EPISODE 005: THE BEESNEES – BEEKEEPING 101

Want to hear a couple of guys talking about beekeeping while drinking whiskey? Well, then you have come to the right place my friend!

DRINK INFORMATION

Tom’s Drink – Highland Park 12-year Single Malt Scotch

Link to Highland Park 12 year old single malt

Ian’s Drink – FUYU whiskey… that he got from a liquor store in the middle of nowhere ūüôā

Link To FUYU whiskey from Japan

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Tom Kubiak 
Ian, great to talk to you this evening. How you doing?

Ian Robertson 
Hey, not bad. You?

Tom Kubiak 
Good. Good. Thanks for joining me on Drinking with Tom.

Ian Robertson 
Yeah, well, that’s what we do.

Tom Kubiak 
That’s what we do.

Ian Robertson 
That’s exactly.. I got I got a joke for you though.

Tom Kubiak 
Okay, is it a bad dad joke or?

Ian Robertson 
Oh yeah, sure. Okay. What? What do you call a wasp?

Tom Kubiak 
What do I call a wasp?

Ian Robertson 
A wanna-B. So that goes with our bee theme today because we’re gonna be talking about bee keeping.

Tom Kubiak 
That does go with our bees. Beekeeping. First off, how’s your week been?

Ian Robertson 
Oh, it’s not bad. I actually in anticipation for some of our episodes here. I went out searching for all sorts of different alcohols that were interesting, unique. And or going along with my theme lowbrow. You’re

Tom Kubiak 
You’re speaking my language right now.

Ian Robertson 
Yep, yep. So I got some stuff. So I’m feeling pretty good about that. How about you? What are you drinking?

Tom Kubiak 
Tonight? I’m drinking¬†Highland Park 12¬†and I got a funny story about that. You saw me as I was open and it’s sitting on the table behind me and it’s a bottle I’ve had on my shelf for a little while. I think somebody gave it to me or something in Highland Park is a is a nice. They’re actually award winning scotch. You know, a lot of people like them. They’re easy to drink, not peated at all, like, you know, is not my not my style. So it’s Highland Park 12. I also have 18 And there’s a couple of other different bottlings that I have, but, but I wanted to crack this one open. So I pull off the foil, I go to open it in the cork is all dry and rotted. I’m like, Ah, and so of course, I got a piece of cork that dropped down into the bottle, and I’m not too happy about that.

Ian Robertson 
And it’s a big piece like it’s enough you can’t fish it out.

Tom Kubiak 
No, it’s not coming out. It’s, it’s there. So I’m gonna either have to decant it or I’m gonna have to sit there and look at it for the next 10 years while I drink this bottle.

Ian Robertson 
Get a decanter.

Tom Kubiak 
It’s probably what I’m gonna do.

Ian Robertson 
Yeah, cuz otherwise it’ll bother your OCD. Yeah, but what what kind so it’s a scotch?

Tom Kubiak 
It’s a scotch. Yeah, hi, it’s a highland. So Highland is the area of Scotland. So Highland Park is the name of the distillery. It’s the type of Scotch that I like caramel vanilla. Easy to drink. And it’s not cask strength. The past couple that I’ve had on our on our podcast had been cask strength, which are a little bit higher alcohol. This one’s just a normal, probably around 80 proof.

Ian Robertson 
And I’m glad you stopped and paused to smell your drink there for a while because I’ve often said that aroma is the best media for a sound platform. Like a podcast. Yeah. Everybody can you smell it?

Tom Kubiak 
Even better. Look at the color on that scotch. Isn’t it beautiful?

Ian Robertson 
Yeah, exactly.

Tom Kubiak 
To all our podcast listeners.

Ian Robertson 
Enjoy the smells and sights of our podcast.

Tom Kubiak 
What are you drinking, tell me.

Ian Robertson 
So I, we’re going to be talking about beekeeping. So it occurred to me later on that I should have gotten some like..

Tom Kubiak 
Evan Williams honey.

Ian Robertson 
Yeah, exactly. That would have been decent. Or, you know, they make I don’t know if you call it a brandy or what but when you when you make honey wine..

Tom Kubiak 
Like a mead? Stronger than a mead?

Ian Robertson 
Stronger than a mead. Mead has like about the about the alcohol level of a beer depending on the mead. Okay, a honey wine is a little bit stronger. And then they distill it as a very distinct flavor. I should have gotten some of that. But I actually did find something I was out in the middle of nowhere. And I stopped at a liquor store that was attached to a sanitation company’s building.

Tom Kubiak 
The best kind.

Ian Robertson 
So you know..

Tom Kubiak 
You know it’s gonna be good.

Ian Robertson 
You know, it’s gonna be good. The little side door around the side of the building. And you know, sanitation company is right there. And then here’s the liquor shop. So I walk in. I think the guy had been sampling a little bit of different things. You know, he must be a connoisseur, he knows. All right. So I walk in. I don’t know if I thought I was like in France or some fancy shop in the city. But I go, do you have anything interesting or otherwise delightful? Or however I phrased it?

