Rich Slack

Putting the Bees in my Hive

Last Saturday I was able to bring my bee packages home from Knight’s Honey.  They used Bee-Bus packages this year which are made from recycled bags.  They are very cool and you simply recycle them when you are done.

Here is a video of me loading the hives with the bees.  I installed two 3 lb packages of bees into my hives.  This video is the second hive I loaded.  Some have asked if I had any hand protection. I did not.  I read some posts that said when loading the hives the bees are typically not aggressive so it is good to be able to feel what you are doing.  I did get one sting on the hand during my first hive, but it was a quick sting and not painful.  Overall, I thought I would be more nervous but I was actually very calm and it was a very cool experience.

After installing the hives I wanted to add stands underneath the hives so I went out with my son Porter late at night and taped up all the exits and then mounted them on the bee stand (seen below). I was nervous about that experience since we were lifting the whole hive and I didn’t want to scare the bees away, but we did a good job and we never even saw one bee.  It worked awesome.  Here is a picture of our beehives on the stands.

Being six days in, it appears my bees have taken to their hives.  I will inspect them using smoke tomorrow afternoon to make sure the queens are out and laying eggs.  This is going to be a lot of fun. I will take a video checking the bees and using the smoker tomorrow.

Beekeeping Classes Update

So I attended a two night beekeeping course that was given by Knight Family Honey. After attending the class I feel much more prepared to take on beekeeping. Their information was very informative. They taught us how to check the hive, when to check the hive, what we are looking for, and what to do about what we saw. They also covered when to add more brood boxes and honey boxes to the frame.

I now understand a little more why some bee keepers are hesitant to accept HoneyFlow frames as a reality. For one they are worried that people will think they can simply stick a beehive in their yard and never look at the bees again and never have to touch the hive. They think people will get the wrong impression of beekeeping and simply think you can just show up and steal the honey from the bees. But in reality there is some more steps that need to be taken to make sure your bees thrive through the season.

One thing I read about earlier, but had forgotten, is that in Utah with the cold winters I actually need to have two brood boxes available for the bees so they can make it through our colder winters. The hive that comes from FlowHive only had two deep boxes, one for the brood and one for the honey. If I hadn’t taken the classes or taken the time to read additional books I would have fulfilled the bee keepers prediction of an uneducated group of beehavers instead of beekeepers. I.e. one who simply has bees vs one who learns and cares for the bees. In FlowHives defense they are telling everyone to get educated and they are hosting free classes that are well done on YouTube.

After taking their class I have changed my plans a little. I am going to run two hives. One hive will be run in the traditional manner and the other I will put the FlowHive honey super and see how it does.  This will also allow us to have and store some comb honey where the wax and honey is eaten. I have always loved comb honey simply because it is more of an experience.

I ordered all my equipment from Knight Family Honey and one more box of Italian bees from Knights. The equipment will arrive next week and I will stain it and get it ready for the season.  Armed with a better education and exactly what to look for I am now even more excited to get busy. The other nice thing about the class is it is not over yet. Next month we will go out and work their bees preparing them for the summer. And in the fall we will work their bees one more time to winterize the hives. This will give us some additional experience to work our hives.

For the new kits I am switching over to all medium supers for the brood and honey supers. The mediums make it easier to lift and it seems more interactive as it is likely the mediums fill up more quickly. They talked a lot about the pros of having all the frames be the same size so it is easy to mix and match the frames on the fly. For instance, if one hive is really producing a lot of honey you can take one of the frames and move it to the slower hive. Or in the winter you can ensure that the brood has at least 7 honey frames in the top box so they can make it through the winter.  I also like that the honey comb will be slightly smaller for when we cut the raw honey comb.

Here is a picture of the kit they sell. It comes with everything you need besides the bees. The boxes can either be painted or stained. I am still excited to try the HoneyFlow frames and I am excited that they got me off of the fence and into beekeeping. Who knows, maybe they will blow everyone away. It will be fun to see how the two hives do in a side by side comparison. The next bee post will likely be putting the bees in the hive or staining/painting the hives and putting them outside.


