Thursday, May 25, 2017

May in the bee yard

Lots blooming in late May and the bees know it! Tulip poplar, Black locust, Wild black cherry,
Red chestnut, Horse chestnut and white clover are just some of the blooms the bees are working lately. The bee yards smell of honey and the hives are getting heavy with nectar and honey and require constant attention so as not to run out room for storage. 
It's swarm season too and any colony that fills the brood nest with nectar so the queen has trouble finding open comb to lay eggs in is bound to head for the trees. A busy time for the bees and the beekeeper! Just the way we like it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Empire State Honey Producers 2017 Summer Picnic July 22!

JULY 22, 2017

Theme: Determining Hive Health

Come join us at the 2017 ESHPA Summer Picnic at the famous Cornell Dyce Labs!  We’re going to do some hands-in-the-hive learning, play some beekeeping games, win door prizes, enjoy a good lunch and listen to the latest from Cornell bee researchers.

Picnic Date: July 22, 2017

Location: Dyce Lab for Honey Bee Research, 209 Freese Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850

Cost: $25 – includes Chicken BBQ, Pasta Primavera, Pesto Potato salad, breads cookies, water and soda from Ithaca Bakery (lunch pre-registration required by July 8).  Walk-in meeting-only registration also available.

Register online at or use the coupon on page 2 of newsletter.

Our special program includes a chance to learn from expert beekeepers (veils are required for everyone approaching live hives.) Planned breakout sessions include:

  • “Varroa detection in the hive” taught by Emma Mullen, CCE Extension specialist

  • "Hive inspection basics" by Earl Villecco, commercial beekeeper

  • “Supplemental feeding strategies using sugars and pollen” by Jim Doan, commercial beekeeper

  • “Making splits and nucs” taught by Dan Winters, commercial beekeeper

  • “Preparing for the Fall Meeting honey show in Ontario” by Jon Ryan, commercial beekeeper

  • “Nosema detection” by Christina Wahl


10:00am   Welcome by President Mark Berninghausen

10:15am   Speakers: Dr. Scott McArt, Department of Entomology Cornell University with an update on Cornell’s NY research programs,  and Emma Mullen, Cornell Honey Bee Extension Associate, on Varroa Mite Updates.

11:15am   General membership meeting

                    Lots of door prizes from Mann-Lake, Dadant and Brushy Mountain

12:00pm   Catered lunch and some fun beekeeper themed contests by Michelle Fuller

1:00pm – 3:00 pm   Breakout Sessions (rotating 20 minute sessions)


Scott McArt is an assistant professor of pollinator health at the Cornell Department of Entomology. Before starting at Cornell in 2014, he completed his Masters at the University of Alaska, PhD at Cornell and a postdoc at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Major current research projects include: 1) Assessing pesticide risk to bees across different landscape and agricultural contexts, 2) Evaluating the relative importance of pesticides, pathogens and other factors on colony performance, and 3) Understanding pathogen transmission in complex plant-pollinator networks. Current extension efforts include the NYS beekeeper tech team, training veterinarians on honey bee diseases as part of the new Veterinary Feed Directive and advising growers on pest control practices that minimize risk to bees.

Emma comes to us from Ontario, Canada, where she completed her Master’s degree in honey bee behavioral genetics at Western University and served as the campus beekeeper. She then worked at the University of Guelph, reporting to the Ministry of Agriculture on the status and trends of bee health in Ontario. 

The ESHPA summer board meeting will be held at Dyce Labs the night before (July 21, 2017) at 4 pm followed by networking at a local micro-brewery.   All members are welcome to come to the board meeting and join the board for dinner afterward.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Biophilia Organic Farm CSA in Jamesport NY

Our friends at Biophilia Organic Farm on the East End in Jamesport.

We thought it was about time we mentioned some of our friends out in farm country who have been of great support to Tom's Honey Bees over the years.

The gang at Biophilia Organic Farm have been one such group year in and year out. They work a 14 acre Preserved Organic Farm in Jamesport growing a wide variety of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers every year for their CSA members. How does 5 dozen varieties of tomatoes (yes 5 dozen!) and nine varieties of garlic sound? Lettuce, kale, potatoes, carrots..... the veggie list goes on and on, berries, flowers and a whole lot of herbs. All Certified Organic and all about the best you'll ever taste.

I have an apiary on the farm to supply pollination to the crops and flowers and berries and fruits. It's been a pleasure. When a swarm issues from one of my hives, my phone rings right away so I know what has just happened. When we get freezing cold winter weather with wind and snow, I get regular updates about how the hives look. When all hell breaks loose during the nice spring weather and the bees are flying all over the farm, I get a call telling me how active they are that day. What more can I possibly ask for? and Farmer Phil Barbato is about the best steward of the land one could hope for, and he has become my friend.
The bees are healthy on Biophilia, they are safe and they make some terrific honey in a clean and wholesome environment.

Some information about Biophilia Organic Farm is below. Farmer Phil has the farm stand at the barn open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am-4pm if you'd like to stop by and see what goes on there for yourself. Take a little tour, walk around, watch my bees, talk to Phil and pet Pudgy the dog. This farm is not your typical East End farm and I say that proudly.
 Currently, there is a wide variety of veggie plants, herb plants and flower plants for sale this spring at the farm stand (and Tom's Honey). The name, Biophilia, says it all!   

The Biophilia CSA

 CSA shares are available now. As a CSA member, you will receive a variety of our freshly harvested, organic produce every week. The 2017 season will run for 20 weeks, from June 1-Oct. 13. Over the course of the season, the size and weight of shares will vary depending on what crops are being harvested. For instance, the fresh lettuce and greens in the beginning are lightweight and delicious, but when the squash, potatoes, and tomatoes come in starting in July, your share will weigh significantly more. Generally, a full share is enough for a family of three or more. The price of a full share is $550 for on-farm pickup or $650 for Port Jeff Brewery pickup. We also offer a weekly half share, generally enough for one or two people, for $345 on-farm pickup or $445 for Pt Jeff Brewery pickup. Final payments are due June 1st. We will fill slots as we receive payment. 


CSA members can also participate in the growing experience by purchasing a “working share” with their own labor. Labor equivalents are 4 hours per week, every week, for a full share. This is hard, demanding work, so talk it over with Phil before signing up.
 Pickups are primarily at the farm on Thursdays from 3:00-7:00 PM. A second pickup point is available at the Port Jeff Brewing Co. on Fridays from 1:00-7:00pm. If you cannot make a pickup you may have someone else pick up your box that week or we will donate it to charity.
Feel free to call or email (516-769-9732, with any questions you may have or to arrange a farm visit. We look forward to seeing you again or meeting you for the first time.