Why Paper Maps Are Important

September 26, 2019

Wired_RussianMaps_060-new-edit-200x100-e1445899829873I acknowledge we live in the digital age powered by constellations of communication and imagery satellites and am not advocating that this technology be ignored. However, the reality of life on the ground in a pre-combat, combat or post-combat environment may not always lend itself to the easy navigation enabled by 21st century technology. Modern military and civilian life is dependent on Google Maps or other easy GPS powered navigation. Long gone are the days of stopping by the out of town gas station and asking for directions or unfolding the free map from the State Welcome center or even following the AAA Triptik travel planner (for those with a question this is the old school bound travel planner we all followed on our family summer vacations guiding us to the nearest KOA rest stop).

Prague photo by the author


So with all this technology in the palm of our hand or on our wrist why bother with a paper map? The military depends on the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) produced maps normally in 1:50,000 scale topographic maps that we all know and love having learned basic land navigation in basic training. This is great for well know battle spaces such as Germany or Korea but the likelihood of defending the Fulda Gap (again – you might have to look that reference up if you are post Reforger era) operating in foreign places NGA map products might not be available or not available to your unit when you get on the ground. For instance in deploying to Iraq in 2004 as an individual replacement and not part of a parent unit I bought a tourist map off eBay to ensure I had a general idea of where I was, where the friendly borders were and how the road infrastructure was laid out.

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Why bother? The mapping programs we all have depend on radio wave communication and computer processing to translate data into images and information we can use to navigate. With our current focus on Arctic Extreme Cold Weather operations we know that extremely heavy wet snow falling at time can affect reception due to multi-path error, which is the result of satellite signal reflection. Another element of extreme cold weather is the impact on battery life and power drain – your device might not work due to loss of power.

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Another critical area of battle space is in built up urban areas or in extremely hilly or craggy areas – real canyons or “urban canyon” effect where the city buildings block the signal. In this case a topographic map which portrays terrain features in a measurable way, as well as the horizontal positions of features is critical. The vertical positions, or relief, are normally represented by contour lines on military topographic maps. On maps showing relief, the elevations and contours are measured from a specific vertical datum plane, usually mean sea level.

Tourist road maps of a region in which the main means of transportation and areas of interest are shown are a great back up. Some of these maps show secondary networks of roads, historic sites, museums, and beaches in detail. They may contain road and time distance between points. The scale should be carefully considered when using these maps.

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Last, the United states military says in addition to an extreme cold weather battle space, the next war may be fought in mega-cities. (24 Jun 2018 Military.com). The services have begun to plan tactics techniques and procedures for US Army and US Marine combat organizations to fight, not just within cities or industrial locations to include subterranean conflict. Wireless signals that are functional on the surface to make phone calls, send e-mails, or find GPS coordinates don’t do well penetrating through the earth. Signals can be obstructed by concrete, water, metal and rebar found in underground construction. To send a signal through an extensive complex, wireless receivers would be needed in a relay at each bend or turn, obviously not possible during an active operation.

Meredith Broussard who in her book "Artificial Unintelligence

When you prep for an operations in an unknown location a bit of research from Meredith Broussard who in her book “Artificial Unintelligence How Computers Misunderstand the World” presents a guide to understanding the inner workings and outer limits of technology and why we should never assume that computers always get it right. She indicates that a deep knowledge of the geography will help you to navigate it and to understand its culture and history. Further, print maps help acquire deep knowledge faster and more efficiently. In experiments, people who read on paper consistently demonstrate better reading comprehension than people who read the same material on a screen. A 2013 study showed that, as a person’s geographic skill increases, so does their preference for paper maps.

Ms. Broussard says that “reading in print makes it easier for the brain to encode knowledge and to remember things. Sensory cues, like unfolding the complicated folds of a paper map, help create that cognitive map in the brain and help the brain to retain the knowledge.”

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Further “the same is true for a simple practice like tracing out a hiking route on a paper map with your finger. The physical act of moving your arm and feeling the paper under your finger gives your brain haptic and sensorimotor cues that contribute to the formation and retention of the cognitive map.”

For more on this and related topics please find the details at https://www.citylab.com/design/2019/01/paper-maps-digital-navigation-google/581092/

What Exactly is the Berry Amendment?

