Ernie Schmidt

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since Jan 19, 2013
Interested in alternative and main stream methods of beekeeping using Langstroth, Top Bar, Warre, and custom style, (experimental)  hives.  Not afraid to question the "establishment" of beekeeping.  Focus mainly on production of regional genetics in my bees.  Currently working on Washington State Master Beekeeper certification.          
Olympia, Washington
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Recent posts by Ernie Schmidt

Having a hammock in the shade that over looks all the hard work you have do- if you don't have time to lay in it and enjoy the view, you're doing something wrong.

Changing the world is easy- the hard part is realizing you can.
3 years ago
The reason one would construct a steep sided water retaining pond is to prevent loss of water due to evaporation.  Especially run off ponds that don't have a consistent source of water such as a stream or spring.  Large gentle sloped shallow bodies of water/ponds dry up very quickly during drought conditions.  Steep sided ponds with the least water surface exposed to the air hold water longer.  When I had my run off pond built years ago, the dozer operator understood that principle and I ended up with a long pond about 8 feet deep in the middle that had steep sides and sloped at either end.  Much like the one in the pictures.  It really ended up being the best of both worlds holding water and having a sloped shore line.  It does lose several feet of water during the summer, but fills quickly and stays filled during the rainy weather.          
4 years ago
Not to worry Ken,
   It's BEES! my friend. When we get together to talk about bees, we seldom need more of a topic then that.
I do have to agree with both of your points.  Using old hive bodies swarm boxes do get a bit heavy to be running up and down a ladder with and more swarms have come my way over the phone.  I go and get them with one of my "time" swarm boxes.  I have had swarms setting up housekeeping in a swarm box in my apiary while I was building a hive for them.  
Over the years I have discovered there is no such thing as too many hives.  If I start worrying about how many I have, I wait until next spring to make any decisions. Any extra hives in the spring are in huge demand.    

Ernie Schmidt  
 
4 years ago
Kevin,
I too had a similar problem with not being able to check my swarm boxes consistently and regularly.  What I needed was "time".  If a swarm moved into the box, it was okay for it to set in the tree for days, sometimes nearly a week trying to get to the weekend before I could check on it. I knew that the bees weren't going to wait to start setting up housekeeping in the box.  I built swarm boxes that were pretty much miniature versions of the hive style the bees would eventually be in when I brought them home.  Be it Warre, Top Bar or Langstroth swarm boxes, they have bars or frames in the box and the swarms start building on the frames and bars that I will transfer into the permanent hive.  What is great about these swarm boxes is that I can bring them home and set them right on the hive stand where their permanent hive will be and allow them to orientate from the swarm box for a few days before transferring the bars or frames into their hive.  I too have a busy schedule and in the past I have had swarm boxes setting on a hive stand in my apiary for a week or two before I could get the bees transferred into their hive and having that "time" is really a blessing- for the bees and me.

Ernie                  
4 years ago
I consider myself a follower of permaculture- maybe it's more like I wander around behind it.  I think this whole thing is being way over thought.  Everything in life doesn't have to be strictly labeled and adhered to.  I run a 5 acre farm, been here for over 30 years, started by following the Mother Earth News movement.  Do I consider myself a Permie? Sometimes I am, sometimes I'm not.  Use some permaculture, but not all the time. I am almost entirely natural.  After over 30 years of my life style the one major focus I have developed here on the farm is a sense of peace and balance.  Many of the folks that have visited over the years have sensed it, so that is what I call it now- The "It" feeling, you either get it of you don't.  It took a life time of sometimes brutally hard work, but I never feel as alive as when I collapse into bed after a day of work on the farm.  It is the hardest work I have even loved.  I describe what I do here as- "Hard work with manure on it" However, as a follower of Gene Logsdon, (goggle him) I totally agree with something he said many years ago- The most important tool you should have on your farm is a hammock and the most important thing you should do is use at times to admire your work.  If you don't have the time, you are doing something wrong.  I can only close by saying this life style isn't for everyone and-  If you don't get "It" it's not for you.                  
4 years ago
Ann, I have to ditto your observations. I don't want to sound obsessive about this owl house subject, but there are simply very few people that even remotely find attracting owls as fascinating as I do. I thought the "multiple choice" nesting box thing was just me increasing my odds that they would choose one. Nature can be fickle at times . I don't think I have had any more then one pair species of owls on the place in the houses at one time. To be honest, I find a whole lot about interacting with nature at this level fascinating. I built my first bird houses as a small child and now as I am just past the 60 year old mark, I still build them, bat houses, bee hives, I even had a contractor come on the place years ago and excavate a run off pond. I realized how important a permanent source of water was for wildlife. Having seen the wildlife around that area before it was dug and now. There is clearly a whole eco system that revolves around that pond that would not exist without it.
4 years ago
Mike,
This is an excellent example of what I was trying to explain with "working with nature"