Medium Supers with smoker, veil, gloves, pollen patty, hive tool, and feeding bucket.


Beekeeping and the FlowHive Revolution

I have been interested in beekeeping for a long time. A couple of years ago I purchased Beekeeping For Dummies and also enrolled in a community course at Utah Valley University. Unfortunately, I ended up not pursuing beekeeping that year because we were in the middle of starting a pharmacy and life was too crazy.  In early 2015 I saw a Indiegogo kickstarter video about a new beehive called FlowHive that allowed you to harvest the honey without disturbing the bees. I was intrigued and decided it was time to stop reading and start doing beekeeping. We homeschool our kids so we also thought this would be an amazing educational experience. The hive comes complete with windows to look in the sides and back.

Here is the video:

We ordered the hive from Flow and the shipment came in late January. We put it all together and are anxiously awaiting our bees to arrive at then end of April 2016.

We ordered Italian bees from Knight Family Honey a local company. We have purchased honey from Knight’s at the ThanksgivingPoint farmer’s market in the past.  Lucky for me Knights also offer an introductory course so I can learn how to properly care for the bees and where to place them in my yard etc. Anytime you are starting a new hobby it helps to have a mentor.

Flow Hive assembled but not stained.


My boys helped me get everything assembled in the garage.

(Above) My daughter even got in on the assembly action.

After we assembled our hive we went to work staining it. The finished product looks awesome.

Staining the hive in the backyard.


Good branding


Nice touch!

The Flow company is amazing. I was amazed at all the extra touches Flow added to make it an experience and not just a product. From their branding on the hive, to engraving “Flow Founding Supporter 2015” on one of the doors, to their included instruction manuals, flyers and free beekeeping hat they have been a great company to work with. They act like they have been doing this for decades with their refined touches.

Very good branding and personalization.


Unexpected gift of a Flow hat with bee net.

Here is the stained beehives with the special Flow inserts.


Those Flow frames are where the magic occurs.  Watch the video at the top of the post to see the magic.


I will post again after my classes at the end of this week.

Airplane Parts Wall

All of the airplane parts come in small baggies so we have organized them and stapled them onto our wall.  We just slit the bag open and take out the ones we need and the remaining parts remain organized on the wall. We organized by priority number. The night before we work on a section we will search our PDF parts list electronically to get the priority numbers. Overall I think it will be much faster to find the parts. It would be nice if Rans published the priority number in the manual too.

The Airplane Shipment has Arrived

The parts to the Rans S-20 Raven arrived at the West Desert Airport on Wednesday February 24th. I was in Las Vegas at a director conference for my company when it arrived. The boys and I went and saw the plane parts Saturday morning February 30, 2015 when I got back from my trip.

When we arrived the front of the crate had been removed by airport workers to assure that there was no damage to the parts in shipping. So when we walked into the hangar we were immediately able to see all the parts and pieces still in the boxes.

To be honest, when we first arrived that morning we really didn’t know what to do so we mostly walked around it and picked up pieces and just took it all in. Porter had a basketball game so we had to leave to get him to his game. But before we left 4 Rans airplanes taxied out of their hangars and took off for a trip. So it was fun to see and hear what our airplane would soon become.

Later that evening, after Porter’s game (they did great, they went undefeated this season), we drove back to the hangar and started checking off inventory to make sure we had all the parts. We were able to inventory all the large parts (wheels, panels, rods, cables, etc.) that night before we left.

In the above picture the airplane fuselage is upside down in the box with the tail of the plane behind Eli.

Below: We took one large and heavy box home so we could finish the inventory process at home. We discovered this box held a lot of different parts inside. You will see the, spread all over out work bench below.

