Thursday, February 16, 2023

On The Air!

It was great fun to be on the air with Rick Vuyst and Stacey Hirvela. They have a relatively new show called, Gardening Simplified where they share their love of plants. Honey bees fit in quite naturally with a love of plants, so it makes sense to have a beekeeper as a guest. Fortunately for me, I was that beekeeper. Their program airs on WOOD Radio Saturday mornings from 9:00am-10:00am. Their YouTube version has a little bit more content than the radio version. Here is the link to the YouTube version.

After lighting the smoker, using pine needles and twigs, I put green grass on top. This gives a "cool" smoldering smoke used to confuse and calm the honey bees.
As beekeepers, we can tell a lot about a hive by simply looking up into a box from the bottom as it sits on its front side. This is a useful skill especially in cooler springtime inspections since pulling out frames might chill the bees.
I am removing the weight (brick) on top of this hive in preparation for a hive inspection, or replacing it after an inspection. After smoking the entrance to the hive, I puff a little smoke under the top cover, too, before I remove the lid altogether to perform an inspection of the frames.
This frame appears to be filled with honey. It looks dark; probably because the cells were first used for  brood (eggs, larvae, and developing bees) and then as the bees emerged the they filled those cells with honey. The darkness comes from the "cocoon skins" left by the emerged honey bees. That frame in my hands contains about four pounds of honey.
Here I am checking out a brood frame. I look for eggs (so I know the queen is present), healthy larvae, healthy capped brood (under which the bees are developing), and other indications of the general health of the hive.
Honey bees are so amazing. It is a privilege to care for them.
Hey, look who's NOT wearing a veil while he works with the bees! I often say that "I always wear at least a veil when I am working with honey bees." Well, this time I took off the veil for the photos so people could see the face of the beekeeper. I did take a sting to the face that day. Ouch!
Thanks for reading my blog and a special thanks to Kayla from Kayla Marie Videography for all these great pictures on this post. She took many more as well and you can see more of them on my website.




Friday, February 3, 2023

First Ice Fishing of the Season! Finally!

 On February 2, 2023 I finally went ice fishing for the first time of the season. What took me so long? We have had an unusually mild January. December got cold and it was snowy. So, the lakes froze over, but it was "snow ice" and unsafe. Then almost every day in January was above freezing temperatures, so the lakes opened up again. This last week has been cold. It is 10 degrees F as I type this. Our ice re-formed quickly. The lakes were ready to ice over and it only took about one week to become safe enough to fish.

On January 31 I drilled a hole in the ice at my local fast-freezing lake and it was two inches thick--not enough to safely fish, so I went home. Two days later it was 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches everywhere I fished. That is a nice thickness when it is fresh, hard ice. It makes me feel relatively safe, and it is easy to auger holes while searching for fish.

This is the auger I use. It is a five inch auger which I find a perfect size for pulling up bluegills and other panfish. I do wish I had a six inch auger for pike fishing, but this old auger of mine has served me well for many years. It is a Mora brand. Check out my YouTube video on how to auger a hole through the ice.


It was a super cold day and the wind was whipping besides, so my gloves did not stay off my hands for long. The goggles are nice for windy days and they keep the sun off my face a little bit. You can get quite a sunburn while ice fishing. Note the yellow life jacket under my jacket. Whenever the ice is "iffy" I wear a life jacket. Thanks to my son, whose reflection you can see in my goggles, for taking his gloves off on a very cold morning (on his day off work) to take pics of his dear old dad for dad's blog and YouTube channel.

This speck (speckled bass or crappie) almost pulled my rod into the lake. I had set down my rod onto the ice while I walked away for a short bit. When I came back, I noticed a fish pulling the rod tip towards the hole. I quickly picked up the rod, set the hook, and hauled in a decent crappie (pronounced "croppy" and not "crappy"--it's only crappy fishing when you're not catching any).

Two nice fillets going into the pail. Yum!

Waiting for the next fish to bite.

A couple of beautiful yellow perch. Their bellies are loaded with spawn. Perch may be the finest eating fish in the state of Michigan. Yes, walleyes are delicious, too, but I think perch are better. See the tiny bluegill on the ice at the bottom right side of the picture? I usually don't leave fish on the ice for long since they are calling cards to anyone looking to find fish. 

 It felt sooo good to stare at a sneaky bobber over a hole in the ice again. It has been a long time without any ice fishing. We usually start ice fishing by at least the middle of January and usually earlier. I often say that all I want for Christmas is safe ice on the area lakes so I can go ice fishing.

Nothing to brag about here, but it is a meal and that was my goal for the day. Plus, we walked off the ice dry. That is always a good thing when ice fishing.

Thanks for reading my blog. It sounds like the weather will be warming above freezing again soon, so I think this may be a very short ice fishing season. I hoped we would get a month of fishing, but now I think it will be just about five or six days. This has been the latest start ever for me in over 50 years of ice fishing. My 89 year old father said he can not remember this late of a start in his lifetime either. We will enjoy it while we have it. Sigh. Oh well, I guess I can tap the sugar maple trees soon by the sounds of the forecast.

What A Time!

It has been a busy time of programs and presentations for us. We have done more shows this year than ever before in the history of our busin...