Tom Kubiak 
Probably the only person who’s ever asked him that.

Ian Robertson 
The guy looks at me..

Tom Kubiak 
Do you have something out of the ordinary?

Ian Robertson 
Yeah, exactly. I made this batch over the sanitation side. But interestingly enough, he brings me over to his shelf and he has all these Japanese whiskies.

Tom Kubiak 
Oh, really a good selection?

Ian Robertson 
Yeah. Well, two, okay.

Tom Kubiak 
Okay.

Ian Robertson 
You like the build up there to be letdown.. All these. So the other one I had seen, I forget..Yeah, that’s probably what it was. But I’d never seen this one. It’s called¬†Fuyu.

Tom Kubiak  
All these. Fuyu, okay.

Ian Robertson  
Fuyu. It sounds bad when you spell it too, but it’s not.

Tom Kubiak  
It’s not Daymond, whatever his name, Daymond John’s company FUBU.

Ian Robertson  
FUBU.. but um, so I’m standing here in the sanitation company liquor store. And he’s just like, oh, this is good. Like, it’s only $35 You know, and I go lowbrow. And he’s like, Yeah, but $35 for 750 milliliter. So you know, it’s gonna be good. And I can’t make this stuff up. I’m like, this is the best conversation I’ve ever had. And on the back it says this, this is really good for mixing drinks.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Normally, you don’t want to advertise that.¬†

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, exactly. It’s kind of like saying, She’s not what you call a traditionally good looking lady, more of a handsome woman. So, I’m like, Well, I’m in too deep now. So I bought it. And I’m actually pleasantly surprised. So the Japanese they just know what they’re doing. Something about. Remember that bottle I bought with the 24 size..¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, 17.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, I don’t know why that popped in my head. But the 24 size for the 24 seasons. And I always wanted to buy another bottle.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, Yeah. Japanese whiskey actually wins awards. You can’t call it scotch. But no, you know, and, and the other one is to is Indian Indian whiskey, actually ages faster than Scottish aged whiskey because of the heat and in the environment and that it’s aging. So..

Ian Robertson  
So we’re going to we’re going to do the do another podcast on how alcohol is made.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, yeah, I remember you saying we want to do that. 

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, yeah. So there’s actually a good reason for all of that. But anyways, we don’t want to get too too far.

Tom Kubiak  
Tell me your taste profile for the Fuyu.

Ian Robertson  
it’s feet of an old man’s bathwater. No, it’s actually not bad. You know what it kind of tastes like, if if you took a bullet bourbon and kind of watered it down. It’s almost kind of like a lot of corn flavor to it. Bourbon, but it doesn’t you can really, they wanted it to taste like a like a cheaper scotch. But I think it tastes more like a mid range scotch. Oh, this is what I would call a Thursday night whiskey for me. Okay, like, if if I go by this sanitation company again, I’d actually stop and get another bottle of this just to have on hand.

Tom Kubiak  
Interesting. 

Ian Robertson  
Because you know, I don’t need to drink my best stuff on a Thursday night or something like that. It’s, you know, Saturday night camping..This is a decent whiskey, Fuyu.

Tom Kubiak  
All right. I’m gonna have to look it up. I’ve never heard of it. I have I mean, Japanese whiskey is relatively popular. Like I was saying, but I’ve never heard of that brand. So I’ll I’ll take a look for it.

Ian Robertson  
Well, you know, if you probably don’t frequent a lot of garbage companies.

Tom Kubiak  
No, I try to stay away from the garbage company liquor stores, but you never know.

Ian Robertson  
I tell you what, the party scene there is great, but the girls are trashy. Get it?

Tom Kubiak  
I got it. Yes. You’re supposed to save the dad joke to the end of the podcast.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. See, I’m rolling them into early.

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, boy. So anyway, our topic today is beekeeping. It’s an interesting topic. Anyone who knows us knows that. That we are both hobby beekeepers. And we’ve been, How long have you been doing it?

Ian Robertson  
Aww man. Almost since I’ve moved into my new house, probably a year after I moved in. Probably going on five, six years or so. Yeah. Which is longer than I actually thought it was. And now that I’m thinking about it.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah. And I think you and I started like right around the same time within within a year of each other or something like that.

Ian Robertson  
You were before me you had like seven hives when I was getting my first.

Tom Kubiak  
That’s because I’m crazy. But yeah, So tell me when you we should probably talk about what’s the process for.. Well, first off, what made you want to start beekeeping? Why was it that you dove into it? Because your wife is allergic to bees? So you know, that’s a risk..

Ian Robertson  
Yeah I’m willing to take that risk.

Tom Kubiak  
How many times have you brought her out to the beehive? 

Ian Robertson  
Never, I love my wife. So, beekeeping is just like the coolest hobby ever. Because, you know we make maple syrup too. And it’s just like we go out and we we suck the blood out of this tree and we boil it and you make it into something you want to consume. The honey is kind of like that same feeling like I gathered my minions put them in a white box in my backyard and told them make me honey that I will consume and they make it and then you don’t they don’t give it to you. You go and you force it out of them.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
You steal it from them.