August 26, 2019

Probably one of the most misunderstood two words associated with textiles and the world of Defense personal protection product development and sales. I can not count how many times I have heard the words “oh this doesn’t apply to the Berry Amendment” (well yes in fact a soft body armor vest does fall under the Berry Amendment law) or “oh yes this does meet the requirement for Berry compliance” (while I look at the manufacturing tag that says “Made in China”). So how about it – questions we are all too afraid to ask because we should know better – what exactly is and isn’t when it comes to the Berry Amendment?


First of all instead of reading marketing literature or talking to well meaning sales and business development people (myself being one), lets go to the actual DPAP  (Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy) which is a program under the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD (A&S)). The Berry Amendment was originally passed by Congress in 1941 to promote the purchase of certain U.S. goods.  The amendment is codified at 10 U.S.C 2533a by section 832 of Public Law 107-107. What this really means in government contracting speak is that the Berry Amendment is required – its not recommended, its not suggested, its not “maybe we should” but its a law with consequences that can involve doors and windows with bars.

For more information on violations and what the Inspector General may have found in 2016 other services is true – potentially over $200 billion in lost manufacturing manufactured overseas instead of in the United States. The Honorable Frank Kendall then Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics at https://www.murphy.senate.gov/download/buy-american-letter.  Interesting reading but that was in 2016 and positive changes have been implemented – but back to Berry.

Here is what Berry means  “the law restricts any funding appropriated or otherwise available to DoD”  first and foremost this is a law which applies to the Department of Defense which means the DOJ, DHS or DOS are not required to comply with this law. They must comply with the Buy American Act (which is likely the second most misunderstood policy associated with personal protection products, uniforms and boots).

To continue “from being used to buy the following end items, components, or materials unless they are wholly of US origin:” so what this means regarding cotton


From polymer to finished product

or wool for instance is the ground that the item grows on, the people who harvest the fibers, the location where that item is processed and turned into a textile item or yarn, the location where that textile is turned into a non-woven, knit or woven material and then finished; the location and people who then cut and sew that end item into a finished good – all have to be American (which includes Puerto Rico).

The details “An article or item of food; clothing; tents, tarpaulins, or covers; cotton and other natural fiber products; woven silk or woven silk blends; spun silk yarn for cartridge cloth; synthetic fabric or coated synthetic fabric (including all textile fibers and yarns that are for use in such fabrics); canvas products, or wool (whether in the form of fiber or yarn or contained in fabrics, materials, or manufactured articles); or any item of individual equipment (Federal Supply Class 8465) manufactured from or containing such fibers, yarns, fabrics, or materials; and hand or measuring tools.”  Whew that is saying a lot.

What this really means is you can’t buy boots from China and change the tags to say JAIL CELL“Made in America” because jail time may be included. For more examples of “can this be really true” see “chief executive officer of Wellco Enterprises, Inc. and its corporate parent Tactical Holdings Operations, Inc., sentenced 41 months in federal prison for defrauding the government”  or review the investigation of Dunlap zippers incorporating a slider — the small tab and attachment that is pulled up and down to open and close a zipper — made in Asia that had very negative consequences.


So its clear that textile base materials that go into clothing and gear (including ballistics, armor and body armor) must be manufactured in the USA.  But what about items that are procured for other partner countries through a FMS process? Do these still have to comply with the Berry Amendment? Yes. FMS funding and other Federal agencies’ funding is being made available to DoD and therefore falls under the Berry Amendment. 4C8A6E1B-14E3-4BCB-ADE1-61744D3643B4And in fact if the DoD provides funding to another agency to buy items, the Berry Amendment applies.

Almost last – often heard in the industry is “oh the Berry Amendment doesn’t apply because the purchase is under SAT.” So lets look at that because this is actually true. The Berry Amendment does not apply if the Government prime contract is below the SAT.   In order to understand what that is we need to go to 2 CFR § 200.88 – Simplified Acquisition threshold.  What SAT is the dollar amount below which organizations may make purchases using small purchase methods. Federal simplified acquisition threshold (formerly known as the federal small purchase threshold) -increased from $150,000 to $250,000. http://acqnotes.com/acqnote/careerfields/simplified-acquisition-procedures-sap   So if your program or purchase is under $250,000 your policy moves from Berry Amendment to Buy American Act for compliance. 

