bees and smart meters

A couple of weeks ago published a comment received from a friend about the behaviour of her bees after the installation of SMart Meters.  This week, she had commented of a large die-off of her bee population, attributing this to the smart meters.

The following is a commentary from her neighbor, who is our local “bee guru”.  On a personal note, I have chosen NOT to join the bee keeper group he is speaking of.  It is made up of locals who are either “keeping” or are concerned about the plight of the bees as a reflection of the health of beings on this planet.  My choice not to join them was based on some fundamental differences in my POV of what our role is as “bee keepers”, along with the fact that I’m just plain NOT a joiner.

This message has also been edited, removing actual names as I am posting this without permission


As a result of the messages to the group about one’s experience with the possibly negative effects of smart meters upon the hive of bees in her backyard, I have received many questions lately about smart meters.
I am concerned that smart meters COULD have harmful effects upon the health of humans, honeybees, and other living creatures. Because of those concerns, I chose to “opt out” of the smart meter installation. Another reason we opted out is that our analog electrical meter is located only about fifteen feet from our two backyard beehives. That was a bit too close for comfort.
That said, I myself have seen no direct evidence that smart meters have affected or are affecting any of the hives of honeybees that I am taking care of. There is a new smart meter within about one hundred feet of both of our backyard beehives. That meter was recently installed on a neighbor’s property. As far as I can tell, both hives and strong and healthy. They are bringing in plenty of yellow and red pollen this morning.
There are two other hives that I am taking care of here in the Verde Valley area that have had a smart meter installed within one hundred feet of their location. Both hives are “hale and hearty.” One of them was actually knocked over by a cow, but you’d never know it. Those bees are especially strong and resilient because one of my present students caught them in West Sedona with a pheromone lure: they’re Africanized (hooray!).
Therefore, I have not witnessed or experienced any direct correlation or cause to effect relationship between the installation of nearby smart meters and sudden changes to the health and well-being of four colonies of bees that I am taking care of (or trying to). The bees seem unaffected.
This anecdotal and inductive evidence does not refute the reports, but it does present a differing perspective. As you may have heard me say at our first official meeting on March 29, there are clearly many differences in background, philosophy, and practice in our group, and I think that we should respect, honor, and even cultivate the differences (as the bees do, when they swarm), while still finding common ground and while still working together on behalf of the health and well-being of the honeybee.
 I have been taught by my elders to think critically and skeptically about all notions of truth, including my own. I would be less skeptical about the possible harmful effects of smart meters upon honeybees if a scientific measurement could be taken of the electromagnetic radiation at ……’s hive location. There are meters that measure RF waves. I don’t have one, however. Perhaps the meter could measure the RFs that her bees are experiencing to see if the levels are, in fact, unusually high and potentially harmful to the bees. The same device could be used to test the RF levels of other hive locations, like my own backyard apiary (located only two or three hundred yards from that location). Perhaps these measurements would show profound differences, or none at all….
So, “color me skeptical,” and also concerned about the health and well-being of the hive of honeybees that Marianna is taking care of. I hope that the bees living in her backyard are resilient (as they usually are) and that they “shake off” whatever has been bothering them, whether it turns out to be smart meter RF exposure, or not.
This issue is certainly something that our group can discuss and explore together, maybe at our next meeting. There may be some of you who want to create a subgroup to do research into the effects of electromagnetic radiation upon honeybees. For now, my own main research interests are into pollen analyses of local honey (to see what bees eat) and into legalizing urban beekeeping here in the “AfroEuropean” Southwest.
I hope that this long message finds you and your honeybees well. From what I’m seeing, the main early springtime nectar flow has diminished, but local red tip photonias are in full bloom and may provide the energizing bridge the bees need to get to the mesquite and other bean family tree bloom, like locusts and catclaw acacias. The mesquite flower buds are emerging, but it looks like (at least at this altitude) that the flowers will not open for another two or three weeks. Where I used to have bees in east Flagstaff, the “bridge” flowers to the monsoon came from the lovely Russian olive trees that the old Mormon bean farmers planted as windbreaks in the 40s and 50s. Without the flowers from these “weeds,” the bees would have been too weak to gather the brief but intense nectar flow that comes from the monsoon. By the way, I’d like to award our first annual “NAOBAn” honorary hexagon to whatever genius Landscraper started planting red tip photinias in Sedona. Great job!
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bee story

This is an anecdotal story from a friend and local bee keeper

Hi all local bee-keepers.
I had a not so nice (but very interesting) experience with my bees this morning — right after Smart meters were put in in ever house surrounding me, except mine — I opted out.
Smart meters have just gone in all around me.