Ian Robertson  
You steal it from them. There’s just something very primal and just, it’s just awesome. And then it’s like, you’re sitting around the table and you’re eatin like honey mustard with your friends and they’re like, Oh, this is really good. And you’re like, that came from my backyard. Not the mustard, the honey. Yeah, you know, give people some it’s just a really, really cool hobby.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, it is. Yeah. And I’m kind of similar, you know, when I had wanted to do to start beekeeping for a long time, and I had read articles about it and watched videos and, and I was excited about the process, but I was kind of nervous to do it. And so then I said, You know what, I’m just going to do it. I’m going to try try it and then and I, well, I guess we should, we should say there’s, there’s some different ways you can start. And obviously, you need to have the equipment, that’s the first thing. So most people when they think of beekeeping they think of the the person in the in the white jacket with a veil over their head of mesh and and you know, big leather gloves and, and the thing that makes smoke and that’s the most traditional beekeeping outfit and really the goal of that is to stop the bees from getting to you, you know, getting to you and stinging you because when you’re in there stealing their honey, they don’t like it. But really actually experienced beekeepers oftentimes don’t wear any of that like they they manage the hive with their bare hands and the in some of them don’t even put a veil on others put a veil on only just to stop the bees from stinging their face. They go bare armed or in some cases, bare shirt, like they don’t even wear a shirt.¬†

Ian Robertson  
That’s just weird.

Tom Kubiak  
It’s totally weird. But if you if you look up like beekeeping really experienced beekeepers on on YouTube, they they oftentimes do it with very little protective equipment at all. And I’m not at that point, I still want to be fully, you know, fully protected. I do wear instead of the heavy leather gloves, sometimes I’ll just wear a pair of disposable plastic gloves, or, you know, the rubber gloves. But how about you? Are you still 100% in a suit?

Ian Robertson  
So most of the time, I find that..Well, first of all, let me say this, we live in the Northeast, and we’re actually at the top line according to Cornell University of where bees naturally survive in the wild. So he said, I took a course with Cornell University, and they said in our area, we’re gonna have a high death rate. So depending on where you are beekeeping down in North Carolina is gonna be way different than beekeeping in upstate New York, you know, or Seattle or I don’t know, can you have bees in Seattle? Anyway, so don’t get upset by that you’re gonna kill some bees, it’s going to happen. But a lot of it depends on your your bees. They all have a temperament. The first hive I got. I thought I was the best most natural beekeeper in the world. I had these two hives and they were Italian bees. And they were just the nicest bees. So much so that the first summer that I had them I did without even thinking I was out there in flip flops.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, I remember you telling me that. 

Ian Robertson  
And no suit on. Yeah. And I was taking I was taking the super off which is the top smaller box where you take honey out of for those that don’t know. And I was fine. Yeah, I’m like pulling out frames look in there calling on me and no bother. Yeah. Then one of my hives died. And I got a new hive. Same thing Italian bees. They were nasty. Yeah, I couldn’t even go. So I have a long yard. So it’s pretty far away from my house. If you’re gonna have bees keep them away from your house. We joke but don’t like to die. So they’re pretty far away. But I couldn’t even go into the backyard without them coming out. Yeah. Eventually that hive died too, eventually next year or something like that. I wasn’t sad about them. My current hive just, they’re nice. I still ever since that second hive, I still get suited up. But the other day I went out there with no suit on and I took off a viewport I have a viewport on there. Oh yeah. Cuz you have a Flow Hive. Yeah, we could talk about that. We’ll talk about that afterwards. Any beekeepers listening right now just their heart dropped. I’m like I’m sorry. I just wanted to try it.

Tom Kubiak  
You’re not a real beekeeper.

Ian Robertson  
It seemed cool. One guy that I know. He calls it “bee having” if you have a Flow Hive, instead of beekeeping. Flow Hive is where you just stick a key in you turn it in the honey starts to come out. There’s a whole bunch of mechanical things that happen. But then honey comes out. You just walk away with your honey. Instead of having to pull things out and look yeah, get get your hands dirty. But yeah, I still stay suited up but it really depends on your B and B’s and your level of comfortableness with the whole situation.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, I’m, I’m good. Like I’m, I have seven hives. So you know, my my hive, my yard is active. So when I’m checking them without opening them up, I have no problem. I can stand in front of the hive. I can, you know get my face right up next to the entrance hole because I’m watching the bees coming in and out with pollen and just to see how much activity they have, I have no problem with that. And bees are, they will typically in this in my experience and from what I’ve read, they’ll warn you before they start really becoming aggressive. So they’ll start bumping off your head. And if they if they do that, then you know, hey, I’m a little close, I’m making them a little nervous, and I’ll back off and you know, it’s fine. I’ve only really been aggressively stung once. So I was working on some hives a couple years ago, it was a super hot day. And I got, you know, into a, what they call a hot hive, which is where the hive has a lot of bees in it. And it’s just aggressive. It’s just the the temperament is aggressive. And they, you know, got out and I’m in a suit. So I’m not, even though it is, even though you know, you’re protected, it’s a little unnerving when you have a swarm of bees around you, so you really slow down and think and say, Okay, I know, they can’t get to me, I know I’m okay. But the more the more bees that come out, the worse it gets. And I think I was probably moving a little too fast. That’s another thing that beekeepers will say is, you know, make slow deliberate movements. Don’t know, don’t try to irritate them more, keep them, you know, smoked, so that, you know, you don’t have to, you know, smoke them completely, but just enough to calm them down a little bit and make sure that they’re not aggressively, you know, sending out attack pheromones. But what ended up happening with me is I got stung on my ankle. And what happens is, if the hive is hot, and it’s active, and you get one sting, you’re probably going to get others. And that’s what happened to me and I ended up getting like 60 stings on my ankles. And that was painful.

