The interest for local bee organization accross the province is stong. Two well established organizations, Red River Apiarist Association and the Brandon Area Beekeepers Association hold monthly meetings and regularly pull 50-100 area beekeepers to each meeting. I’ve been to each, the connection to beekeepers within the area is refreshing.
The appetite for a local bee organization within the south central region has been brewing for quite sometime. Just recently a couple of beekeepers from the south central area decided to officially create the South Central Beekeepers Association.
“We hope the formation of this Association will help connect local beekeepers, allowing the sharing of information, and boost our overall understanding of Beekeeping and industry in Southern Manitoba.”
Sounds like a great start!
The South Central Beekeeping Association will be held the first Tuesday of each month, 7:30pm at the Morden Libray on Stephen Street, back entrance.
Sounds like this first meeting will start off dealing with basic organization business and formalities, then will proceed with Beekeeping conversation from all levels of Beekeeping. The SCBA will have a direct connection to hobby beekeepers, all types of start ups, sideliners, experienced commercial and our provincial Beekeeping industry representatives. I’m excited this group has decided to form. The purpose and usefulness of this group will be what it’s members make it to be. Now I just gotta make sure they don’t label me with any positions 🙂
Everyone tends to get a good laugh when I talk about the spring “shit storm” within the yards after we set the bees out of winter storage. This year was especially so. It’s a long winter when the bees are kept flightless for 5 1/2 months. When they are let loose, stay away!
This year the yards look messier than typically. Throughout my varroa sampling I also analyzed the samples for nosema. Through my untrained eyes, I see very little nosema infection. I will confirm this through a credible lab. Zero varroa…so disease free hives are good for a slow start on spring. The interesting thing about this is I’ve quit using fumagillin since last spring. And since then my nosema infection has been lower than for a long time. There is nothing scientific going on here, just plain old basic observations.
The bees are heavy into the dry supplement and taking back the open fed syrup. These bees are primed for the first pollen and nectar flow. Through today’s work I’ve noticed a sudden attention put towards the protein patties over the nest. This is encouraging to see. Finally a heavy resource draw from underneath. Being a week out now, those first eggs have now staged into a high demand for resources. Resources I’ve provided outside with dry feed and inside with supplement patty. Bring on that pollen!
With every management advantage there comes that balanced disadvantage. This spring I set most of my hives out into one large spring holding yard. Over the years I’ve lost my small availabile accessible spring yards due to land development but mostly public complaint. Spring bees are not nasty but bothersome. Without natural forage available early in the spring the bees will wander and linger, especially in farm and residential yards. I simply accommodate these complaints by not setting spring yards close to people…
So this is where my current yard comes into play, away from most, somewhat accessible and easy to drop a large number of hives over a short time. This yard is well protected from the northwest and along the escarpment which sets this yard into a slight heat sink. This yard has provided excellent set out conditions TIL now.
The problem came last nigh. She’s wide open from the south west and that was the blast we got last night. I couldn’t sleep last night knowing that yard had a cold wind on its back…so as quick as I have moved them in, I’ll move them back out. Many of my sheltered summer yards are dry and accessible now and pollen is close. I’m going to jump the gun a bit and start spreading my yards out over the countryside. I’m sure the good people of Miami will understand a few days of lingering Bee flight until those early trees bloom.
The supplement is being foraged on heavily. These hives are all lifting heavy but I’m setting out sugar syrup ASAP to help stimulate these hives. We have not dug into any hives yet because cluster disturbance this time of year does not help anything. Spot checks throughout the apiary show no capped brood, but the queens have started to lay heavily.
So….these wintered hives have just started brooding and we are mid way through April. These winter hives will not flip until beginning of May. I’m use to having these hives flipped by now and thinking about seconds already! Time is not on our side this year. The weather during these next few weeks will be critical.
This morning BeeMaid held a member’s informational meeting in my home town of Miami Manitoba. Miami was a good centralized spot to many Coop producers in the area. We had a three hour meeting, there was a lot of discussion and I’m glad I took the time out of the day to indulge myself into the inside look of our honey packer’s business. I missed a couple hours of the bee working day but today’s meeting was extremely refreshing.
We put in the afternoon of bee work in though…today’s assessments were not as spectacular as yesterdays. I found at least two of last years yards within the rows which were pretty much dead. I’m not sure where they came from last year but finding the losses all grouped together indicates they were all probably from two common yards. Tomorrow I’ll dig deeper and see were they came from and I’ll check to see if I can find evidence of the loss. 1-2 frames of bees, probably yards left with old queens, with the length of this winter these winter bees just ran out of time… or mites… or they ran out of nourishment midway through the summer and I didn’t get back to them in time…
The bees are out and finally we have proper foraging weather. This afternoon we spent an hour in the hives, we got through a truck load assessing strength and dropping patties. Initial look, through 144 hives I’m seeing 15% smaller than 3 frames. Tomorrow afternoon we will hit the yard and start slugging out bee working hours. We are three weeks behind. Priority is to assess, emergency feed and drop patties. I’ll be continually surveying disease levels and second round we will administer treatments.
