As the snow melts and temps rise, thoughts turn to Spring

Winter reluctantly giving up its chilly grip on the Mohawk Valley.

Looking ahead to Spring, we dwell on thoughts of being outside more, gardening, and getting out and about in the Mohawk Valley. Spring, which officially began on March 21st—seems a bit slow to arrive. The snow has already melted, the ground is softened, and yet, there are snow flurries across the Mohawk Valley today.

Yes indeed, this is still March and winter weather may still have a surprise or two in store for us! But it is still nice to take a walk around outside each day and watch up close the small subtle changes showing us that spring will soon be fully here!

Livestock arriving soon!

We are looking ahead to making some springtime changes this year. We will soon see our first live stock arrive here on the homestead! That’s right we will soon be beekeepers for two brand new hives! Since bees produce honey, and honey is an agricultural product produced by bees, bees are in fact considered to bee livestock!

Some reasons we want to keep bees on our property:

  1. Add Pollinators – Last year we did not see very many pollinators in the garden and we felt having a couple of hives might help our garden and our neighbor’s gardens, as well as help preserve the bee population in the Mohawk Valley.
  2. Honey – Of course we’d love to be able to harvest honey, but that is not always possible the first year of beekeeping. There is much to learn, but hopefully, honey to look forward to at the end of the season!
  3. Work with and learn from nature – Bees do their thing with or without us, and they are incredible creatures that can teach us a lot about working with, and not against, nature. Beekeeping is a natural approach to help us learn more about nature, and the interconnectedness of plants, animals and insects here in the Mohawk Valley.

How can we make this homestead productive once again?

That has been the driving question for us for quite some time. This question continues to help us keep looking ahead. We have been living in the Mohawk Valley for a few years now and have learned that looking ahead to the next season, while in the middle of the current one, helps to keep us prepare and continually improve our little homestead.

Working from Home – So little free time each day

Our plans to have a couple of bee hives this spring came about as result of us asking the question, “How can we make this homestead productive once again?” We both work from home with many hours during throughout the week busy at our day jobs. Weekends and evenings are usually spent outside or making plans to be productive. So, we were looking for something that could be done regularly but not everyday as we maintain a work-life balance. New to beekeeping, we knew we would need help in finding the right resources to get started off on the right foot.

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Hives For Heroes

As a veteran, I happened across this organization called Hives For Heroes. This nonprofit works to match veterans with local beekeepers. The Mentors are experienced beekeepers and provide mentoring, guidance and support to the veteran “newbee” beekeepers to help them develop their first hives and help them become successful beekeepers.

From the Hives For Heroes website:

“Hives for Heroes is a national military veteran non-profit organization focusing on honey bee conservation and a healthy transition from service. Through the national network of beekeepers and veterans we provide connection, purpose, and healthy relationships fostering a lifelong hobby in beekeeping.”

This seemed like a great idea! I knew I needed to learn quite a bit about keeping bees, and here was an organization offering to help! So I sent an email to Hives for Heroes, and before long, I was assigned a mentor to help me get started! My mentor has been very helpful in talking with me about beekeeping, and helping me make my first selections for hives and beekeeping equipment needed to get started.

This is all very exciting and I look forward to the day our bees arrive in May!

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Cornell Small Farms Program

Since connecting with my mentor I have placed my order for my hives and equipment, ordered my bees from a local master beekeeper which will be arriving sometime in May, and enrolled in a Basic Beekeeping online course through the Small Farms program at Cornell University. This program from Cornell provides.

I have found the online courses they offer very educational and helpful in learning the basics of beekeeping. but they offer so much more by way of courses to help small farmers.

Hives for Heroes can helps veterans get started with beekeeping and help to start you on your way to becoming a Newbee Beekeeper. Please connect with them directly at their website.

Cornell Small Farms Program has a lot to offer to people all over the world looking to learn more about farming and and raising livestock. The small farms program is tremendously supportive to new and experienced farmers alike, offering many courses that can be taken online to help you become more knowledgeable and successful on your small farm. Please connect with Cornel Small Farms Program to learn more about their projects, courses, resources and you can sign up for their newsletter!

I have found the Cornell Small Farms Program website very helpful in learning what is possible as landowner, the varied ways to make our land productive, as we develop new knowledge and skills to help us become successful living the in the Mohawk Valley. I highly recommend checking out what they offer!

We will keep you posted on our progress and share some of the excitement on video. Be sure to check back to our YouTube channel to catch the latest update!

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