Category: Off topic

Summer 2010 BBQ

By way of apology for any inconvenience while we closed tech support down for a Saturday afternoon, I’m sharing some pics from our recent BBQ.  You can find the full gallery of pics here.

Summer honey harvest

Honey flows from the centrifugal extractor

Honey flows from the centrifugal extractor

My three hives did pretty well this year, and I have harvested about thirty pounds of honey for the summer. Thanks much to Phil at Flying Goat for bringing over his extractor, and to Kim Dow and Greg Fisher for doing the sticky work.

It’s great to see (and eat!) the beautiful local product that these hard working and useful insects do.

Spring swarm capture

I’ve added two swarms to my apiary this season. With the two (out of three) hives which survived the winter, I’ve got a total of four hives up and running now. They are doing well in West Sonoma County. The most recent swarm was at an apartment complex in Santa Rosa, about fifteen feet high on branch.’s bucket truck made it a quick and easy job to put them in a swarm box for transport.

You’ve got to have a hobby, right?

Here’s a post that isn’t related to work. I do manage some extracurricular activities in my spare time!

We harvested honey a couple months ago from all three of our hives. All three were captured swarms, including one we captured from a redwood tree earlier this year. We managed about three gallons of honey, roughly 35 pounds. Not a bad harvest considering the dry weather that we had this year.

Here are some photos of the harvest and bottling. Unfortunately, since these pictures were taken, one of the three hives has failed, perhaps due to colony collapse disorder. I hope that the other two manage through the winter.

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More bees!

As I’ve written previously, I keep bees. Yesterday I got a call from Oak Grove Elementary School in Graton about a swarm of bees in one of their trees. The nice folks at Beekind referred them because has a bucket truck which I can borrow, so we can reach swarms which have settled high in a tree.

I’ve captured two swarms already this season, and have three hives running now, and that’s about as many as I want to manage. So, I called my friends John and Chris Mason at Emtu Wines. They lost both of their hives last winter, presumably to colony collapse.

I sent John up in the bucket this time, while Chris and I observed from below. The swarm wasn’t nearly as large as the one from Occidental, perhaps three pounds of bees, about 10,000. Boxed up and away they went, into one of the empty Emtu hives. Hopefully the bees will be successful there, and none of the elementary school kids will risk anaphylaxis.

Other uses for wireless equipment: Bee swarm capture

I’ve got a few hobbies which are not related to the Internet business. One of them is beekeeping, and I had a lot of fun taking care of my two hives last year. The bees are so dedicated and interesting to watch, and the honey is great.

Like many beekeepers, I suffered losses and only one of my hives survived the winter. As a result, I’m on the lookout for bees.

It’s swarming season for the bees right now. This is the time when a healthy but overcrowded hive will split, and a group of about 10,000 bees join the outgoing queen and depart the hive. They cluster somewhere while scout bees seek out a new home. Then, once a bee quorum is archived, they all move to their new home. Generally this takes a day or so, during which time beekeepers can box up the whole group and put them in a cozy new hive.

I got a call this afternoon about a swarm that was very high upin a redwood tree. My coworker Kelsey and I had captured a swarm last week from a bush – shoulder height, just off a trail, it was really quite easy. But, the height at which this swarm had settled in the redwood tree made it sound like a real challenge.

Thankfully, our bucket truck hasn’t got much to do these days. Normally it’s used to install Wi-Fi, but I put it to another use. At the full extension of the boom, we had to put a rope over the branch to draw it down. Thanks to Katia at BeeKind in Sebastopol for the idea.

Tomorrow evening, the bees will be moved into the home I am giving them, a nice cozy new hive box located next to my other two in Forestville.

If you find a bee swarm, don’t panic. Swarming season is when bees are generally best behaved. Don’t disturb them, and they are not likely to sting you. Consult your local beekeeping association for a list of people who may be able to pick up a swarm. Locally, that would be the Sonoma County Beekeeping Association.

Things to do on a lazy Sunday: Stop Junk Mail!

Junk postal mail has a big impact on the environment, particularly catalogs. They’re also a nuisance and a distraction. Reducing recurring junk postal mail is easy, and the time invested pays big dividends. There are quick and easy ways to reduce your mail flow. Here are resources to get you started:

Step one: Remove your name from specific catalog lists at no charge by using Or, phone the toll free number printed in each catalog and request removal. Once you’ve registered with CatalogChoice, it’s easy to add catalogs as they arrive. (edit: Per this article, it seems that the Direct Marketing Association has instructed it’s members to ignore CatalogChoice. That stinks.)


Step two: The Direct Marketing Association is the largest provider of direct mail lists. The DMA’s mail preference service lets you opt out. Visit to register. The only catch: you must provide a credit card number to validate that you’re real. The DMA is as reputable an organization as bulk mailers can be, and it should be fine to give them this data. You can also register by mail for a $1 fee. The DMA will also remove you from some email SPAM lists via their email preference registration service.


Step three: Opt out of credit card offers. Visit to register. This site is run by the four major credit reporting entities, and allows you to get rid of those annoying “you’ve been approved for a new card” offers. You will need to provide personal data, including your SSN to opt out. Again, these four are the keepers of SSN credit info, so it’s as safe as possible. If you prefer, you can also do this by phone by calling 1-888-567-8688.

Do Not Call

Step four: Get your number off telemarketing lists. Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) popular National Do Not Call Registry allows you to stop telemarketers. Certain fund raising calls are still allowed, for example non-profits and political groups. All telemarketers are required to stop calling 31 days after you register your numbers. Visit to register. You can learn more about the registry in the FAQ here.


Step five: Call Publishers Clearinghouse and tell them that you do NOT want to be a winner! 1-800-645-9242. I suppose this choice could cost you millions, but the odds are that it won’t.


Step six: Call ValPak Coupons and ask them to take you off their list. Unless you like those annoying little blue envelopes. 1-800-237-6266.


Step seven: Advo/Valassis provides a web form that you can use to stop the Advo mailer. This is the big bundle of color newsprint materials that really clutters up your mailbox, along with the white postcard with the blue text which tells the post office where to deliver it.

Penny Saver

Step eight: Call or write to Harte Hanks if you’re getting their “Penny Saver” circular. They can be reached at 1-800-422-4116. Unfortunately, they don’t accept requests via the web, so you can either call them or visit their site to obtain their postal address and send them a letter.

Bank Card

Step nine: When you do business with companies, tell them not to sell your information! In particular, make note when your bank sends you information about their privacy and opt-out policy. You may need to fill out a form to ask them not to sell your financial information! (To answer the obvious question, no, of course never shares customer information with anyone!)

It takes three or four months for the flow of junk to slow to a trickle. I hope this info helps you reduce the clutter in your real world inbox.