The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on July 27, 1980 · Page 50
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 50

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 27, 1980
Page 50
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Page 10 The Salina Journal Sunflower Sunday, July 17,1980 Sunday, July 2771980 Concord/o man gets a buzz from beekeeping The Salina Journal Sunflower Page 11 JAMESTOWN — Gary Reynolds doesn't look much like a beekeeper today. It's too hot for his usual veil, he says. He'd rather take his chances with a few stings. Those who don't know Reynolds and his Rainbow Honey Farm might not recognize the brightly painted wooden boxes on the back of his truck as honey supers. They hardly resemble the traditional pristine white hives seen along fence rows. But as Reynolds stops the truck at one of his bee yards, his face lights up with joy. "Oh, look at that," he says in a tone that proclaims it among the most beautiful sights in the world. "That's an alfalfa field in bloom." It's a clue to the intensity of Reynolds' dedication to his profession. Out in the yard, Reynolds is definitely a pro. He pops the funnel shaped lid off the smoker and fills the belly with chunks of dry, rotted wood. One match creates a healthy plume of smoke in seconds, without using the bellows on the side of the device. Secret in wood "The secret's in the wood," Reynolds says. Usually beekeepers use old burlap strips which are harder to get started and smell worse. , With the smoker going, Reynolds starts working the hive. He puffs a bit of smoke into the hive to quiet the bees, then removes the lid and begins checking the frames filled with honeycomb. The comb in the frames is nearly all capped with wax. It's ready for harvest. So Reynolds sprinkles a chemical (benzaldehyde) on the inside of the lid to drive the bees out of the super. After a few minutes, most of the bees have evacuated and Reynolds can load the honey-filled super on the truck. A check on another colony reveals a problem. "I got ..trouble, this one's plugged up. That's a no-no in the bee business," he says. The bees have begun storing honey in a hive body which should be filled with brood comb containing the eggs and larvae for a new batch of bees. Reynolds moves the box up a story and adds a box full of empty comb. Otherwise there may not be enough bees in the hive to survive the winter. One bee does not appreciate the attention. "Ouch!" the beekeeper complains as he scrapes a stinger from his hand. "I don't like getting stung any more than anyone else," Reynolds says. "And I'm not too proud to yen, even if there's a reporter around." "I have never been allergic to bees to the point where you pass out and have to go to the hospital. But when I first started out I would swell up from the stings. "At the end of the semester when I took my first beekeeping class at Kansas State, a friend and I went out to use our new-found knowledge to work his bees." He holds his hands apart to indicate a sphere the size of a large cantaloupe as he says, "I remember driving back to Manhattan and this was a fist." Reynolds says he has been lucky in that his sensitivity to bee stings has decreased over the years. There have been cases in which beekeepers have become more allergic to stings and have bad to give up working bees. "I have only been run out of the bee yards once. We were requeening a whole yard down in Louisiana and had the bees so stirred up, it was just terrible. I swore we'd never do it again that way."; While driving to his shop in Jamestown, Reynolds talks about some of the problems faced by beekeepers. As an active member of the Kansas State Beekeepers Association, be has worked on various projects to promote honey, including displays at the Kansas State Fair. "Most people know two things about bees: one, they sting, and two, they make honeys-People think of them in that order." , """- Kansas Profiles riculture. Fruit growers and fanners raising alfalfa seed often ask him to move bee colonies near their crops but don't seem to understand how much the bees contribute. He usually does it for those living nearby,. even though the amount of honey he gets is often nearly outweighed by the trouble and expense of transporting the hives. One man called to ask him to move some hives into a field about 70 miles away, but wasn't willing to pay a pollination fee. With the cost of gas for transporting the hives, Reynolds decided he couldn't do it just for the honey. He would like to see fanners become aware of the extent to which bees increase yields and become willing to pay for pollination services. As an agriculture graduate of K-State, Reynolds is aware of the problems farmers face. He sympathizes with the financial pressures to push land to maximum production by plowing up fence rows full of sweet clover and eliminating the old practice of rotating crops with sweet clover for soil enrichment. He even understands the pressure to spray stands but does not agree. under- He tries to place his yards away from fields which might be sprayed to avoid drift problems. But the tactic does not always work. Today he has just visited a yard in the middle of a pasture. It's been hit by insecticide from an unknown source. Beekeepers also honor a "gentleman's agreement" not to place their hives too near an existing yard. With 1150 hives, usually placed in yards of 20 to 40 hives, Reynolds needs a lot of locations. He has few problems getting permission to place his bees near promising stands of clover or alfalfa. The landowners collect rent of two to five gallons of honey, depending on the number of hives he has in the yard. That honey is extracted at Reynolds' Jamestown shop. A partitioned room in one end of the warehouse houses three motorized extractors, each about six feet across. Together they can extract honey from 175 frames of honeycomb. When the boxes come off the truck, they go into the extracting room. There the frames of honey go through the uncapping saw. Vibrating blades slice off the cap- pings on both sides of the comb before the frames are placed inside the extractor. Centrifugal force Centrifugal force created by the spinning basket inside flings the honey against the steel sides of the extractor and down into a collection tank below the floor. As the honey drains down it passes through a series of screens which begin the filtering process. Any wax particles or other debris rise to the top of the collection tank. Pure honey is pumped from the bottom of the tank through overhead pipes to large tanks in the warehouse. After a final filtering through cheesecloth, it is drained off into barrels ready for shipment to a distributor. Out in the warehouse, the first barrels of this year's crop stand ready for shipment. "That's about $4,000 worth of honey," Reynolds says. "But we need to gross about $50,000 to make it. Costs are up. That fork lift over there cost $8,800." He sounds much like any fanner as he worries about escalating production costs and the hot, dry weather. When temperatures stay above 70 degrees all night, plants don't produce nectar, bees can't gather it and there is no honey. "I was out in the beeyard the other night as the clouds went over, just praying for rain," he says. "Otherwise, this might be one of the years we just don't make it." Bees needed Reynolds would especially like farmers to have a better understanding of the contribution bees make to ag- DRONE BEE — Holding a frame full of bees, Reynolds points to a drone — larger than a worker and without a sting. Story by Kay Berenson Photos by Fritz Mendel I calming them with a puff from per, opens a hive of bees after STICKY BUSINESS — Addie Anderson ignore stray bees as they prepare honey(left) and her son, Howard, Jamestown, comb frames for the extractor. HONEY CHECK - Reynolds checks a frame of honeycomb to see if it is capped with wax and ready for extracting.

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