The rest of this week we have spent counting screws, whiz bangs, rivets, nuts, bolts, and bamboozles to make sure we received everything. Rans does a great job labeling and separating everything. So far we have only found 1 missing screw in a bag of 25, which is amazing considering the number of parts. One tip we did learn after a little while is to use the priority number instead of the part number since the priority numbers are in order and their are pages and pages and pages of parts. That discovery sped things up a lot!

Here we are in our garage at home counting parts and checking off the inventory sheet: 

 Checking off the parts was pretty fun. We were amazed at how light some of the large aluminum pieces were. And it was fun to see things that we recognized like a door handle, a knob, or the control stick handle. I would read the priority number and give the count, Porter would find the number and use a ruler to make sure he was looking at the right line and record how many we had, and Eli would sort the parts into boxes. Each box held 100 priority numbers. Though some boxes held more than 100 priority numbers since some priority numbers go into decimals like 450.1. This is going to be an awesome learning experience and something we can be totally proud of. Definitely a lasting memory.

One last group shot for the history books.

Flight to Bryce Canyon My Coolest Location Ever (with Videos)

On November 30, 2013 I had planned a flight to Moab, Dead Horse Point and the Arches with my Brother Tyler. When it was time to go I got a weather briefing that said that area was all fogged in. I had already rented the plane so I started looking for areas that were not covered in a low layer of fog. Bryce Canyon is on the way to Cedar city and was on the edge of the fog so we planned to head toward Bryce and see if it would be visible or not. This turned out to be the coolest trip ever.  My brother Tyler introduces us to the flight while I do the preflight checks on the airplane.

 I review our trip on an awesome IPad app called Foreflight and fill out a VFR (Visual Flight Rules=no flying in the clouds) flight plan. The flight plan is filed so the FAA knows where you were flying and knows where to search for you if you don’t call them when the flight is supposed to be over.

 I start the engine up, listen to the weather or ATIS so I can set my altimeter and then run through the preflight checklist. The Cessna 172 we are flying has what is called a “glass cockpit”. Instead of the round dials typically found in an airplane there are two computer screens with maps and all the altitude, speed, and other pertinent information displayed on the screen. It is the agar in G1000 system. It can also show you where other airplanes are and show you what you would run into if you stay at your current altitude. They are amazing.

 After completing all the run ups and checks on the engine we roll onto the runway and put in full power for take off. Once our speed gets to 64 Knots I pull back on the stick and climb off the ground I set the pitch so we climb up to altitude at 74 knots. We will eventually leave Heber and fly over Deer Creek Resevoir and out of Provo Canyon.

This is the view out the window as we fly through Provo Canyon.

 We approach Bryce and there is snow on the ground, but if you look in the distance there is a layer of fog that has no end. It goes as far as the eye can see like an ocean of fog. The coolest part is it stops right on the edge of Bryce so it looks mystical (you can see it even better in the next video). This same fog layer goes all the way to Moab and covers it all up. This is the reason we had to change our plans. After seeing what it looked like I am glad we changed our plans.

This video is actually over the Bryce Canyon red rock and formations. The video doesn’t do it justice it was beautiful.
 This is a good picture of the fog and a video of us landing.  After passing over Bryce we set up to land at Bryce Airport. The airport is to our left, we reduce our speed, lower our flaps and then turn left. We lower some more flaps when we are lined up we turn left again, lower flaps one more time and we slowly descend until we get to the runway. Once a couple feet above the runway we level out and let our speed bleed off. We raise our nose a little to bleed off more speed and to make sure the rear wheels touch down first.

As we taxi to park I call the FBO (fixed base of operations) and ask them to call us in a ride to Ruby’s inn.  A van shows up, we jump in and go eat an all you can eat buffet lunch at Ruby’s.  Following the lunch they give us a ride back to the airport and we head back to Heber.

Here are some fun pictures on the way home.   Me checking my fuel before leaving.

 My brother Tyler
  The windmills at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.

 Utah Lake, Provo and Orem to the left.

Rock Canyon to the right.
 Heading up Provo canyon back toward Heber to finish the trip. Mt. Timpanogas is to the left.

