Monthly Archives: April 2009

April 2009

April 16, 2009

Early Spring Work

Our farm has hired two guys to help us with our farm workload.  One full time, and one seasonal.  We also have decided to hire two more guys, one during June July August, and the other just during the honey flow, end of July into August.

It’s a lot of help, but we have a lot of work to get done.  These last few years we have been overwhelming ourselves with work and much of the upkeep and maintenance of the farm was being neglected.  We are planning to direct attention towards that this year and for now on during slower work periods throughout the year.  But of course the main benefit is with all the help, we are going to be able to keep ahead of our work and by doing so, the farm will be better for it.

Exciting stuff!  We are all looking forward to working with these guys!

Anyway, I have been able to make a primary round through the yards and counted 25-30% losses.  A rough estimate that allowed me to gauge the amount of supplies to buy for the hives.

The next round I have been able to get further into the hive, and I am not all that happy.  My losses are looking more like 35%, and if we don’t get a good spring, that number will grow.  But overall, my survivors are looking good.  I figure I have enough strong hive to make up most of my losses.  And right now that is great news.

I have been inquiring on other beekeeper losses throughout the province, and I hear losses are higher than normal.  I called into BeeMiad Honey to inquire about purchasing packages to help fill my brood boxes, and they were sold right out.  I don’t need to buy bees, and am glad, because the price to pay for bees this year will be high.


Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:34 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2009

Wintering shed

Well, April 9th, I finally got the chance to remove my hives.  The forecast has improved and April 10th was forecasted to be a nice calm sunny warm day.  It got up to 5 degree C, and without wind, it felt much warmer.  A great day to set out my hives.

Because of the good forecast, I decided to set all my hives out that night.  I worked from 9 pm straight to 7:30 the next morning.  It was a long night, but no wind, and the yards froze up nicely about 2:00 to make my yard work a lot easier.  Nothing worse than getting stuck in a bee yard at 2 or 3 in the morning with a load of bees on.

I ran the 750 hives into 6 different yards.  I don’t like to congest my yards, but had no choice because of the amount of snow still lying in my yards.  This early I will not have any problem with robbing and such, but as the month progresses and the hives start to grow, robbing will become a huge problem.  I would like to spread out my yards before the trees come into bloom.

Today I rested and allowed the hives to relieve themselves.  Tomorrow I start my rounds.  I am going to make a quick feed check and preliminary assessment so I can better gauge how much supplement and feed to purchase.  Then next week when the weather warms, the work starts.

Posted by Ian Steppler at 06:15 PM | Permalink

April 04, 2009

Winter shed

Wow, what a slow start to spring.  The weather had changed in March to the very familiar cold and windy winter.  We received two shots of snow fall, totalling around 20-30 cm of snow.  It still hasn’t moved!  Forecast for late next week is improving, such that I am going to take the opportunity relieve my hives.  I have been busy pushing snow in my holding yards so the sun will be able to melt off and expose the earth.  Most of the yards have held a good 25 centimeters of snow still.  One particular site held over 30 cm.  Pushing that yard was tough because the ground was not frozen.  Real amazing how well the snow insulates the soil underneath.

The reason why I push the snow in the yards is to have exposed ground for the bees to fly over to enable them to successfully orientate themselves to their hives when they leave.  Snow confuses them during bright sunny days and mixes up their flight orientation mechanism sending them down instead of up.  After setting them outside after 5 plus months, having their first flight over snow could lead to disaster.  While wintering the hives outdoors I had not noticed any problem with the bees’ flight over the snow.  I figure the reason for the difference in behaviour is that the outdoor wintered hives may acclimatize themselves naturally to the changing environment, while the indoor wintered hives are forced into an unnatural setting.  When I set the indoor hives out for the first time, I figure it’s the extreme change in their surroundings that probably confuses them.

Anyhow, lets hope spring comes next week!  Time to get busy!

Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:48 PM | Permalink