "Langstroth Hive", however, is more common and more used commercially. Both designs have assets and drawbacks. The clincher, however, is that the season is late, and a Langstroth is what the bees are already established in. We've been looking at various designs to build our own, and we will see about trying different types as we divide the hive or add more bees later. I'll keep you posted.
On a related note, Cat has been looking at the "space suits" for working with bees. She is considering just going with the head veil and gloves, knowing that many keepers work their bees with no extra covering at all. Not to be outdone, I've been looking at bee suits as well. I'm considering this model:
On the other hand, perhaps she would appreciate me getting her another assistant:
Nothing is too good for my darling beekeeper!
To be honest, I showed her this suit, and she pointed out that it might not fit me. Sigh.
In other news, we are having our first work day for volunteers here at EarthSong in association with our partners at Vajra Azaya. I've designed a series of wicking bed garden beds to be hooked into our proposed gray-water system. We'll be building those this Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. My back has been a bit out of whack, so I may be the geezer in the chair pointing others where to dig!
I'll end this with a lovely logo my friend Larry Santoyo has on his t-shirts.