Last – “we have a DNAD so berry doesn’t apply.” Well maybe – a Domestic Non-Availability Determination (DNAD)) is a waiver to the Berry Amendment and can be granted if the Secretary concerned determines that “items grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States cannot be acquired as and when needed in a satisfactory quality and sufficient quantity at U.S. market prices.”  This is not an easy piece of paper to get because the signatures are from one of these four – the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of the Navy or the Secretary of the Air Force – but good luck with that!



Look to Small Business for Innovation

April 8, 2018

4C8A6E1B-14E3-4BCB-ADE1-61744D3643B4.jpegWhy are disruptive innovations produced by small business, outsiders and entrepreneurs, rather than existing Market-leading companies?

Business expectations of market leaders view disruptive innovations as not profitable enough at first and that innovation takes scarce resources away from focus on the core product.

A disruptive process takes longer to develop and has greater risk than selling more of what a company already makes. Large business and market leaders can’t really embrace true disruption or accept that once deployed in the market, innovation has much faster adoption and will take the incumbents market share.

B84BCD97-ADB8-4F46-88E2-7B978A06E921Market leaders publicize they want “innovation “ but in reality their structure, compensation plans and short term expectations don’t allow it. To truly create growth through innovation – find a small business whose business is innovation.

For more insights about creating innovation, market adoption and growth please contact Jdlong@silveroakleafinc.com or send an email through the web at  silveroakleafinc.com


When everything is a priority then nothing is a priority

October 16, 2017

Combo 1

Things I learned in the US Army include life lessons in balancing requirements. When everything is a priority then nothing is a priority. Without priorities the inevitable outcome is often either nothing gets done or on time. We face this reality every day – that is why I always set out what needs to go along with me to work the night before. In the morning if its not ready to go – its not going. But what happens if everything needs to go at the same time? The reality is – its not going to happen so what then?

I found myself in this exact situation the fall of 1995 while conducting a field training exercise out in the hinterlands dispersed somewhere in Germany. the situation was this – in the middle of a complex and geographically separated training event I found myself responsible to ensure that complete logistics were set in place for the next training event. While normally this is expected, in this case I was IMG_2361 near Köln and the next event was near Grafenwöhr approximately 378 km (234.8 miles) distant. What’s the big deal? Just complete support for three area signal support companies, a signal support company and a headquarters company? The task was only hundreds of soldiers and vehicles, the logistics requirement for physical space to occupy and set up communications and motor operations, beds, showers, and toilets required, and dinning facility plans. Creating and locking in a plan with out cell phone or internet connections from 200 plus miles away while certainly doable today, in 1995 was daunting.  In those days Face-to-Face was required.

Ball OrangeThis is where I learning about the juggling ability to “continuously toss into the air and catch (a number of objects) so as to keep at least one in the air while handling the others, typically for the entertainment of others.”  Except in this case there was no entertainment and just your career on the line. Failing as a battalion primary staff office was not an option.  I learned then that life, work, relationships will each direct more requirements at you than you can possible get done at the same time or on time.  The sooner you Type A perfectionists accept this fact the sooner you can get on with managing your requirements.  For me as part of the “Zero Failure” Army culture, I squirmed and stressed like a freight train headed for the cliff Ball Whiterunning out of track! Enter the sage advice or our S-3 Operations Officer, Major Randy Ponder (my eternal thanks and notably absent form this conversation was my boss the Battalion XO; Major Allen Loccino). Thankfully the S3 took pity on a young Captain who he could see was clearly in distress and this is what he taught me.