Ian Robertson  
Wait, 16 or 60? 

Tom Kubiak  
60. Yes. Yeah, it got to the point where, you know, my hive, the hive was open, and I was getting stung so much, I had to go back to my into my building there because they’re on the side of my office and the bees followed me back to the office, I got inside I got, you know, killed the bees that had gotten on me. I went back out and they went right back at me again, got me a few more times, I went back and I had to end up putting garbage bags over my legs. Because, you know, once they put that pheromone on you, they know where to go like they’re going to attack wherever that pheromone is. And I just kept getting stung every time I would go out near anywhere near the hive. So it just to get the hive closed back up again. I had to put like garbage bags over my feet to stop them from getting to me.

Ian Robertson  
So now anybody listening who was thinking about getting into beekeeping, a list of other hobbies that you could possibly get into, we mentioned maple syrup. I don’t know.

Tom Kubiak  
Reading books. Yeah, that’s a very safe hobby.

Ian Robertson  
You know what’s funny, though, in all the years I’ve been doing this, I have not been stung once.

Tom Kubiak  
Really, not even one time? 

Ian Robertson  
Not.. and I don’t know how it happens because I’m pretty irresponsible. I’m going to be honest. You know, when I thought I was gonna get stung. So I had a hive and it was full, but I wanted to put so if you have hives, it takes a measure of maintenance. So if you’re thinking about getting into beekeeping, you’re going to have to do the scary stuff, or you’re going to have no honey or dead hives. And you have to take care of things.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
You do, you have to pay attention to them. It is not a hands off hobby.

Ian Robertson  
Nope, it’s not a lot of work. Like I go out there once a month for maybe a half an hour, check on things, treat, and do things as needed. It’s not a little overly labor intensive unless you have a lot of hives. But you have to do it. Yeah, it just has to happen. And maybe that’s not as much as other beekeepers. They may some guys recommend going out once a week. I’m checking on them once every other week. And once a month I go and do a big check. Yeah, but the one time I thought I was gonna get stung is after I take my last bit of honey, I treat for mites before the winter right. And I and I do it right around the end of October beginning of November just before it gets too cold. And I don’t want them to be strained in the cold weather and the chemical strain them. So I opened it up I’ve never seen this many bees in my life.

Tom Kubiak  
Oh wow you were going into winter with a lot of bees.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. Surprisingly, they made it I didn’t know how they made it. I think that winter I left them with two super.. Yeah.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah.

Ian Robertson  
And we can talk about that in a minute. But when I opened it up, they were on me head to toe. The noise of them buzzing is so loud that there was trucks driving by off in the distance and I think somebody was yelling for me back. I couldn’t hear it. Yeah. And it was like a horror movie.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, isn’t it unnerving? But yeah, it’s yeah.

Ian Robertson  
Like when you told me you’re gonna reach a point where you have to stop and tell yourself, okay, like I had to, it was like being claustrophobic but not, I had to stop. And with all these bees around me just breathe. And I said, just breathe, I’m okay and had to keep doing that, because that was weird and you get used to it. But the first time it’s like..

Tom Kubiak  
It is really unnerving. I have had the same experience but but so let’s talk about what we do to start. So you know, obviously one of the first things you want to do if you’re getting into beekeeping is spend some time on YouTube, because there are some really good beekeepers on YouTube who put up content regularly, there’s a there’s a really good one that I follow David Burns, he has some great videos he posts every couple of days with informational. He’s a he’s a certified master beekeeper. There are also some courses that you can take that that give you the basics of beekeeping but But what you’re going to do is decide where you want to keep your bees and then you have to basically buy the equipment that’s necessary in order to be able to have the bees and and what that comes down to is a hive stand. And then the out the the setup that you want to have beekeeping. And so as Ian mentioned, he’s using a one type of Hive, most people use what’s called a Langstroth hive, which is either eight or 10 frames in a box of wood. And that box keeps the frames separated by a specific amount of space. And that space is what this doctor Langstroth decided, or determined as the research was the perfect the optimal space for bees making their hexagonal frames, their comb. And if that the space is larger than that space, they build comb in all kinds of crazy ways. But if they keep the space in that optimal distance, they build the perfect honey storage frames.