I’ve been a bee-keeper for some time. My hive is known by local bee-keepers to be the most docile hive anyone has ever worked with. Two weeks ago, without having to smoke them, I went into the hive, reorganized combs and removed honey from four different combs, and neither I nor the person who was helping me were stung. Yes, they checked us out, landed on us, but no stings.
Today was a very different scenario. The meters went in all around me this morning (I just walked the block after I was attacked to see if it was just one meter or many meters). I counted one to the left, one kitty-corner to the left behind me, one directly behind me, one directly to my side (10 feet from my bedroom — closer to my house than it is to hers). There were two properties for which I could not see the meters, and did not wish to trespass: a second property directly to my right and one kitty-corner to the right. I had previously canvassed each of these houses, spoke to each owner. To a one they had expressed great gratitude for my having come around.
Today, after the meters were put in, as I came near my bee hive (I love watching them bring in pollen and do so every day) I had a new experience. I had gently opened the observation window in the back as I do about twice a month. they literally turned in droves, first marched toward me from under the hive (I’ve seen pictures like that march from killer ants in Africa, but never with bees, especially not my bees). Then as a group they sprang into the air and dive-bombed me. This has never happened. To me this is nature screaming out in alarm about the smart meters.
I’m curious if any of you have anything similar to report. Any ideas of what to do.
I consider this is a direct infringement on my lifestyle, moreover, the bees, being the sensitive ‘canaries’ of our environment that they are, are clearly telling us: STOP, before you kill everyone.

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shop till you drop

Prepper Fest in Phoenix, AZ this weekend.  Went down yesterday without a budget limit – good?  bad?  ready to buy many of things I’ve been looking at/for our possibilities bag!

This Goal Zero Yeti 150 was not on my list of MUST BUYs, but it is something I’ve been looking for.  When I first heard about this company it was called Humless and the smallest batter/solar panel combination was over $500 and I just couldn’t afford it.  By the time I could, they were gone and only the $2000 version was available.  Now it is called Goal Zero and this little unit, with solar panel was $380.  They still have the $2000 version – which will run appliances (maybe one day), but this will run a 12V light, charge a kindle, phone, laptop, dvd player, etc.  It is probably enough to give a battery a boost.

There is another unit, a little bit more, that comes complete with solar cell, unit and a lamp.  It was actually less, but held a little less than this one


This is the unit I’d originally been looking for

This is the unit I’d ultimately like to get

Also got a Berkey water filter. Got the Royal

also got a little rocket stove for the bug out bag, and a pretty nice solar cooker  just got the parabolic reflector, not the other stuff that came with it.

plus this really neat solar dehydrator  Not that I don’t have a perfectly good Excalibur, but its only a 5 shelf and sometimes not big enough AND this is all for the day when there might not be electric to count on!

Plus some books and videos.

Was surprised that there was no one there for water harvesting, although quite a bit for water purification and some storage.  Also some interesting hydroponic systems.  A lot of gloom and doom folks with pepper spray, camo, bullet proof plates, EMP protection for your computers (if we have an atomic bomb go off not sure if your computer working will be high on your priority list!). HAM radio folks were there and found out about the local HAM group.  Quite a bit of Years Supply of Food, Gluten Free, only $1900 for one person!! and big emergency medical kits.  Did pick up some extras for our first aid kit, including some suture sets.  Someone even had some BIG distillation units.  and there were a few people selling precious metals, and holsters.  It was a No Gun event, but the usual Constitutional advocates were there, Tea party,  Tenth Amendment, Second Amendment (though no NRA).  People selling land for your Escape.  One person selling gold claims (we have them in AZ, but am always leery of that!).

No canning, only food preservation was dehydrating.  Understand a years supply of dehydrated food takes up much less space than canned goods, but when you live someplace that only gets a couple of good rainfalls a year, your 50 gallon water drum only goes so far!

They had on going workshops, but nothing I was interested in while there

All in all, an interesting an entertaining day.

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grinder update

am not a hunter, but have found that we enjoy sausage, just not the additives and fat.  So began learning how to make my own, even if it is store bought meat.

Yes, I have one of those hand crank models.  outside of tonight’s hamburger, its not what you want to use when doing 5+ lbs of meat.  So bought an LEM #8 countertop 575 watt grinder.  Light weight, LOTS of plastic and aluminum.  Found out the hard way that the gears were plastic too!  Repaired, and it still works, but that aluminum really bothered me and it just didn’t have the power to go through tendon tissue.  Instead, that stuff clogged up the works OR meant lots of time really cutting the meat carefully.  Even a little fat would tangle up and clog.  Phooey!!

After a couple of years with that smaller unit, have just upgraded to the LEM #5 Big Bite .25hp grinder.  All steel, its exercise just to move this around!  The opening for the meat is about the same size as on the other, but the meat tray is much larger.  Also comes with 3 different size sausage stuffers.  Now, as you can see in the photo, hand forming sausage is not easy.  Patties, not too bad, but those nice shaped sausage are a lot of more difficult.  This unit has a nice 30mm (that’s a bit over an inch = 25mm), so I’ll be able to extrude a nice diameter sausage – just cut to length.  Obviously, am not interested in doing the casing thing!!


If you are interested in a nice quality electric meat grinder, here is the link to the LEM page.  You’ll see the plastic one towards the bottom for $119.99 – just before the listings for their hand powered grinders.  The #5 is the first one on the list.

