And Spring...Perhaps?

Going to be different this year.  Waiting on FSA to get the tillable land into CRP.  They are way behind I guess, with lots of folks making this move.  At any rate, I am looking forward to finding out how we are to manage the land now.

We intend to put a few hives of bees in the back of the N. pasture.  There is a good spot there, protected from the North and with good Southern exposure.  There is water available within 150 yards or so on either side of the hives.  Lots of maple around too, along with all the plants that one finds in rolling pastures in the driftless area.

We also intend to start with three acres of pollinator plants on the South side of the hives.  The hives will be a good quarter mile from any tillable land, and thus we are hoping that the inevitable over-spray from neighboring farms where they will be applying the annual Round-Up burn-down, followed by seed and fertilizer, followed by .... yeah.. .  Well, we hope the days are not too windy when application time comes.  One hopes....

I have done a lot of research this winter.  Not only on honey bees, but other pollinators as well.  That having been said, there has been and continues to bee a lot of learning going on.  Much of it in academia, and much more by bee keepers from all over who blog or post information on Google+ or whatever.

Stillwater MN has a Bee Club with lots of good folk who are very engaged.  Stillwater is a bit of a haul for me, so I have only made it to one meeting.  However, their club does a nice job in keeping folks up to date via their Google Group.  They keep a blog here too ->  http://www.honeybeeclubofstillwater.blogspot.com/

So: Will be starting out with three Langstroth 10 frame hives each with a three pound package of bees this spring.  More on that later as the time nears...

I have been working with embedded systems based on Raspberry Pi and Arduino since last summer.  Part of what I wish to accomplish is to closely monitor bee hive health and bee activity.  The hives are a good half mile back from the farm buildings, which means that there are some challenges when it comes to getting data from the hives back to where the data can be analysed and used.  That leads to the second challenge: Power.

So my winter has been spent poring over small wind generators, solar panels, battery specs and on and on.  I have identified what will probably be the communication mechanism (XBee).  I know what sensors I will use in and around the hives.  I know which controller board I will be using.  ...that power thing though... that is a bit harder to nail down.  I know what I want, but finding the components to make it all work right is still a work in progress.

This should be fun I think!!