I fuss about being behind in my work until I remind myself how few dead hives I’m pulling out of the yard…early yet to determine losses but even if I’m seeing smaller clusters, I think I have enough here to get me into May.
As a farmer, I believe very strongly in responsible land use choices. We farm a diverse landscape, we manage our lands specifically to its land type as we utilize the lands for crop, pasture, muskeg pasture or left as natural ravine. Even lands we do not actively farm we view as a valuable to nature which our honey bees feed from.
As member of the Manitoba Beekeepers Association, your voice is being conveyed to our government on sustainable land development. This government must understand that all places of our lands don’t need to be farmed and society must start valuing these wetlands and other natural unfarmable lands. We need to get creative to address this increasing problem.
Here is a beekeeper message I received yesterday after my meeting with the Minister of Agriculture;
“I see you are working at saving some wetlands. Sure hope you have some luck. My friend who’s a outfitter for waterfowl is totally frustrated! Farmer drained a named water body by ###### last fall. No one returned his calls, and no charges were laid. This wasn’t just a little puddle, it was a substantial wetland drainage project. Total joke. My friend even called the head of water stewardship directly. Could never get through. He left a message saying this farmer was going to drain a large body of water hoping to get a call back. never did! He deals with natural resources all the time and is totally frustrated. This substantial slew/lake that was drained is only a couple miles from a game wardens house. Nobody cares!!!
This same farmer has done some sketchy stuff close to my house as well. Re routing creeks etc. “
It’s these kind of situations that need addressing. As a voice for the MBA, we are not interested in criticizing routene land improvement projects, infact we encourage it. Our voice from the MBA insists on beefing up enforcement of illegal works and to stiffen up penalties towards these acts. We also believe programs need to be adopted to promote wetland and natural land preservation to provide recognition to the land owners for their contribution and ongoing efforts. Land tax rebates and incentives to start off the list of action.
As this problem gets worst our voice will get louder. Without those little pockets of nature available, our bees will die along side everything else natural. Your voice through the Manitoba Beekeepers Association will be heard!
The Manitoba Beekeeper’s Association with the Manitoba Minister of Agriculture.
Paul Gregory, Ian Steppler, Allan Campbell, Ralph Eichler-Minister of Agriculture.
Our job as directors of the Manitoba Beekeepers Association is to represent your industry voice to our provincial government.
Today we met with the minister, deputy, and their executive assistants. Our discussion prioritized the importance of our Provincial Apiarist and our provincial Beekeeping extension services. Our government extension commitment is about to come due and we reinforced the importance of reinstating the program but to recognize the growth and change within our Beekeeping industry. We then complemented that discussion by demonstrating the benefit of the development of a Tech Transfer Team within our industry. Paul and Allan carried that heavy messaging as I followed in their coat tails. My job was to convey the messsge of sustainable land development and how it relates to our honeybee industry. I spoke about the importance of pollen diversity and how it relates to honey bee health. I then related it all to our changing landscape and reinforce the fact that we are loosing our natural pollen. My message reinforced our MBA member voice on having this government hold illegal land development works to task and ensure water stewardship has authority to properly enforcement penalties that will stop illegal wetland development. I told him I am not against cutting Red tape and streamlining the permit process on land improvement initiatives. Common sense needs to rule the day. I conveyed the message that it’s this government’s responsibility to beef up enforcement and to protect our natural lands. It’s this governments responsibility to develop initiatives to help protect our natural lands and find a way to put value on these lands as being important to society by keeping our bees and nature alive. Otherwise in 10 years nature will be dead along with our bees.
Within these meetings we look for small victories and I think that came after the meeting. Paul asked for a November follow up meeting to discuss movement on our issues forward. The deputy responded, June. 🙂
The Manitoba Beekeepers Association is conveying the message to the Manitoba Government on the importance of sustainable land development and we are relaying the message on how important natural lands and wetlands are to the honey bee industry. Today I talked on the phone with Dan Mazier, president of Keystone Agriculture Producers about the imbalance between current agriculture policy and sustainable land development. He currently sits on the provincial drainage regulation task force that’s working on regulation changes that are required for Bill 7 to be implemented. My voice to Dan was to commend the provincial government for their efforts to cut the bull shit red tape to streamline our land improvement projects but at the same time press the government on the importance to beef up Water Stewardship Enforcement of illegal works and penalties. Adequate enforcement is something that is terribly lacking right now.
In regards to wetland and natural habitat preservation the MBA has aligned our message with KAP which supports the GROW program (Growing Outcomes for Watersheds) based on the initial ALUS initiative (alternative land use services) model. These proposed programs are important to Beekeeper’s because of its focus on preserving natural habitat and existing wetlands which provide our hives with abundant and diverse pollen from flowering plants.
My Voice towards these proposed initiatives is that farmers need some sort of land tax rebate incentive to provide true value and recognition for their sustainable land management efforts. Not only do we need to change the way we view our land management, we need to also support the already existing and ongoing land conservation efforts in place right now.
As we move forward, lend your voice and comment on these initiatives! Don’t hesitate to contact myself or anyone sitting on the MBA and make your voice heard!