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Honey House Inspection

Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 16:42:00 GMT
From: Andy Nachbaur
Subject: honey house inspection

>Andy mentioned that portable honey extractors are no longer
>legal. Is this state law somewhere? I live in NY where I have never
>heard such a thing. The New Jersey State Inspector once told me
>that he would use a portable extracting trailer if he was keeping a
>large number of bees. The model I have been working on for a
>larger operation seemed to show extraction at the yard would be
>more economical.

Hi Xxx,

NO, I did not mean to say PORTABLE HONEY EXTRACTORS were no longer legal, being long in the tooth I did not tell the whole story.

The rest of the story is that in the mid 50′s the men in the dress suits, suspenders, tie’s and low top shoe’s from Washington DC’s, Pure Food and Drug descended on the California beekeeping industry. The beekeeper’s had never seen this kind of interest before and being the good citizen’s that they were took everything they were told as being the Gospel. They were intimated into abandoning their old way’s by veiled threat’s of the Federal Government closing them down and within a few years, one year in our case, all portable extracting of honey in California was stopped. We remodeled half of a diary barn and moved inside the next year. We only learned later that this was all smoke an mirrors from the federal government but they had the cooperation of the state government but no law’s were passed or existed at that time.

We were shafted…by our own lack of experience and good will we had with our regulators. That did not last long after that as shortly pesticides became a BIG problem and you all should know what side the bee regulator’s came down on and the troubles we had and to some degree still have. I have always’s believed that if we had stayed in the field the pesticide issue would have been resolved a lot faster with the exposure of both beekeeper’s and his honey in the field. I am sure thank God most of you have never actually been sprayed while at work, but most commercial beekeeper’s have at one time or another. I won’t say much about that, but someday I will.

My remembrance of the last year extracting in the field. A few years before I was still going to school and was first hired in my 2nd year of high school. I had already got my first hive of bee’s from Sear’s and Roebuck and my school bus drove pass a big yard of bee’s on the way home from school each day, and I would stare with amazement as we passed. One day I got lucky and someone was there working the bee’s, I had the school bus driver stop and let me out. He was my neighbor and also a high school student and in those day’s these thing’s could be arranged between two friends. I walked over and started up a
conversation with the old beekeeper who was inspecting the bee’s. I stood my ground and took a few stings, this impressed the old beekeeper just lucky I did not have my boot’s on or I would have had to cut them off that night, and we became friends and that summer I had my first and only job as an apprentice beekeeper to the Flory family beekeeper’s all.

Thirty five dollars a week and room and board. I had a model A Ford Ranch Wagon flat bed pick up truck, paid $20 for it and had to buy a battery. It was an old Pacific Telephone and Telegraph truck, I sold it for $35 years later. Believe it or not I saved money then, and not only became a beeman in the bee yards but enjoyed every minute of it.

At the time many California beekeepers, including the beekeeping family I was doing my apprenticeship with were still extracting in the field. We had a old Morland Truck with a wonderful extracting set up, custom built in a black smith shop. Steam heat, a 8 frame tangential extractor, honey tank under the floor between the truck frame, metal floors for easy clean up. It was ideal and had served the cause for many years without any problem, with two man in the extracting van and two or more in the bee’s. I started as a swamper or beekeeper louse and carried the full supers to the van taken off by the beekeepers using carbolic acid pads and the old bee brush. In those day’s a beekeeper had his smoker held between his legs, and both a hive tool and bee brush in his hands. Each beekeeper also had a open 5 gal can of water to clean his tools and hands as needed and for quick relief from the occasional bee sting on the fingers. Oh, how good that water felt when one nasty bee would stick it to you, especially under the nail, wooow I can still feel it. It was not macho to run, many time’s at first I wanted to, but soon it became just a small annoyance and almost something to be proud of at the end of the day, all those little pin pricks in the end’s of your finger’s.

The swamper opened the hives, smoked the bee’s down and moved the pads. He also helped move the honey to the extracting van after the beekeeper’s took it off the hives, and put the extracted combs back on the hives. Our frames were not self spacing and had to be spaced. We use 8 in a 10 frame hive so the combs would be FAT and easy to uncap with the steam heated hand knife.

We normally did one yard of 96 hives per day, and most of the time averaged 50-60 lbs of honey per hive per extracting. The process was slow and labor intensive, but at the end of the day we had the honey and the bee’s were all equalized as we also extracted the honey from the bottoms and any heavy honey around the sealed brood putting the brood back into the hives that needed it and giving the queens empty combs to lay in. We extracted each yard every 30 day’s during the summer. The Flory family had about 2500 hives at the time and this supported four families in the upper middle class of today. Most of the honey was worth about ten cents a pound, and seldom would a beekeeper get all his money at the time of sale, usually within 6 months to a year. This family had a 30 year average of 100 lbs per hive and several time’s that in a good year. Two year’s that I know of they did not extract and took other jobs like picking fruit and working in the canneries. We had more good year’s then bad, 15 years in a row they got average or better wild flower crops. I will never forget this one year that the honey flow was so intense that the first hive’s we took the honey off in the morning would be filled back up by the end of the day
and all the bee’s would be hanging out side trying to get in. Sometime’s they would build comb on the out side of the hives and under the hive if the bottom board had a crack in it they could get through. In those day’s we did not have a lot of supers and three stories were about as tall as our bee’s ever got and then we would have a few flats to do that. All our top’s and bottoms were made of full width clear redwood from local mills long gone, and many of our hive bodies were made of pine from WW II gas mask boxes, as good or better then the best pine you can buy today. Our frames were made 3/4 inch all around and had one steel rod to reinforce them between the top and bottom and were wired vertically for pure bees wax foundation or starter strips.

We wasted not and even saved the tissue paper from between the foundation that the woman made into paper flowers that decorated a
float on the back of a bee truck that won a 1st prize and some real money in those days in one of the big 4th of July parades held at
Hollister, and Salinas, California.

There’s more, but I know you are busy and sorry that I gave you the wrong idea about law’s and portable honey houses.

ttul Andy-

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