From my research, LEM and Cabela’s have the really best quality all metal grinders out there – they are pretty much all made in China, including this one.

Know some folks like the grinder that comes with the Kitchen Aid, but (1), don’t have a kitchen aid and (2) form what I hear, again, if you are looking to do some quantity, it just isn’t enough.

BTW. if you are not into storing LOTS of seasonings for doing the sausage, they do have decent seasoning mixes – of course, then you’re back to some of the additives again.

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catching up


DH is away for the weekend, and so its time to catch up.  FINALLY some rain, so no garden work.  Instead did some canning.  Have no idea of how many lbs of butter, about 1/2 and 1/2 sweet and salted butter, 12 half pints and 3 full pints of ghee.  The half pints were done per various web posts; melted the butter, skimmed off foam, canned, and then shaken as the butter set up.  Chose to pressure can the jars.  7 had to be redone, and still one did not seal.  butter did boil up and push out.  the shaking didn’t seem to make much difference either.  Next time will just make it all ghee.

Also used my water bath canner to make 9 quarts of chicken stock, canned with chicken meat and some of the jars with rice.

and then sausage.  On the left are sweet Italian, on the right Bratwurst patties.  Both are handformed, and I did say patties for the brats.  We don’t keep a lot of bread in the house, the patties will work better on regular bread or rolls than the other shape.

all my sausages are pure lean pork, each one about 4oz, or slightly less. 

I freeze them individually and then put them into plastic bags for the freezer.


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2014 garden update

Cannot believe how fast time is rushing by!  here it is well into February already and feel like I’m wayyyyy behind on the garden and such

Did not get fall seeds planted.  when the COLD hit, had some seedling carrots in the ground and some store bought broccoli.  last I looked ground around them was FROZEN solid

See that the garlic is coming up nicely.  After our early December cold, it warmed up considerably, and even though the nights were freezing, day time temps were in the 60’s.

Now we’ve had a little (and I mean LITTLE) rain, and the sun is coming back.  See the onions are sprouting also.

In the greenhouse, the lettuce seedlings that were just one or two leaves are not much more than that.  Have gotten no other seeds planted, but did buy some good strong lettuce, spinach, kale, bok choi, and pea seedlings.  Yes, for the price of one of those pots of peas could have bought an entire packet!!  Still, did get them into pots in the greenhouse and they seem to be doing okay.

SAD BEE NEWS, think the bees are done for.  Not positive yet.  There was a dramatic reduction in the bee population between the middle of December and the end of January. Was it the quality of the sugar I was using?  Was it disease?  Did the Queen die?  is it a natural population drop for the season?  Suddenly there were VERY few bees.  Of course, the only way to know would be to open the hive and have not done that as I didn’t want to stress out further what might be a small viable population.  Have continued to feed, even though there were only a few bees visible.   Then we had this little spurt of winter storms and there seemed to be nothing happening.  Its supposed to be warm again this weekend, so we’ll see if there are still any there.

There is still much garden clean up to be done from last year, and have to get into strong gopher barricades. 

BUT FIRST, get seeds started this weekend in the greenhouse

Posted in bees, container gardening, gardening, garlic/onions, greenhouse, homesteading, legumes, organic, self-reliance, top bar hive, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

more adventures in canning

Have been neglecting my long term pantry of late.  With the supermarket having sales on canned veggies again, stocked up on some more of those.  Notice a move to the pull off lids, which I’m told are not as conducive to long term storage as they are thinner and, of course, have that “cut” that allows you to just pull of the top!

The same market was having a sale on beef again; buy one get one free.  This amounts to up to a 50% discount in the per lb price if you buy two pieces of the same weight.  Usually they have fatty, grisly cuts, like Cross Rib Roast.  This week they had some eye of round roasts.  Bought two and right now have them cut up in 8 pint jars in the canner.  Know one can use tougher meats, the canning process tenderizes them right up.  but those tougher meats are often fattier too!  these are nice lean pieces.

Am finding that I’m using my ‘new to me’ Presto canner rather than my All American canner.  The Presto is the same diameter, but taller.  It is a gauge canner vs jiggler.  It is also SOOOOO much lighter!  when I saw this one in the thrift did not purchase it right away but did do some research on it and discovered that while the focus is on  using the gauge for measuring pressure, the release jiggler on it is a 15lb jiggler.  Since I can at 15lbs, this works great for me.  The All American has both gauge and jiggler, with the jiggler being the primary measure for pressure, the gauge just a back up.

The other thing is, that All American canner is HEAVY!  Being milled out of a block of aluminum – top and bottom – it requires no gasket.  has impressive bolts for sealing it shut and is about as safe as it can be.  but it is HEAVY!  Not only is the Presto canner lighter to handle – even if it is bigger – it can take a lower heat setting and still keep pressure!

And, if my cut up roast had been more than the 8 pints the canner would hold on one level, could have stacked ‘em up at least another 8 pints if necessary!

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