Ian Robertson  
So I didn’t know that’s why they call them the Langstroth hives. But yeah, if anybody’s starting, this is what I would recommend, get the Langstroth hive get two base boxes. So the base boxes, the brood boxes, as they call them are going to be a little bit bigger, I recommend the 10 frame.

Tom Kubiak  
I agree.

Ian Robertson  
Eight frame makes it slightly lighter to lift things up. But you’re almost never going to lift them up. You’re not going to lift them up a whole lot. Get the 10 frame, it gives you more room for brood more room for them to keep honey, especially if in your cold in a colder climate get the 10 frame, you can get right off of Amazon. So my first hive and actually my best hive, I got right off Amazon. So I went on there and I said I typed in Langstroth hive, and they gave me everything they gave me two brood boxes, a queen excluder on the top of the two boxes, so that keeps the queen from laying eggs or food in the box above. So that’s why you keep gooey baby bees out of your honey correct. So put that on the top of the two boxes and then you put your super on top of there. If it’s a new hive, you’re only going to do one super, if it’s a little bit more established, and you could put another super on top. And then the lid I do not recommend the styrofoam lids the one I got is a wood lid with a metal covering. That was the best decision I ever made in my life never blows off never goes anywhere. And it just comes with instructions. Yeah, you’re gonna want to paint it. Order it like two, three months ahead of time before you’re actually going to set it up because the bees don’t like the smell of the paint. So they don’t like paint. They don’t like stain. So you need to stain the outside of it. Paint it with exterior paint, whatever, just to protect it from the elements. Then let it sit outside and kind of air out for like like a month or two. Yeah. And then set it up. And then there you go. You have your hive.

Tom Kubiak  
You don’t paint the inside, right you leave the inside bare.¬†

Ian Robertson  
No, inside is bare.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, correct. 

Ian Robertson  
They have they have that weird stuff that they seal holes up.

Tom Kubiak  
Propolis.

Ian Robertson  
Propolis they use the propolis to..

Tom Kubiak  
The sticky stuff.

Ian Robertson  
Seal the seams. Yeah. So then you’re going to need equipment. So I I went out and bought every bit of equipment, there was no demand. And I only use two pieces of equipment. Three so four, if you count the bucket, I carry them in, I have a smoker, which is that was probably the hardest thing for me to learn. But I have a smoker. I have a brush that I use to brush the bees off. So that gently kind of removes them and then I have that weird pry bar with the hook thing on the end. I don’t remember ..

Tom Kubiak  
Beekeepers tools, hive tools. 

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, hive tool, though. And that’s it. If you have a hive and those things you can pretty much, people have done it with less. I mean, there’s old farmers, they used to be like, the bees, they kind of fill up that tree with honey and then I go and grab it. And it’s like, oh, and that works. It’s true. Yeah, that’s it. That’s exactly what you need. But you could also spend a million dollars on beekeeping equipment. So you know. Like your fancy German jacket

Tom Kubiak  
Exactly. Polish. It’s not German. It’s polish, polish company.

Ian Robertson  
You have the most amazing beekeeping jacket ever. Meanwhile, mine that I got off of Amazon, I found that was actually made for women because I’m like, What? Beekeepers jackets zip on the other side? I’m like, why does it?¬†

Tom Kubiak  
You’re Michael Scott.

Ian Robertson  
Exactly. Look at the tag inside says mysterious. There’s no pockets because it’s Italian.

Tom Kubiak  
And shoulder pads.

Ian Robertson  
Shoulder pads. But just kind of know that if you’re gonna buy on Amazon, you might get a woman’s jacket. If you’re a woman it might workout.

Tom Kubiak  
Hopefully everyone understands The Office references.

Ian Robertson  
If not, you should by now. 

Tom Kubiak  
Definitely. No, yeah, and that’s, that’s good enough thing to start with. And then as Ian mentioned, you want you’re gonna want to start ahead of time. And then once you’ve got your hardware, the box the stand the Kleenex excluder, you might need to get a feeder which sits on the top of the hive and that provides an opportunity for the bees to get, you can feed the bees with some sugar water and you know, maybe some additives like vitamin or other additives, those essential oils. And by doing that..

Ian Robertson  
Steroids.

Tom Kubiak  
Steroids.

Ian Robertson  
Get really jacked.

Tom Kubiak  
You extend the their season because you’re gonna get your bees and there isn’t going to be enough pollen out there to help to feed them yet. So by providing the liquid sugar water, that helps get them started. And then you have to decide, oh, go ahead. Jump in.

Ian Robertson  
I actually took the opposite approach. I used to feed my bees. And those hives never lasted when I stopped feeding my bees they started to last and this is completely..

Tom Kubiak  
But were you mite treating at the same time? 

Ian Robertson  
Yeah.

Tom Kubiak  
Okay, so alright.