This day is what flying is all about!

The Decision to Build my Own Plane

When I was young my older brother Jason loved airplanes. My mom found out about an older man who was building an airplane in his garage. My mom arranged a visit and we got to go tour his garage. He was building a kit plane similar to a Steerman. I remember being in awe that he could build an airplane in his garage. Fast forward 20+ years and I find myself about to embark on building my own airplane in my garage.

Flying an airplane can be expensive, a new kit plane allows you the thrill of building and owning a plane at a fraction of the cost. Many aviation engines like the Rotax engines run on high octane automobile fuel and burn one third of the gas which makes flying for fun more affordable. For instance, a Cessna 172 burns between 10 and 12 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel an hour.  Right now 100LL fuel is going for $4.50 to $7.00 a gallon which is $45.00 to $54.00 of fuel burn per hour.  A Rotax engine burns 91 Octane automobile fuel and only burns 4 to 5 gallons per hour. Right now Premium 91 octane fuel is selling for $2.00 to $2.25 which puts fuel burn an hour at $8 to $9 dollars and hour!  I can fly from Salt Lake to St. George Utah in under 4 hours for $32, and when I get there I can stay as long as I want because I don’t have to get it back to the rental facility by a specific time. The new freedom will be amazing!  The cheaper price of the airplane coupled with the cheaper maintenance and fuel burn allows pilots like me to fly for fun and not just when they need to travel.   (Above) The cost of 100LL aviation fuel in the western United States (using Foreflight on the IPad)

(Above) The current cost of Premium automobile fuel using an online pricing tool.

I did a lot of research into the cost of ownership. I analyzed how I would likely fly. How many seats I needed, what type of flying I would be doing. I also analyzed the different types of kitplanes for over a year. I kept coming across the Rans S7 kit planes.  They were two seater tandem airplane with big bush wheels. As luck would have it I stumbled on an airport by Eagle Mountain where they actually build and sale this model of airplane. What are the chances?…slim to none.

I took a tour of the facility and was amazed at the process. I was excited! Mark, the owner, offered to take me flying in his S7 Turbo. I of course took him up on the flight and I think it was one of the funnest flights I have been on. Mark let me take the stick and test the plane out. I attached some video of me sitting in the back seat (that is what tandem means, front seat and back seat). It was a nimble plane and I could see so much and we could really dial back the speed and fly low and slow. We did an off airport landing down a dirt road, it was a blast.

 I kept researching and realized that I probably wanted to go with side by side seating so when I take my kids I can see them and talk to them. It is easier to keep both people warm when they are both up by the heater, and they are less likely to get sick sitting in the front.  As luck would have it Rans released a new model the Raven S20. The S20 has the tail and wings of the S7 but they made it so the airplane has side by side seating. I read the reviews about the plane and everything I read said it was even better than the S7. It has a large baggage space for camping gear and it can be set up as a trike or a tail dragger.  Tail draggers are better for back country landings and trike or tricycle gear are more forgiving on touch down and taxi.

So from all my research I think this plane is everything I want to get into the sport of flying more often. It is a two seater side by side that I will start as a trike landing gear (three legs in the front like a Cessna) but that I can later convert to a tail dragger when I am ready to start flying off airport more.

The Rans Raven S20 with Tricycle Landing Gear  The Rans S20 Raven set up as a Tail Dragger

 Two seats side by side with the new Glass Cockpit instead of the old steam gauges. This means nice GPS and synthetic vision so flying becomes safer and fun for techies like me.

The kit is ordered and should ship out soon. I have never built anything like this before but I am confident that it will be an amazing experience for me and my boys to build together. Luckily we also have the master builders 30 minutes from our house that can give advice if we get stuck.  The count down begins!