Marsha Richardson wrote: We have habitat in the form of rock piles, brush piles, houses (owls), etc. This has made a gigantic difference in vole populations and a major increase in predators at least in our little corner of the world.


Marsha,
Thank you for sharing your similar successful experiences and methods.
4 years ago
Mike,
I have been lucky enough to have lived on my little farm here for over 35 years and spent most of it learning to live in balance with the wildlife on and around the farm. Over the years there were always fluctuations of wild creatures that would affect the balance on the farm. We have learned to live in harmony with the raise and fall of the populations of deer, hawks, eagles, coyotes, raccoons, opossums, even herons that would enjoy our frogs and fish being raised in the pond. The most important thing I learned all those years is that many times working on a balance that didn't require killing them will usually take time. We can live with peacefully nature if we understand how it works. What I would suggest for your situation is to invite wild quests that find your voles delicious, but not any of the domestic creatures you may have like chickens or ducks. Probably the easiest way to invite them is to provide reasonable habitant and especially a place to raise a family. Not only is that pretty neat for you to watch, but they will need to eat more of your voles to feed the "kids". Here is a link for building and using a Barn owl house, one of several possible solutions I would try if I had a vole population problem. As I said it might take time- for the owls to find the house, start a family- it is possible for a pair to find your house very quickly but I would give it a couple of years to see if it worked.
http://modernfarmer.com/2014/05/build-barn-owl-nest/
There are also small hawks that will use man made houses, a bit of search on the internet will provide tons of help in that area. The secret to this kind of solution is not to attract birds of prey or any other wildlife that might find whatever your domestic "fare" is- attractive also.
4 years ago
Isaac,
The one thing I can think of in my experience with Bat houses, (I am only talking about Little Brown Bats that used my houses). The bats seemed pretty skittish about the houses they would decide to establish themselves into. The beekeeping activity under them on the bee hut floor might reverberate through the posts into the houses. Any banging, thumping, or shaking going on in the bee hut, would (in my limited experience) disturb them enough to keep them from using the houses. I say give bat houses a try for sure, just put them up on separate posts, but then that would kinda defeat the saving material idea.
4 years ago
As I have put my bees "to bed" and we are entering winter I am already thinking about this Spring. Every year I collect my apiary's swarm and regularly chase calls. I have recently retired and now will have considerable more time to spend with my bees,(if my wife lets me )
I usually grabbed what I thought I would need and go, but this Spring I would like to get a bit more serious about the specific tools and equipment I would need to answer just about any normal swarm call. My vision is that I would put it all in the back of my pickup, go and come back with the swarm in one trip. In the past because of my specific lack of planning, organizing, and the small time frame to work with getting out to the swarm- I have actually made several trips for one swarm collection more then once. So I would like to start a list of equipment and share everything I can think of to bring on a swarm run. Please suggest more things I might add that might come in handy for collecting swarms-
Card board box, Nuc, deep box with frames, 5 gallon pail and lid
Ladder,(telescoping and step)
Rope, bee suit, smoker, pruning shears and loppers,(large pruning shears), large cloth sheet, bee vacuum, telescoping pole with attachments,(saw, pruning shear, 5 gallon pail)
I have even seen one of those 5 gallon water jugs with the bottom cut off mounted on a pole by the neck opening.
If this subject has already been posted, please help me find it on the forum. If it has been discussed earlier it's easier to continue the original post then start a whole new one.
Another thing I could use some help on is finding out over the phone that it is really an actual honeybee swarm and not a hornet or wasp nest when the swarm call comes in. I think we have all got those calls that the caller swears up and down it's honeybees and when we get out there it's a wasp or hornet nest.
4 years ago