Ian Robertson  
So here’s my thing with the with the sugar water, what I found my bees doing was getting sugar water and not going out there and doing their thing and getting pollen.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
You think you’re making them lazy?

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, I’m making some lazy bees. I don’t I don’t know, it’s like when they say don’t feed the bears because then they’ll only eat garbage and they won’t go out and forage. I think I think my bees are like bears.

Tom Kubiak  
Maybe, but you should only feed probably should feed till about the middle of May. That’s typically when I would feed. Because by that point, you’ve got days that are above, you know, 60 degrees regularly, you know, because the bees aren’t gonna fly unless it’s 50 degrees. And even if it’s, you know, 55 that’s not comfortable for them. So you know, when you have a laying Queen that’s been in there for three or four weeks, and you’re and it’s 50 degrees out or raining in the in the spring, you’ve got to be able to have a way to help them build up some reserves. So I’m strongly in favor of feeding early, early season feeding, at least you could feed some people feed with sugar patties, or pollen patties, that’s another thing that will also produce or stimulate your your hive because the queen is going to lay based upon what she sees happening with the environment. So if if she doesn’t think that there’s enough resources to support the hive, she’s not going to lay as as much. On the other hand if she sees all the bees are bringing in pollen, or you’ve put a pollen patty in the the hive that tricks them into thinking that they have pollen, then she’s going to lay more regularly and you’re going to end up having those bees hatch three weeks out. And you know, you’re gonna have way more worker bees than you started out with. That’s your goal. Your goal is to get a hive that’s big enough to carry in honey and they will do that an active hive can fill a super with honey and in a week, you know.

Ian Robertson  
So I guess I should caveat I do feed my bees. I do not feed them sugar water though. 

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, ok.

Ian Robertson  
What I read, the sugar water actually ends up in your honey. So it’s not going to be all nectar? Is that correct?

Tom Kubiak  
You can’t feed, you can’t feed sugar water when you have honey supers on. Correct.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. Okay. So I don’t like to do that. I do give them pollen patties.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Okay. Yeah. 

Ian Robertson  
Because the pollen patties actually do not end up in the honey. The bee itself consumes it. So a bee has two stomachs. One where it keeps the nectar and all that stuff when when it sucks it out. And then, for lack of a better term pukes it up into honey. And then the other stomach is that’s there for eating. So the pollen goes into the eating stomach. And so that’s I do give them pollen patties and that does get them ramped up.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Right. That’s right.¬†

Ian Robertson  
As soon as you put that in, you have to wait six to eight weeks though, because the bee goes through the lifespan of now the Queen has to start getting activated the drones mate with her and, you know, starting to put them in brood boxes, and then they have to be born and then the lifecycle of the bee is six weeks. So six to eight weeks, you’re really not going to have much happening. You just you’re just waiting for the bees to get old enough to go out and do their thing. Exactly, yeah. Yeah.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah. So it’s it’s a fun hobby. So then so as you’re saying once you once you’ve got a good amount of brood, which is where basically little baby bees are patching, the Queen fills up the first two boxes with that, and then they also put pollen and some honey in those cells in the bottom part of the hive. Then you have that queen excluder, which stops the queen from going above that it’s a basically a mesh that it’s big enough for the worker bees to get through but not for the queen to get through. It just stops her from going through. And then you put on honey supers which are smaller boxes, they’re not quite as deep as the boxes where she lays her eggs. And they are where the bees will build comb and store resources and that that resources typically will be honey. So what when you want to harvest honey, you can take those frames and not disturb the brood or the the area where the bees are laid.¬†

Ian Robertson  
You know, you told everybody to look at YouTube. I will give this one caution. So we’re just talking about the queen excluder, and I think that’s a perfect example. Everybody’s gonna give you a million different opinions.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, true. That is really true. 

Ian Robertson  
I was so confused when I started because everybody was saying something different. And there’s a million ways to skin a cat. The process that we just gave you buy a Langstroth hive, get the basic suit, get three basic tools, two brood boxes, green excluder, super, give them a pile and patty or the or the sugar water. Yeah, that’s very, very basic. That will get you going. It’s actually not that hard to get into. And you can do all of that for under 600 bucks. Yes. Depending on where you get your bees. That’s, that’s another big one. But like the queen excluder is a perfect example. At first, I was reading all this stuff and I never put in a queen excluder. You you reduce the life of your bees by like 10% you damage the wings of the worker bee and technically yes. But in reality, it’s like how are you going to take your honey out of there? Yeah, with there’s all these like baby bees. If you’ve ever seen brood it’s nasty looking horrible. Yeah. It’s like this goo and there’s little worms coming out. And it’s got half gone faces like you know, it’s not cool. You don’t want to eat that.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah. Hopefully you you know, I’ve done it both ways. I’ve I’ve done whole years with no excluders on, but I just I choose to use the excluder now, because it just makes harvesting honey so much easier. It is probably a little harder for the hive because they, you know, they have to squeeze themselves through that. And I’ve had hives that just will not go through it. Like they they just will not build above the excluder. So it just depends on on the hive. So then why don’t you tell the audience what your options are for getting bees, you can’t just put the hive out there and bees move in.¬†

Ian Robertson  
Well you can sometimes.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, that’s true if you if you catch a swarm. Yeah.¬†

Ian Robertson  
If it catch a swarm, but that’s, that’s a little advanced. So you really have two options you have, you can buy what’s called a nuke, or a nuc. How do you pronounce it? Nuc?

