tel jetson

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since May 17, 2007
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zone 7? 8?: woodland, washington and portland, oregon. grower, builder, beekeeper, engineer.
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woodland, washington
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Recent posts by tel jetson

I think you’re right to be skeptical of the $3 offset. I’ve seen a number of articles over the last few years exploring the shortcomings of many offset programs. as I understand it, most involve either planting trees or protecting existing forests. those are both great ideas, but the devil’s in the details and the accounting can be very difficult. throw in some knock on effects and some programs clearly have a net negative impact.

I didn’t repeat your calculations to confirm, but at a glance they seem like they’re at least in the right ballpark. you could try to estimate some kind of multiplier that includes potential additional carbon fixation or sequestration as a result of your biochar production, but that would get real squishy real quick. best to be conservative I would think. and do consider that your method of producing the biochar likely also releases some carbon. you may have included that, but it isn’t immediately obvious to me if you did.
1 year ago
diesel electric, like a railroad locomotive.
1 year ago
move a few miles north to Woodland. real estate prices have, sadly, succumbed to the madness expanding outward from Portland, but all that may change soon. there's still some ag and undeveloped land within a couple miles of town. we could use more folks like you around here, too. help bring more reason and less the-way-we've-always-done-it to this place. can't say there's a lot of immediate gratification involved in trying to meaningfully change a place like this, but it has its rewards. when you miss Portland, there's a bus to a Vancouver park and ride with several connections across the river. there are also a couple routes to Portland that are still enjoyable in parts on a bike.

actually, find a place within Woodland city limits and run for city government. it'll be a hoot.
1 year ago
I very rarely super, but that would be my first inclination if a hive was at risk of honey binding.
2 years ago
I recommend looking for Tom Seeley's bait hive recommendations. I don't have the document to hand, but it's been posted here at least a few times previously.

some main ideas: ~25 liters volume, contain previously occupied comb and/or wax moth debris, placed at least one meter above the ground.
2 years ago

Jay Angler wrote:Many humans think they deserve "new experiences" and "holidays". If they can also consider the petroleum foot-print of that, and choose biking as a way to accomplish it, I think it can be a positive. However, compared to walking, it takes better infrastructure and more embodied energy.

I'm not sure that bit about bike vs ped infrastructure is so cut and dry. gravel on a bike is more pleasant than on foot, for example, at least to me. like your pa, I do a fair amount of bike camping, and that's mostly on gravel and dirt roads that nobody walks on. in more developed areas, bikes can easily share space with cars so long as that space isn't optimized for speed above all else. on the other hand, I can walk across much more rugged terrain than I can bike across. traveling in a wheel chair also complicates the picture.

Jay Angler wrote:2. I think it's possible to "make people want to bike or walk" by using intelligent design.

doesn't even have to be that intelligent in my experience. any town or city built before automobiles came onto the scene is likely a much more pleasant place to bike or walk than to drive, assuming it hasn't been entirely renovated to accommodate cars. even rural areas with sparse population are really pleasant for walking and bicycling in places where small vehicles and narrow roads are the norm. a nice bonus is that small vehicles and narrow roads consume far fewer resources than their larger versions.

the really pernicious part of all this is how it has come to perpetuate itself. following WWII, the US went all in on orienting the entire built environment around personal cars. several generations past that, very few people in the US outside a handful of metropolitan areas can even imagine what a life that doesn't rely heavily on daily driving would look like. suggestions to shift even marginally toward more sane means of transportation feel very threatening to a lot of people in the same way that anyone whose way of life is questioned feels threatened. so instead of places where it's plausible to walk or bike in addition to driving (leave alone where driving is actively discouraged), almost everywhere in the US gets even more automobile-oriented places.

into this scenario comes the promise of electric cars. we don't have to dramatically reshape our built environment for them or significantly change anyone's habits, because they're still cars. only without any of the negative impacts, right? well, I don't know about that. as I understand it, the main negative impact that electric vehicles reduce so far is carbon pollution. the extra weight of the batteries means that local ground level air pollution is worse than that from a modern petroleum powered car. maybe more significantly, infrastructure built for electric cars isn't any less antagonistic to those outside of a vehicle than infrastructure built for petroleum cars.

cars are an incredibly useful and beneficial tool if their use is tightly restricted. ultimately, how they're powered seems like a red herring to me. more important is that they be treated as a last resort instead of as the default.

paul wheaton wrote:And if you are doing bike/ped in the city, without a garden, then you still have a pretty beefy petroleum footprint.

