The books never discuss this aspect of beekeeping do they? I doubt it will last forever but while they're interested I'm going to enjoy these hours with them.
It sounds like you might have established three generations of beekeepers. Were you the first in your family or did you start with one of your parents?
Actually we can trace the beekeeping history in family back to my Greatgreat grandfather who brought black german bees with him from Germany to Pennsylvania when he immigrated in the 1800's. So that makes 9 generations now with my daughter and grandchildren.
What did you tell Mike and Donna about me? After we hived my 2 packages we inspected my other 3 hives and found that the queen from the split must have been lost during mating flights. I call up Cedar Glen to check if they still had a few queens and to see if they found my cane I left there...getting old and forgetful.
Went down Monday evening to pickup the queen and was treated like Royalty. Everybody knew my name and were gland to see me. I'm not used to being treated like that...usually I'm overlooked and underestimated at gatherings.
I spent over an hour their, they showed my their entire opporation, plans for expantion ( new building for showroom to be built over the winter for next spring), new unfinished store house (full already) and their bee yard. He gave me some old reversable bottom boards (10 frame) he no longer uses that i can modify into tops for my operation, a couple of slatted racks (also 10 frame) at no charge. I did buy some tops with ladders for my frame feeders.
The use of carboard boxes to which they drill 4 openings with a door lock drill and then cover by gluing #8 screen over the holes to use as shipping boxes was a nice inovation. It removes the bees from possible direct contact with personnel during shipping. It exceeds the Post Office's shipping requirements and make it possible for them to ship packaged bees via UPS or FedEx.
The crown jewel of the visit was a demonstration (without bees) of his Queen Castle he's designed and built. It is the most veristile 4-way queen castle I've every seen. We spent a good deal of time exploring the possiblities of this design. One of his employees, and me, advised him to apply for a patent on his inovations and changes. This peice of equipment would make a good center piece to any bee yard. I asked him how much he would charge me for one using medium frames instead of deep, the price he quoted wouldn't even pay for the materials and I told him so. I told him what I thought it was worth. But he is making me the 2nd one ever to be made. I hope to write an article about Mike Cook's Queen Castle for either ABJ or BC.
The one draw back is that the operation still spills out into and down the driveway but with the planned new building that will be taken care of.