Tom Kubiak  
I think they say a nuc. 

Ian Robertson  
Nuc. If you say it enough it doesn’t sound like a word.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
No, it’s true. Nuc.

Ian Robertson  
Nuc, it’s a nuc. So basically, that’s where they raised the hive for you. And they put a queen with an established hive in a box. And you just transfer them into your beehive. Yeah, so you I like to take the bottom brood box personally. Put them in there. Just move them all over and done. Yeah. And try not to kill the queen in the process. She’s hard to find. If you don’t know what you’re doing she’s not easy to see.

Tom Kubiak  
Get a queen that’s marked. That makes it much easier.

Ian Robertson  
They’ll mark the queen for you. They give her a little marker on her butt. But you can do that. Or you can do an overwintered nuc where they’ve already raised this hive. And the Queen has already successfully brought that hive through a winter. Yeah, so in overwintered hive has exponentially higher chance..¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Much stronger, much stronger.

Ian Robertson  
Much stronger. So that’s your first option. The option that I’ve actually been the most successful with. I ordered bees at a Tractor Supply¬†

Tom Kubiak  
In a pack, package bees. 

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, package bees. So It’s really freaky like you get a mail to your post office. And then somebody calls you frantically because they’re like, there’s bees. And they and it’s open. Yep. Like there’s just some screen there. And the bees are like yelling at you, basically. And the people are freaking out in the back and you just casually grab it and go home. But basically, there’s a queen that’s separated from these bees. So they give you a bunch of bees that have no queen, and now they’re like, oh, no, what do we do? Then there’s a queen. She’s like, Hey, guys, I’m here for you. But you need to build a relationship. And you need to get them to stay. So when you put them in your hive, you’re gonna do it differently. With a nuc you just put it in and forget it, this is where we live now. Yep, this one, you actually take a little bit of marshmallow. Yeah. And you, the queens in this tiny little box with a hanger on it. You shove the marshmallow in the hole to keep the queen in there. And so the Queen stuck in this box and you hang that in the hive. Then you open the box with the rest of the bees, and the bees will go looking for her. So they have to eat thru that marshmallow to free the queen. It’s like Princess Bride or something. We need to free her.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
They’re rescuing Princess Leia.

Ian Robertson  
Exactly. So in the meantime, while they’re doing that the Queen’s like, you know, it’s not that bad here. And workers are like, Hey, man, we already we already established we got we’re building stuff. So when by the time they free her, likely they’re gonna stay in your hive. Yeah, if you just let them in there, they fly away and find a different spot.

Tom Kubiak  
Or they kill the queen, because they’re not used to her.¬†

Ian Robertson  
Or they kill the queen. Yep, they need to get used to her, build a relationship. So so that part can be a little freaky.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, and that method is a little bit less expensive. So you’re buying basically you’re buying three pounds of bees and a mated queen. And those two things combined, you know, are the beginnings of a hive. But remember those bees, they don’t have anything started. So when you put them in your hive, they have to go through that whole process of building frames, and she’s got to lay eggs. And so you’re you’re setting yourself about four weeks behind on established nuc, and you know, maybe possibly even more behind an overwintered nuc. So you’re going to pay maybe $100 more for the nuc, but you’re going to be that much farther ahead with an established hive. And the other advantage is if it’s your first time doing it, when you take the the frames out of the nuc box, you get a look at what a real hive is supposed to look like. And there’s kind of an advantage to that if you don’t have a friend or an experienced beekeeper you can hang out with.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, and I guess it kind of all depends on budget and experience. And again, this is just anecdotally the bees that I bought from Tractor Supply online. Awesome. Yeah. It’s two of my best Hives came from Tractor Supply. I had never gotten more honey in my life. I remember going out there in July you know..doo doo doo.. like, Oh, crud, these bees that are just established have filled up an entire super. I’m dumping in I had like five, six gallons of honey and I didn’t know what to do with it all. And they survived this my most recent hive. Tractor Supply. I haven’t bought a nuc in years. The nuc never survived for me and I don’t know why.

Tom Kubiak  
My nucs always did, when i bought nucs. They always did better. But it is what it is.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. So then you got to extract the honey. Yes, that’s the next thing.

Tom Kubiak  
And there’s a couple methods for doing that. One method is you know, the grab and squeeze method where you basically just, you know, scrape off the high the the frames of honey scrape off the wax and everything all included and you just squeeze it through a cheesecloth or some kind of strainer and let it dribble out. Another method is you buy an extractor, which is where you basically put in you cut off the top layer of a frame, which is the section that they cap. So the the hive, the bees make, a hexagonal cell, they fill it with honey and they put a wax cap on the top of it. You’ve cut that wax cap off, and you put it in what’s called an extractor and it it spins it around with centrifugal force and throws all the honey that’s in that frame out against the wall of the extractor and a dribbles down and and then you can open up a valve and put it into into bottles. Or you do what Ian’s done.