Getting my Shop In Order

Up to this point in my life I haven’t really needed my garage to be a shop. But in preparation to build an airplane in the garage I am turning my garage into a shop. First thing I needed was better lighting. I was able to pick up some LED ceiling lights from Costco that work great. Next, after some research I realized I needed to build a 2 foot by 8 foot work bench.  I ended up ordering work bench on Amazon. It comes with the connectors and you buy the wood. I had Eli and Porter help me with measuring and putting the bench together. The finished product is awesome. The nice thing about this set is you can make the workbench whatever dimensions you want.

Video: Eli unloading lumber

  Porter measuring and marking cuts on middle shelf.  We are cutting the middle shelf to two 30″ pieces and one 36″ piece. This allows us to configure the middle shelf any way we want.

Video: Porter measuring for the cuts


  Chalking the line for the skill saw

  Finished work bench with Chairs from Ikea

  Finished work bench with chairs from Ikea

I also replaced one outlet and wired two more outlets so I would have electricity all the way along the bench. My final touch was to build an attached shelf over the table and attach two led lights so I would have plenty of light. This also allows me to store some miscellaneous tools within easy reach.

Finished project with lights.

Added one more 8 foot bench to make an L.  Both tables are fairly light and easy to move.  I decided to remove the middle shelf to make more leg room when sitting and allow easier access for larger items on the bottom shelf.  Very sturdy and nice work benches and very cost effective.

My First Passenger

My second oldest son Eli was my first passenger in June of 2012. He was 6 years old at the time. He has an older brother but he was a little nervous and decided not to come with us.  We flew from Salt Lake International airport over the Great Salt Lake and into the Tooele valley.  We flew over my brothers house and then returned back to the Salt Lake Airport.

Eli and me


That is the Great Salt Lake behind Eli

This is looking down over Tooele

I let Eli fly the airplane for a minute. He flew to the left and right and up and down. He was a little nervous but thought it was pretty cool. After the flight I asked Eli what his favorite part was and he said it was the water. I took this video asking some follow up questions.  I love his lisp, it is gone now but I got a kick watching this video.


Airplanes and Me

When I was 16 I had a friend named Scott who had earned his pilot’s license. Scott would often take me flying with him. We would drive down to what was then called Airport number 2, now South Valley Regional U42. I remember there was something magical about knowing the code to the gate and being able to walk onto the taxiways and tarmack. At U42 their were quite a few planes that were just tied down off the runway and not under a hangar. We would walk around and look in the Windows of all the planes. We started out flying rental Cessna 172 with six pack instruments. Scott would fly me over to Utah county, over BYU, and construction job sites his dad or brothers were working at. When I got recruited to play football at Southern Utah University Scott flew me down to Cedar to meet with the coaches. He also flew down once after my mission and we took dates flying over Zions National Park. Scott allowed me to take the controls on most of our flights and after chasing the needle to catch the altitude I finally mastered straight and level flight. Flying was a love hate relationship for me. I loved the feeling and coolness of flying, but I hated the fact that I got air sick and threw up on almost every flight.

I remember one flight coming back from Cedar City. We had specifically gone to a maverick before coming home to grab some bags in case I needed to throw up. On the way home Scott and I followed I-15 as it got later and darker. At one point outside of Utah County the air was getting choppy and I was getting sick. I had found that if I flew the airplane my brain was more okay with the bumps. But if you have ever been sick you will know that outside noises and inputs can really throw you for a loop if you are concentrating on not throwing up. Scott noticed I was getting sick and started talking into the headset. I motioned for him to quiet down and he continued to get louder. I can see where he would get some entertainment out of his friend getting sick when he felt fine. Long story short, it was a good thing we grabbed that Maverick bag.

After I got married, while still living in Cedar I convinced Pigeon, my wife’s nick name, to let me take some lessons in Cedar. I think I took two lessons. On one lesson we flew down to Beaver and I remembered thinking I would never be able to fly well because it was so hard to find where the runways were once you were airborne. On the next flight Pigeon came with us. We were practicing touch and gos, where you take off, stay in the traffic pattern and come right back around to land. It was a hot day in Cedar and I remember my brain being cloudy from all the inputs. Hot air in the cabin, brain racing to stay ahead of the plane and listen to the instructor. Eventually the inputs overwhelmed me and I started throwing up, well sort of.