The Army (and Life) will throw more tasks and situations at you than you will be able to handle. The Army (and presumably Life) knows that you cant get it all done and that is part of the “test” to make sure you learn how to differentiate and prioritize. Tasks and requirements are like the items juggles use and can be thought of as made out of different materials like wood, rubber or glass.  Some you can drop and they will just sort of stay there where you dropped them without big consequences. Some can be dropped for a short period knowing they Ball Yellowwill bounce right back up to be grabbed and put back into the juggle rotation with little harm or notice.  However, some tasks are like glass – if you miss the hand to hand control and these glass balls drop, look out because shattering happens on impact. The key of course is to know and understand which tasks are like which materials?  Take an everyday time consumer: EMAIL. Not all email must be responded to immediately and in fact, most email (especially if your are on the CC: line) are like a solid wood ball – you can drop most of them because nothing is really required but to file for recall later.  Some email are like a rubber ball – you can leave them alone in the received mail for later review. You might even reply back to the sender and ask for additional clarification (thus gaining a bit more time to take the requested action). These emails will get worked eventually. However some email demand response and action – these are the fragile hollow glass balls that have to be acted on.  Broken 1

One of the keys to understanding which tasks are which, is a sub-lesson to learn and guard against. Sometime the tasks you like least are the glass ones. These are the ones you wont be interested or like working on because often  rubber or wooden balls are more fun to work on, less risk of failure or just easy. We spend our time juggling these when in fact we should have been focused on that glass ball that we just missed and shattered. Now we have to sweep it up and suffer pain from the sharp slivers of glass that could have been avoided had we the right focus. We cant keep them all in the air but some we have to.

How did I solve my predicament? I delegated some of the more rubbery and wooden tasks to my logistics staff during the existing field event and then worked out a plan to recon Grafenwöhr with the Headquarters company leadership. We left one activity and drove out and coordinated the Combo 2support necessary for the next. Seems obvious right – except when you are the person responsible you often feel like you “have” to be the one on the scene ready for the issues as they occur.  Sometimes yes – by maybe if your operation is underway, the risk can be low enough to move on to prepping for the next requirement and that is what I did.

So there it is – life is a lot like juggling all the daily requirements we face. They key is to identify them one at a time and decide if this is something I have to do right now or can be  delegated or deferred with acceptable risk? We have to know which are the glass balls and continually focus to ensure they and always up in the air until complete. With a little luck – you wont drop one.

Taking a Walk with Alice on the Appalachia Trail

October 10, 2017

There it is – looming in your mind like a challenge that has to be answered.  the IMG_0945Appalachia Trail (AT) is a trails 2,190 (sort of) miles through 14 states from Georgia to Maine. Oh and if you forgot to calculate the impact to your body: 464,500 feet is the approximate gain and loss in trail elevation. Cant be that bad right? Hard core airborne, air assault, scout platoon leader, combat tour experienced soldier right? Well maybe – but I choose instead to go walking with ALICE which I have had an intimate relationship since 1988 across long distances, long plane rides, long tank rides throughout Korea, from Germany to Bosnia and throughout Central America.  ALICE and I rode together in Iraq and I carried her sister MOLLE in Afghanistan.  However, I was about to find out that she might not be the best partner to walk with on the AT.

IMG_0949Weighing in at 8 pounds, the Army standard since the Vietnam War, the ALICE Large Combat Field Pack was designed to handle large and heavy loads of ammunition and water from 50  to 70 lbs maximizing “personal comfort and mobility.”  It is designed for soldiers to carry fighting or existence loads and equipment needed for various field conditions. Compared to modern lightweight day packs at about 2 pounds or less (no frame of course) ALICE is a charmer for sure and unique choice on the trail as I found out!

The AT unlike the Pacific Crest Trail is unique in terms of the amount of loose rock and nearly vertical climbs and then steep descents. Walking on rock as opposed to sand, light gravel or pine needles is a completely different terrain.  The other planning item of note is your expectations?  Are you a day hiker, weekend or a thru hiker.  Doesn’t really matter because you don’t need the ability toIMG_0955 really pack for an “outback” experience which the 2,800 cube inches storage ALICE gives you.  If you are moving towards an objective with 3 days supplies and the expectation of a firefight then yes ALICE is your girl. However, while some particular stretches of the AT might be remote outback hiking, most of the trail (at least the beginning states) are usually pretty close to some road or town along the way were you can get off the trail, catch a ride and find someplace to recover.

Now this isn’t to say that you cant get badly hurt on the AT and you should be prepared, but I ‘ think entrenching tools, hatchets, full steel propane canisters, pots and pans or extra clothing are not required.  On the AT lighter is better – oh and a good map reconnaissance to ensure you know your daily hike lengths, where the shelters and a where to locate water.