I have not yet looked into it critically, but I've heard that if a person's nutrition is supplied via industrial food supply chains, one's petroleum "footprint" will generally increase if they walk or bike for transportation. the reduction from not hopping in the car to get across town is erased by needing to eat more petroleum-heavy food to make up for the additional metabolic cost. I think that's probably an oversimplification because of the knock-on effects of automobile use, but it does illuminate just what a quagmire we've created for ourselves.

Kaarina Kreus wrote:I've been told to check eggs, drones and possible queen cells, pollen, honey weekly

well... that's one way to do things. get used to irritable bees if that's the route you choose. the hive atmosphere plays a large role in honey bees' communication as well as their immune and reproductive systems. without a lot of precautions, opening a typical frame hive dramatically disturbs that atmosphere. scholarly estimates I've seen for recovery from that disturbance are on the order of one week. so if you're opening the hive every week, the bees may never reach the steady state they would ideally have to thrive.

now, obviously there are a great many beekeepers doing just what you've been told to who achieve success as they define it, so that's certainly a viable approach with a track record.

as an alternative, though, I suggest observing entrance behavior. a lot of what goes on inside the hive can be discerned by observing what happens at the entrance. there's obviously some more learning and patience involved because you don't see what's in the hive directly, but I and many others have found it rewarding. my experience also suggests that bees prefer it. and you don't have to go to the trouble of putting on a veil or lighting a smoker.

the tricky part, if you haven't already realized, is that to get a more precise correlation between entrance behavior and what's going on inside the hive, you would have to both observe the entrance and open the hive. that's certainly also an option as a middle path, and a reasonable one for a short initial period. observe behavior before you open the hive. and realize that you may already be associated with disturbance and your presence alone may change their behavior.

after you've got some confidence in your bees, you can then only open the hive when you notice a change in behavior at the entrance that leads you to believe something needs your intervention.

just a couple options to add to what you've already been taught. it's fine to adhere to what a mentor or beekeepers association is telling you is the one true way while you get your feet wet, but know that there is no one true way. it's really a choose-your-own-adventure situation. there's a hive and style of beekeeping to suit almost any persuasion. if, after spending a lot of money and time following instructions, you find you don't particularly like the methods you're being taught, don't despair. just try another way.
2 years ago

Joshua Frank wrote:Do you have any tips on swarm catching? There are a million of them online and it's hard to know which are most reliable.

have a look at this bulletin: Bait hives for honey bees.

and the plastic keg hives: I think it's an interesting reuse of a disposable product. those bottles aren't available anywhere close to me, so whether to use them for beehives isn't a decision I have to make.
2 years ago
a couple of points:

first, describing the quilt as moisture permeable isn't quite right. it's more of a moisture buffer. vapor can move either direction between the quilt and the hive, but there's no way for meaningful amounts of moisture to move between the quilt and the ambient air. the roof that goes on top effectively seals the quilt off from the outside air.

second, the top of a tree cavity will wick away quite a bit of moisture. if you've ever finished the end grain of a woodworking project with oil or paint or really anything, you'll understand what I'm talking about here. the ceiling of a hive that's in a tree cavity is also end grain. its capillarity will suck moisture right up.

whether or not condensation is a big problem in a hive is an open question as far as I'm concerned. I've read studies suggesting that winter bees drink the condensation that results from their metabolism to supplement what's in the honey as they aren't able to venture out for water in the cold. I've also seen moldy comb at the top of a hive. probably a lot depends on the particular climate the hive is in.
2 years ago
sounds like you did a nice job. a couple of recommendations:

don't use honey as bait. you'll get robbers that way, not house hunters. if it's just a little bit, it might be alright because it'll be robbed quickly. dry comb is good, though. so is wax moth frass.

the bees will chew through the sheet between the quilt and the top box if you don't do something to stop them. I've always used rye paste for this, and it seems to work pretty well.
2 years ago