A couple of years earlier I had a surgery to repair the acid reflux I had experienced since youth. Every 18 to 24 months I would choke on food because the acid reflux had caused so much scar tissue in my throat it was slowly closing off my esophagus. I had at least 5 surgeries where I would choke on rice, chicken, or another meat and they would have to go down, remove the meat and stretch my throat back out. The new surgery, called a Nissen Fundoplication makes it so no acid comes up in your throat. The by product is that I can no longer throw up. Correction, I can go through the motions of throwing up but nothing comes up.

So I was trying to land the plane and kept going through the motions of gagging with Pidge in the back seat chuckling and the instructor not knowing what to think. It was after this flight that I came to my senses and realized that flying was not in a college students budget and I quit the lessons.

Fast forward nearly 9 years and Elder Uchtdorf, an apostle of the LDS Church, was giving a talk in conference about achieving your dreams. He probably was talking religiously but it registered with me as a need to earn my pilot’s license. I immediately began researching flight schools and settled on Cornerstone Aviation which operated out of Salt Lake International Airport. I figured if I am going to learn I might as well learn at the busy airports. I went to Cornerstone on a blustery day and told Susan, the owner, that I wanted to go up into the bumpy weather and if I did not get sick I would know I could take lessons. She suggested that was a horrible idea and that I should get used to flying on nice days so my body would acclimatize. I followed her suggestion and she was correct. My first flight on a calm day left me feeling ill and white. I think it is because I am a perfectionist and want to know everything that is going on. When taking off and landing, listening to air traffic control, trying to listen to all the tips that the instructor is giving and attempting to process it all in a noisy cockpit the brain gets overwhelmed with all the inputs. I didn’t throw up, but I was happy to be back down. That first lesson at Cornerstone was May 5, 2011. Lessons were always challenging and fun and I was suprised at the amount of things that were required to learn in order to get a license. From how an engine works to weather that pilot training is very in depth.

Most of my flights were from Salt Lake international airport to Tooele airport via the “Barn transition”.They call it the barn transition because you fly out to antelope island in the great Salt Lake and once you fly over the barn (a literal old barn on the island) they give you new coordinates.

One neat experience, where I realized the coolness of what I was doing, was on my long cross country solo from Salt Lake to St. George. One of the runways in Salt Lake was closed so they were channeling all traffic to my runway. I had a couple huge airplanes in front of me and more huge ones to the left of me. I was a small fish in a big pond. This experience mad me flash back to a time when I distinctly remember being on a commercial flight flying into Salt Lake and looking out the window to see the small general aviation planes. I thought to myself those guys are crazy to be flying around here with all these big airplanes. It was one of those moments where you suddenly found yourself living out something you once thought was impressive and crazy and never thought would be possible. I was now confident to fly with these big airplanes. It was a cool feeling.


Here is the picture of three airplanes in front of me.

This is the view out my left window. We were all lined up to take off out of the same runway.


I passed my check ride, with Clair Shaffer, and became an official private pilot on June 28, 2012. I would have earned my license sooner but the airplane I was renting went into the shop for an extended period around Halloween of 2011 and life got super busy with work and the holidays so I did not fly from Oct 25 2011 to June 01, 2012. In the long run I am happy there was a break it allowed me to brush up and get some more lessons in with a new instructor that taught me some additional new skills.

As a side note, Sharon, the owner of the flight school, was right! As I learned all the skills and became comfortable with the airplane, the radios, and the equipment flying has become a pure joy. The air sickness that I once had on almost every flight is no longer an issue at all. My favorite aspect of flying is there is always more to learn. My favorite thing to do is take people who love flying or who have never been flying for rides. Knowing what it is like to get sick, I make sure they have a nice smooth ride and know what is happening. It is an amazing hobby!