So will I continue to bring ALICE along for my section hike on my next leg?  For me yes because I am comfortable with the frame and strap set up – however, I will calculate the trail length and details. My next section will focus on Blood Mountain adjacent to Slaughter Creek/AT/Jarrard Gap. From the http://www.georgiatrails.com/gt/at_woody_gap_to_neels_gap website, I found a reference to when the Cherokee Indians first began to migrate to Georgia a battle took place here, hence the name Slaughter Gap. Other geographical names (Blood and Slaughter Mountain) in the area were related to this battle. “A 1951 archaeological expedition found evidence of both Creek and Cherokee Indians in the gap, however, they could not determine the extent of the conflict or even estimate a date.”

The next section hike is planned as Woody gap over Blood Mountain to Neels gap as a distance of 10.6 miles but with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet.  This section hike reaches the Blood Mountain summit climbing 1400 feet elevation to 4459 feet, the Blood Mountain is the Appalachian Trail’s highest-elevation ascent in Georgia. Good time ahead especially during the late fall time period! Don’t forget to bring coffee!



Overcoming Barriers: What I Learned in the Army

August 21, 2017

Barriers – we all face them. As a manager and everyday person we all face challenges in getting what we need or want to get accomplished.  Whether you call them hidden doorbarriers, obstacles, obstructions, hurdles, a stumbling block, being  blocked, impeded, hindered, or just simply facing a response of “NO!”  Something as simple as providing direction to a co-worker such as “make an appointment with  such and such person” results in many cases a first response back “I couldn’t reach them.”  And then the matter is returned to you the manager.  To me it really doesn’t matter if this is the initial response or one of a dozen different excuses (which may be true) as to why we couldn’t make the appointment or get the task accomplished.

This discussion here is to share a training method called the “chair” I created while as the Battalion Logistics Office (S4) in Germany and working with more junior personnel. In this role I was constantly asked to take on and solve other peoples problem because I was the “leader.”  Well being the leader doesn’t mean you solve all the problems, just the ones that seems to be more difficult (even then a group approach usually works better).

social-mediaSo here is how it works. A chair is usually available in most situations to use as a training aide. Lets say you assign a task for a co-worker to get in touch with a certain person to either provide needed information or to gain needed information. Your co-worker assigned the task goes out and then comes back to update you that “no,” in fact they did not get in touch with said person. So now the discussion begins – “why didn’t you get in touch with said person?” Possible responses although not limited to include:

  • Person was not in the office
  • person did not answer the phone
  • Person was in the office but didn’t want to talk to me
  • Person didn’t return my email, tweet, snapchat, instagram, facebook message.
  • I couldn’t find their office
  • They moved their office
  • Their office was closed

Well, you get the picture – there are a thousand and one excuses – I mean reasons why the task or any task was not accomplished. Its usually at this point the co-worked comes back to report and pass the task back to the leader for resolution.  Oh not so fast!

Here is the beauty of this simple technique.  Begin by asking the follow on questions telephoneto the excuse (insert excuse here) they lead with.  For instance, “person was not in.”  Question; “did you seek to speak with some one else, did you ask when the primary person would return, did you leave a message that you need to see them and would return at a specific time, did you get their cell phone number, did you ask where they were at this time?” These questions will normally result in your co-worker going back out to seek the resolution to these  questions.

NoUTurnNext – when you coworker come back again and indicates they still could not complete the task , you again ask why (in no case do not  as the leader accept responsibility to “just do it myself”).  This time the responses to failure might be something about the office or the phone or no-one there.  So this time you ask about who was in the office, you ask about email, you ask about telephone contact, you ask about alternative points of contact. Here is where the chair comes in.

wall ladderAs you are discussing the task reference a chair.  In this case explain that overcoming barriers is a lot like getting past a chair. The chair is the barrier to getting to your task completed.  In discussing the challenge your co-worker usually approaches the task straight ahead. I usually then ask if following their initial repulse, did they try another approach? In this case I ask if the co-worker tried to go to the left of the chair; if not then I suggest that they first try another path. If this path is not viable then I recommend trying to go around to the alternative side.  If in this case the co-worker is not successful, they should then try to go under the proverbial chair or in this case to go over the chair. 

chair 3 The bottom line is that until the co-worker has tried to go to the left, to the right, over the top and under the obstacle, then I ask the co-worker to not come back to me and tell me they cannot accomplish the task.  This is their task to accomplish not mine, when they have exhausted all alternatives, then come back and lets talk about it.  Normally, by this point the co-worker has figured out a way to accomplish the task themselves. In the future the co-worker will have more confidence to solve problems instead of coming back to the leader after their first rejection. 