Ian Robertson  
What have I’ve done the first one.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
You did a flow hive.

Ian Robertson  
Oh yeah. Flow Hive. I don’t remember my own stuff. Yeah, so the Flow Hive is an experiment for me we’ll to do a different podcast and I’ll I’ll talk about it.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, because I want to hear about it. I’ve read about it but not not heard.

Ian Robertson  
But basically you have the comb already there for them. And the key just basically opens the combs are all they’re doing is tapping it so you’re saving them work with that. They’re like oh, cool hexagonal cones already and they’re putting stuff in there. And then when..¬†

Tom Kubiak  
It opens the crack end of it. 

Ian Robertson  
It opens all of it every last comb, it offsets it just a little bit, runs down to the bottom and out of out of pipe. So you just sit there with a jar, hypothetically, and it all comes out. Here’s the caveat, you have to do it warm. So it has to be on when the bees are in there, the bees keep it at like 90 degrees or something in the summertime. So if it’s not that 90 degrees, it’s not coming out. And I had some friends, I have some friends who have a Flow Hive, and they can’t get the honey to come out. So they have to try heating it. Because now all the honey is just sitting..¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, it’s crystallized maybe or something. Okay, yeah.¬†

Ian Robertson  
So you have to you have to do it when it’s fresh. Do it right out in the field with the bees there, you’re gonna get some bees in your honey, but Oh, well. But here’s my thing with the two methods you mentioned, I actually started to go back to just scraping it. It does make it harder on the bees. Because the extractor actually saves most of the wax for the bees and just takes the caps off. And now the bees don’t have to work as hard and they can start building honey in there, instead of building up the combs again.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
Right. 

Ian Robertson  
So that’s an advantage. But I find that it doesn’t take them that long to do that. And the extractor wastes a lot of honey. So imagine this big barrel and the extractor spinning. And unless you’re doing 10, 15, 20 gallons of honey, you’re gonna lose a jar or two on the sides of that thing. When you’re cleaning it off you’re washing off your honey.

Tom Kubiak  
I don’t. I have a like, what do they call it, a silicone spatula. And I scraped down the walls of mine and I think I get pretty much all the honey in it.

Ian Robertson  
I don’t know, I feel like there’s a lot of waste in it. And how do you keep the you know, that little bearing at the bottom where it actually spins? How do you keep the grease from coming out of that?

Tom Kubiak  
I have a sealed, it’s a sealed, mine has a sealed bearing at the bottom of it.

Ian Robertson  
Okay, mine doesn’t and make sure you get the sealed bearing.

Tom Kubiak  
So yours is getting grease in the honey?

Ian Robertson  
It did at first I figured out a way to I’ve figured out a way to keep it off and actually cleaned all the grease off. It just makes it harder to turn. Okay. So there’s no more grease in there.¬†

Tom Kubiak  
So can you take out the spinning center of your ? 

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. 

Tom Kubiak  
Oh, see mine is permanently fixed.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, so that’s important for everyone to realize. But, you know, I buy those six gallon, food grade strainers off Amazon. I just shove it all in there. I leave it hanging overnight over a bucket. All the pure honey comes out fills up the bucket. I go take that wax and they either make candles or something out of it. Actually make wood finish out of it, it’s one of my favorite wood finishes. And then I just chuck the rest over by the bees. And within a day they’ve taken all the wax.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, they’ll clean it up.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah. But yeah, that’s the short of it. So we’re gonna have to do some other podcasts and get deeper into it. But that’s our bees 101 podcast, I think.

Tom Kubiak  
Yeah, maybe maybe one of these times we can talk about, you know, maybe later in the year after we’ve finished our treatments, like some of the things that we’re doing to to protect the bees and what people are doing to protect the bees because bees have a lot of challenges against them right now. And, you know, there’s things that make it so that getting them to live through the winter is very difficult. So maybe we could talk about that in an upcoming podcast some of the what’s been successful for you and what what I’m finding success doing.

Ian Robertson  
Yeah, no, that’d be fantastic. I think that’d be a great thing because we do that a lot. Work with bees. So I mean to end it, do you know what a bee hives favorite singer is?¬†

Tom Kubiak  
I don’t.¬†

Ian Robertson  
Beyonce. 

Tom Kubiak  
Oh my word. 

Ian Robertson  
It used to be the Bee Gees.

Tom Kubiak  
Well do you know what you call a bee who returns from the dead? 

Ian Robertson  
I know. 

Tom Kubiak  
A zombie.

Ian Robertson  
Folks, thanks for listening in to Drinking With Tom. 

Tom Kubiak  
Awesome, Ian, great to talk to you. Have a good night.

Ian Robertson  
Talk later.

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