It’s Summers Time!

Chickens, Talking To Children and More –

So, the chicken mystery from last month – 19, 21, 20 – got even more interesting. The daughter of our neighbor claimed the extra chicken and took it home. When her mother took a look she said “Wait a minute, we don’t have any chickens like that.” And then the chicken actually turned out to be a rooster. It’s an Americana and with that breed the roosters don’t have big combs, so sometimes it’s hard to tell. Well he went away because he was just upsetting everyone. Then another rooster of the same kind showed up in her bunch. He went away too. I didn’t ask where they went. But it would seem there is another bunch of chickens in the neighborhood that are routinely escaping. No new chicks this year or ducks. We’ll wait until next Spring. I think I have a good source for the little Call Ducks, so I’ll get organized and be ready for babies in the Spring.

Our 20 are doing fine though. We do have a broody chicken right now. I’ve had this before and it’s a strange event. A chicken will just decide that she wants to hatch an egg and she’ll sit in the nesting box and not come out. Now our eggs aren’t fertile, so she’s going to be sitting there awhile. So the way I deal with it is to scoop her out of the box, while she’s growling at me – yes chickens do growl – and shove her out the door to the outdoors with everyone else. It takes usually about a week for them to get out of that routine. She was right back in the box this morning, so today when I go home I’ll shove her out the door again. Then it’s the weekend and I’ll actually really annoy her by continuing to boot her out. Interestingly, she never pecks me, just growls at me.

I spent about an hour with a 4-H group this week. I used to do more of these talks to kids, but haven’t in awhile just because of schedules. But I enjoy it. This was a favor for a friend and there was a wide age range which makes it more of a challenge. The kids always ask the obvious questions – How often to do you get stung? How many bees are in that box? And one kid usually has a grandfather or an uncle that is a beekeeper. Will any of them grow up to be beekeepers because of something I said. Well, you never know. That’s why we keep doing what we do.

It’s almost the middle of June as I write this and we still don’t have our garden in yet. It has been wet, wet, wet here. We have all the plants and Kim has resorted to putting a bunch of them in pots around the deck. So that may be our garden this year.

We had a pretty amazing Black Locust bloom here in Northeast Ohio. We had to put more boxes on all of our hives. Right now our bees are doing well. Beekeepers are pretty lucky here in Ohio. We have at least three very distinct honey flows. Kim calls them Holiday Honey Flows. Normally right around Memorial Day the Black Locust are kicking, 4th of July is Linden(Basswood) and Labor Day is Goldenrod. I know some areas have one honey flow and that’s it. So we count our blessings here.

Bee Culture and many of us beekeepers lost a good friend in May. Bill Mondjack passed away after a not so long battle with cancer. We’ve known Bill for a long time. I’m sure I first met him while working with EAS. He was an EAS Master Beekeeper and a great promoter of that program. He and Kim would have some ‘friendly’ discussions about the Master Beekeeper Program. Bill worked for the Post Office for many years and served in Vietnam.

If you’ve been to very many bee meetings you may have run into Bill. He seemed to show up in lots of places. He lived in PA and would often make the trip to the big Tri-County meeting in Wooster, Ohio. So we got to see Bill pretty often. You couldn’t miss him with that amazing long gray hair and equally impressive beard.

Bill had just recently started writing a column for our new publication – BEEKeeping, Your First Three Years. And, over the years we featured several Bee Culture covers with photos that Bill submitted. He was quite the photographer.

Kim and I have backed off of so much travel this year, hoping to get lots of things done around home and just not being on the road so much is nice for awhile. But we do have local things going on.

Bee Culture’s Pollinator Day is July 21, right here in Medina at the A.I. Root Company. Our pollinator gardens are continuing to increase and improve. We have several groups that have plots they are managing. If you’re passing through the area be sure and stop. And if you let us know in advance we might even be able to set up a tour of the candle factory with Kim as your guide.

And don’t forget about October – our annual event. This will be our fifth, I think. We have John Miller, Ray Olivarez, Brett Adee and Mike Palmer coming in for two days in October to talk about how they got where they are today. Take a look on page 14 for all the details. We already have a good number of people signed up.

Hope to see you there. And I hope you’re having a good Summer so far. Enjoy, it goes by so fast!