The Bee Keeper Next Door

August 16, 2017
Week 1a

Week 1; photo Jonathan Long

Excerpts from a recent interview with Creative Consultant & Director of the Magazine @NutsandLemons; Michelle Niellose. I want to thank Michelle for the excellent provocation to provide some insights into “The Bee Keeper Next Door.”


How did I get started? I have always been intrigued with gardens and growing things since a little boy. Growing up in Oregon, a neighbor had a small farm including honey bees. I remember getting a mason jar filled with honey and comb and thinking that was the greatest thing in the world. Later on in school, one of my favorite characters from the JKK Tolkien book “The Hobbit” was a bee keeper named Beorn and I really


image created by the Brothers Hildebrandt

thought he was a cool character because he was ferocious but at the same time mellow. As I gained additional experiences, I really like the idea of growing and producing some of my own food or at least understanding the process. While living in Germany I feel in love with the whole idea of developing a vineyard and the wine making process but the realities of military life were a barrier to really exploring that idea. Once I retired from active military service I decided I would make time to become a bee keeper – that I could do.

What should a person do if they want to become a “bee keeper?” The decision to start keeping honey bees should not be taken lightly because after all, these are living things. When you first start out you will be contacting a local bee keeping to purchase bees and  “hiving” a box of bees into a new hive (and you

Install 7

Package of Bees; photo Jonathan Long

really should have two hives for several good reasons). A three pound box of bees includes one queen and about 10,000 bees so you will be caring for about 20,000 bees initially. This number will grow at the height of summer to about 50,000 bees, so that’s a lot of buzzing going on. Most of the time, the majority of these inhabitants will be in the bee hive so you won’t really see that many at one time. The first thing to do is read a book or three on beginning bee keeping and look for a local bee keepers association to take a class.  That is your first step – its best to take a class over the winter because then you have time to order your bees, order and prepare your hive boxes (referred to as a “deep”) and pick out your location.


How does a person determine if becoming a “bee keeper” is right for them? One of the keep factors to consider first if you have the

Install 17

Initial Deep + Feeder; photo Jonathan Long

necessary room for a bee hive (the two can sit right next to each other without any problem). You don’t have to live in the country to keep bees as there is a whole sub-culture dedicated to roof top – city bee keeping – that’s not the issue. Other humans are the issue. In planning your location called the “bee yard’ you have to consider two things: (1) how close is the location to your and your neighbors outside living area?  If within 100 feet or less of where you or  neighbors occupy outside spaces, probably too close. Now this is not because the bee’s will seek you out (they won’t – they don’t care) but you could be in their flight path to where ever they go on a daily basis (water sources included). This is related to the next item (2).  Position the bee yard in relation to sunrise and the suns path of travel during the day.  The hive opening should face South East (SE) cardinal direction.  This is so the sun most quickly warms up the hives entrance and gets things going (any day with a temperature over 60 degrees F will enable a Queen to lay).  If structures or dense trees don’t allow a somewhat clear path to the SE then you have a challenge.


What are the general guidelines for the maintenance of hives and when to harvest? Lets back up a bit – before you can maintain a hive you have to decide on hive styles, source and purchase. Your local bee keepers association can help and there are several great companies such as Brushy Mountain or Pigeon Mountain that can provide you supplies.


