This year I am finally going through with my late summer supplement feed program. I found a few hours today and mixed up enough Bee Pollen-ate to feed a pound per hive. I might follow up with another pound but it’s already getting late. This week we will collect the last of second pull and we will strip all the hives down to a single brood chamber to prepare for winter. Patties go on asap along with a couple rounds of open feeding.
I just received this honey bee supplement fresh out of the Mill shipped directly to me from Kentucky. Bee Pollenate is a new product and apperently our livestock nutritionist told me I was the first guy in Canada to feed this supplement.
My philosophy with bees is the same as with our livestock, healthy diet healthy animals.
On our farm we measure the nutrition in our livestock feed closely and feed supplements to help target the animals exact dietary needs. This point alone has paid back in dividends with increased reproductively and productivity.
I can’t translate the same feeding program to the bees because not only do I not know the feed value of the pollen coming in, I can’t even measure the amount coming in throughout my apiary. Only guesses. So what I’m trying to do is spike the hives feed with a balanced protein enriched supplement during times that really matter to the hive’s development. Spring growth is critical, building winter bees is crucial.
By using our livestock farm feed program as a feed regime template, I’m hoping I can translate efficacy the same way to the bees.
From a reader in reference to the yeast base of Bee Pollenate:
“What I like about yeast is that bees digest most of it. Only yeast spore walls left. Thee yeast spores breaks down very quickly in bee guts.
In my younger days did some bee sectioning of the guts and followed yeast spores from the fore guts to the rectum.”
Bee Pollen-ate finally came in. I plan on spiking my hives nutrition over this next week with a pound or two of protein supplement. I mixed a 160 lbs batch in 5 minutes this evening…with an old power drill and a mortar bit. Poured into a large box mould, this mix will set up to a firm cake like mousse consistency by morning. In the yards I’ll simply cut a pound and drop it on the hives and close the lid.
The flow has resumed and its strong enough that I might even get another box out of some yards by the time I get back around. If anything it will keep the hives lush with resource which is terrific for the developing winter nest. It’s why leaving space uptop is needed at all times this time of year even under pessimistic conditions. We do not want plugged out brood nests.
Soon as the timing is right we will start brood nest assessments and start winter prep.
6 way pallets, large cement pad, forklift… unload time is 15 minutes including handling straps and rolling up the tarp. A covered loading dock is on my wish list.
My hives are down into two boxes now (one brood and one super). The rains that swept through Wednesday were timely for the crops and brought on a mild nectar flow to all my yards. The hives I took down to one are backfilling which is too early. That extra space uptop is needed yet. Clover, alfalfa, countless ditch flowers are kicking out enough to sustain the hives with scraps of surplus. Lots of pollen is coming in which has the brood nest lush with jelly. I can relax on the syrup and protein supplement right away. Next week I’ll probably start spiking their diet as the nest prepares for winter. Then…it’s time to start thinking of…MITES..,
Stacking into storage already… We set escape boards out over these last couple days which gave me a good look at what is out there to come in. Second pull looks to be 75% full due to the early abrupt end to the honey flow. Top boxes (4’s and 5’s) needed another week to fill up. There will be no second pull on my last 500 hive units (split and nucs). We will be through the first pull boxes by Friday which looks to yield us 3 1/2 semi loads. Second pull will not have that but there will be enough to keep the trailers booked.
Yesterday I brought my oldest daughter (14) out to collect a few yards of honey. An introduction to my livelihood and hard work. My work crew had the weekend off so I pulled Lori in to give her “old man” a hand!
I hire six kids to help on the honey farm. Through the honey pull I split my staff into two crews, honey extraction crew and honey collection crew. I strike out the pace and my guys work their butts off for me. (I pay well) Today I have 1200 hives pulled and supered, the hot room is full and 80 barrels extracted. This next week we will tackle the last 500 units of splits and nucs. I find it very important to allow weekends off after a hard week of work. It keeps every week fresh and I actually get more work done in that shorter time as compared to continuously strung out. BUT it takes planning. Unlike the grain harvest, I can protect my production from the weather within the hive. With an adequate number of boxes, a good facility and a very specific method of honey collection, I developed a schedule which plans the honey pull out to the day. On the weekend I’ll work at the edges to keep on track, but otherwise I allow some down time for myself to rest and recoup. One of the secrets of getting more work done in a shorter period of time is >>work smarter and slowing down<<
Hot work days requires a few trick to keep my work staff safe from heat exhaustion. When it gets hot I start pushing my heat rule:
work slower, carry less, drink water
Just a few things I do to address heat exhaustion are as follows: My honey house fridge is stocked with refreshments and power aid is available in the cupboards. This helps avoid getting water logged. A jar of candy sits on the coffee room table. The candy is a snack which help keep sugars and salts up. I do not allow air conditioning during the work day in our vehicles. Air conditioning is nothing but trouble to a hard working crew. The honey house ventilation system is designed to pull air through the coffee room and through the extraction room which creates a nice cross breeze. It is also important to keep the crew chatting, even just a little bit, which helps provide continuous feedback to assess their physical condition.
…to address the OVER consumption of candy, I stock the jar with expensive skittle candy AND cheaper delicious hard sugar candy. The expensive candy keeps them grabbing for more but the hard cheap sugar candy forces anyone helping themselves to sort what they want in smaller portions lol.
The honey is coming in well under 17% now. Even warm honey that tests 16-17% does not extract very well and the frames leave the extractor wet with thick honey residue. To capture that thick honey residue off those frames I installed a steam generator which blasts a continuous jet of steam into the extractor. It will bump the MC up in the honey by 1/2% – 1% which helps capture more extractable honey and somewhat dry the frames before they exit the extractor. I hate carrying heavy wet supers back onto the hives or into storage. At $800 plus installation I’m sure it has paid itself back a few times already. It has also eliminated honey drip onto the floor after extraction as we stack and store the empty boxes on storage pallets.
The canola flow has pretty much ended everywhere now, yet I still shook fresh nectar from freshly placed frames. Clover and alfalfa must be digging deep to provide the bees with enough abundance to keep their attention away from any type of robbing behaviour. But it’s almost August, it’s time to start preparing for that dreaded robbing behaviour. First, I need to move the Bee yard which sits a mile away from my honey house. Second, I need to change our work habits so no honey boxes get left outside on truck or around the honey house…ever. Third I need to do a walk around and make sure all doors and vents are sealed tight. Fourth, I need to start an evening bee sweep from the honey house catch hives to cut the resident bee population within the home yard. Fifth, I need to install the bee truck tarp.