Centrifuge Extraction; Photo Jonathan Long

Once you decide what style of hive, you then need to treat and protect the wooden hive bodies with either stain or paint. I added a small Decoupage image, again from the Tolkien works (art by the Brothers Hildebrandt) to each box which helps the bee distinguish which hive is theirs.  However, this is not necessary and they will focus in on the wood grain or another feature or the Queens pheromone to figure out where to go. The you have to plan on when your boxed bees arrive and when to hive them which sets up your new bee hives with their occupants. So there is a lot to talk about here with feeding and caring for a new colony but what I like it’s really just once a week that a bee keeper needs to go into the hive to look around. If you start out with a super strong hive you may be able to harvest the first year but really the second year is more reasonable – and then it’s usually the first week in July to pull the honey supers off which is where the bees store that portion of their work that can be harvested without damaging the hive.




Fresh Honey Comb; photo Jonathan Long

What can you create with “honey bee” products at home? Well obviously the first product is pure “organic” wild flower honey. Now a word about truth in labeling – unless you live in the middle of a wilderness without any other humans around for 50 miles your honey is not 100% organic because its likely there are some forms of federalization or husbands going on but our intent it’s pretty much organic because there is no chemical or heat treatment – it come from the hive and comb into the jar. Second – again unless your bees are in the middle of a fifty acres clover field or a 20 acre orange grove, your honey will have mixed pollen and nectar from lots of different plants. So in this case its most likely “wild flower” honey. In my case we have made shaving cream, soap, ice cream, whip cream, cocktails and liquors all with home grown honey.


Important “do’s and Don’ts.” (1) can’t be in a hurry – everything to do with keeping bees is slow and steady; (2) always use a natural fuel when creating smoke to calm the


Smoker; photo Jonathan Long

bees in the hive – you don’t want chemical gases from plastics to injury your occupants; (3) take time to hang out in the bee yard and just watch the bees come and go – you will be amazed at the little door step hive entrance dances that going on or mini battle between guard bees and infiltrators and even the cold hard reality or when members of the hive have completed their life span and are removed from the hive to tumble lifeless in from of the colony. Each hive is its own operating environment unto its self.  The colony somehow together makes all the decisions, not the Queen; from when to raise female workers to male drones to even when a new Queen should be raised.  Take time to watch and you will be amazed.


Are there certain flowers that can be grown in a “bee keepers” garden that are popular with bees? Anything that has heavy pollen like sun flowers, butterfly bush, or lots of sweet nectar like honey suckle or gardenias (all in my backyard). There are lots of reference guides to help an aspiring bee keeping plant attractive and beneficial plants around the yard.

Does the type of flower affect the honey and or wax? So short answer is yes as mentioned before with regard to Clover Honey, or Apple Blossom Honey or Orange Blossom Honey. These will all impart a different level of sweetness but that not the thing


Italian Honey Bee; photo Jonathan Long

for me – I think its really the trees around your bee yard and the pollen that they produce that creates a bigger impact. It’s the pollen that helps develop resistance to allergies and I think it’s the pollen that imparts so much of the distinction and character to the honey. The honey’s color will be directly impacted by the tree pollen the bees eat (bees live on both pollen and honey – the honey comes from the nectar).  So honey from a heavy pine forest will be different than honey from oak, beech and ash. Honey from sourwood is defiantly prized for its distinct taste (therefore the expense).


Conclusion – keeping bees is just that, you don’t really raise bees – they raise themselves but they do better when a bee keeper looks after them.  In the end it’s a somewhat symbiotic relationship; we give them a safe a secure home and feed them when they


Bee Yard; photo Jonathan Long

need it – they provide us with excess production of their honey.  The other cool thing about being a bee keeper is our actual contribution to the world. A lot of people talk about social issues or the environment but by keeping bees a person has a direct and first hand impact on making the world a better place. I have read that cross-pollination by bees helps at least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of our wild plants to thrive. I believe pretty much that without the help of honey bees, many plant species —including food crops—would die off. I understand that about 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean phytoplankton but the other 50% comes from photosynthesis on land (trees, shrubs, grasses, plants). So if blending environmental causes, helping make the world a better place, and enjoying the sweet output of honey bees is your thing, then bee keeping might be a great fit.


INVISTA CORDURA® Fabrics for Defense IDEX 2017

February 9, 2017

From Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India, INVISTA CORDURA® Fabric known as a leading fabric brand for militaries across the globe will show latest fabrics for military gear and apparel at IDEX 2017. IDEX is the international defense exhibition and conference for unmanned systems and technologies and takes place February 19 to 23, 2017, within the Abu Dhabi national exhibition center, in UAE.idex-2017

New hardwearing and versatile soldier systems fabric technologies will be displayed at the CORDURA® Fabric  booth in Hall 7, booth A02 and include:

  •  Fabrics featuring the new patent-pending CORDURA® Fabric qualifying INVISTA T420HT fiber
  • Solution Dyed Nylon (SDN) technologies with built-in NIR/SWIR reflectance capabilities
  • FR (flame retardant)-coated CORDURA® Fabric polyamides for protective vests
  • lightweight comfort CORDURA® Fabric Nyco Tactical uniform fabric


First in a suite of many product improvements for 2017 and targeting next generation durable uniform fabrics, the new T420HT is a state-of-the-art, patent-pending high tenacity staple fibre. For the complete details please see http://www.technicaltextile.net/news/cordura-to-show-fabrics-for-defence-at-idex-2017-expo-204001.html

From the CORDURA® Fabric website at http://www.cordura.com the company for nearly 50 years, been driving military textile innovation with performance solutions featured in both fabrics and webbings used extensively in combat gear, such as CORDURA® Fabric SDN yarn technology. These solutions are suitable for use in load carriage equipment, boots, body armor covers, knee/elbow pads, and other similar tactical gear.  http://www.cordura.com/en/press-releases/news_cordura_announces_durable_fiber_breakthrough.html

US Defense Bill to Supports Made in USA

February 9, 2017

Fabric rolls IDEX.jpgFrom the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO),which represents domestic textile manufacturers, the Senate’s 92-7 vote to pass Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) according to NCTO President & CEO Auggie Tantillo is “a good bill.”  Tantillo says of the bill “It supports American troops, strengthens our national security, and includes many provisions important to the US textile industry.”

The Department of Defense (DOD) sourced roughly $1.5 billion (USD) in textiles and clothing in 2016. Textiles fall under the buy-American procurement provision known as the Berry Amendment. The Berry Amendment (10 U.S.C. 2533a) requires the Department of Defense to buy textiles and clothing made with 100% United States content and labor.

berry-amendment-berry-compliant-bootsThe FY 2017 NDAA conference report reflects several other positive outcomes for the US based textiles industry. (1) no increase to the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). Procurements in excess of the SAT require compliance with the Berry Amendment. The SAT level is $ 150,000. If the SAT threshold were increased, contracts might be awarded to international bidders and a lose for US industry. (2) the athletic footwear voucher program that has been in place for decades ended. Now the works begins to ensure all athletic footwear purchased by DoD is Berry-compliant. (3) DoD and the State Department procurement officials have been directed to provide key congressional defense and foreign relations committees updates on how each department is making efforts to ensure US manufacturers are aware of procurement opportunities relating equipping foreign security forces. Information source: http://www.ncto.org

For the complete details please visit http://www.innovationintextiles.com/industry-talk/new-us-defence-bill-to-support-made-in-usa-products/utm_content=47764882&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin#sthash.8yKW5WZO.dpuf

For Fifty Years

February 7, 2017

idex-navexAttending the IDEX 2017 UAE military trade show and conference?  If so please make time to visit us in Hall 7 and booth A02. Until then the latest press release is available at the IDEX website http://www.idexuae.ae/exhibitors/invista?azletter=I the highlighting INVISTA and the CORDURA® brand.

pack“For fifty years the CORDURA® brand has been innovating durable and reliable fabrics for military gear using nylon 6,6 fiber technologies. Technologically advanced and extremely durable, CORDURA® fabrics stand up to the rigorous physical demands of the military life as well as provide protection from the elements. CORDURA® fabrics cover nearly everything in a soldier’s arsenal where enhanced durability is required. The fabrics are designed to deliver tensile strength, tear strength and abrasion resistance in footwear, apparel and packs to maximize servicemen’s survivability, mobility, combat effectiveness and field quality of life.”


Photo Credit by Jonathan Long

The CORDURA® brand portfolio features hardwearing and versatile fabric technologies designed to be the soldier’s first line of defense in ballistic vests, boots, parachute containers, recon packs, hydration systems, knee pads and more.



INVISTA Textiles UK Ltd
Ermin Street
United Kingdom