February 26, 2012
I finally got around to sweeping the floor in the wintering shed again. Last time I swept the shed I was getting murdered by the bees bearding from the entrances. It has been such a mild winter this year that I have been having trouble finding cold enough days to drop the winter shed temp down low enough to push the bees back into the entrance during my work. It was cold enough today that I was able to work freely in the shed. With the 15 degree temperature outside and both fans on full, the temp only dropped to 1 degree C in the shed. Cold enough to keep the bees complaining at the entrances and not flying out at me!
Being the end of February I walked around and did a quick mortality estimate. Out of 675-700 hives in the shed I counted out 50, and assessed thier survival. My criteria of a live hive was if I could see the cluster or hear the cluster. I did not assess size, just alive. Out of 50 hives I found 5 silent hives, so counting them as dead, thats a 10% loss. Thats a very good result plus 40 out of the 50 hives showed bees bulging from the bottom and top of the hive. So far so good. I am starting to see some spotting on the entrances but not too many of the hives have that. I swept two more barrels of bees today bringing my total to 3 1/2 barrels of dead bees. Seems like a lot but it is running along my yearly averages.
My hive equipment construction project is just about complete. Ill have most of it done within this next week or so depending on how many distractions I get. Then my attention will turn towards my equipment maintenance.
I am going to make a point of getting a couple more vids up loaded and a bunch more pics of last years season. I have our silage run video and a spring soyflour foraging video ready to up load.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 03:40 PM | Permalink
February 21, 2012
My CFIA registration manual is linked now. I call it my Honey House Action Plan. For all of you who has contacted me to view it, hope it helps. Im not registered, still in the process so use this only as an example of how Im approaching registration. This document is a work in progress so if anyone has some comments or suggestions dont hesitate to contact me!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:55 AM | Permalink
February 19, 2012
BeeMaid put on a CFIA honey house registration workshop on Friday. It was very well attended and I got a lot of useful information from it. If anything by being there it showed me that I was not “the only one” that has not completed my registration and also showed me that many if not all beekeepers felt the same way about the whole process. We all have good workable practical set ups and we all do our best to extract a high quality product BUT few of us fit under the strict CFIA template the government would like us to work under. I like to think proactively and I like to see the benefit of this whole issue. By having Canadian beekeepers registered with CFIA our marketable product becomes so much more attractive to buyers and consumers alike. Our industry will see benefit from this initiative.
We have to keep our practical and smart hats on though. I commend the directors and membership for being proactive and moving the company in a positive and strategic direction, but I also would like to re enforce the FACT that this initiative is very costly to producers. To move the company in this direction greatly increases the operational risks to the producer and their livelihoods. To impose a time line on CFIA compliance undermines the ability for producers to actually achieve this kind of operating standard. There has to be consideration put into place to accommodate producer situations and help them achieve this standard of operating compliance. Right now our industry produces a product superior to anything else in the world and the world pays top dollar for it. To initiate costly standards to please the paper work of these buyers who will not pay more for our certified product lays so much risk on our producers that it may actually impede the progress the company is trying to achieve. This all works on $1.50 honey, but to invest tens of thousands of dollars into a facility borrowing on projected prices of $1.50 is risky. What happens if the price of honey drops back to $.75 /lbs? BeeMaid cant guarantee it wont, and BeeMaid will not make my costly loan payment if it happens to drop back down to that price. There is a reason why we all do not own big fancy facilities and run thousands of hives. We are all limited to our own resources at hand and we are all doing the best we can with whats available to us. For BeeMaid to set a timeline on its producers is a very bold action to make. My suggestion to the membership and its directors is start thinking of a strategy to help producers comply and provide a plan to make this transition feasible for all of us. This initiative is a good one, but it has to be implemented over time.
All that said I have to say I am very excited about bringing CFIA registration to my honey house. Im going to achieve this goal over a few years and look forward to working with CFIA to help map out a plan to achieve full registration. Not only is this industry initiative a progressive move but it also shows how committed and dedicated we as beekeepers are to the quality of the product we produce. Just another feather in our cap!
I have made up a honey house registration manual to aid in CFIA certification of my facility. One point clearly made at the workshop was that every operation is unique and every operation will achieve compliance differently. The operating manual helps identify issues related to each operation and helps the producer explain how each issue will be managed. Many producers are complaining about having no direction, but I think they dont exactly understand the whole process. CFIA cant impose set actions to follow. Every operation holds its own challenges. CFIA is mearly there to help identify the issues and help the producers resolve them accordingly. So they provide a template to follow to help the producer structure their own manual. Im going to add a link to my manual and related forms I have created to register my facility. I am adding this link ONLY to provide an example of what I have done. Maybe it can be used to help other producers understand what the whole process is about. Before I made my manual I view other beekeeper registration manuals to get a handle how to organize the materials. Hope it helps!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 10:48 AM | Permalink
February 14, 2012
We have had another beautiful warm sunny calm day. Temperature rose to 4 degrees C. I am starting to loose track of how many times my bees would of been able to take a winter flight if they were wrapped up outside in my winter yards! I have been having trouble keeping my shed temperature down on these days. Today wasnt too bad, only rising to 9 degrees C but a week ago it rose to 12 degrees C inside! During these warm days my hives start to bulge from the entrances and become restless and active. I think I might be loosing bees on these days due to the increase of drifting. As I walk the ally ways I still see bees infrount of most hive entrances. 1 1/2 months to go till I set them out! For anyone interested, I am selling all my older tops bottoms and inner covers. I also have some frame feeders for sale. They are priced to sell and all in usable condition. Also I am interested in buying salvage Cowen Uncappers for cheap. I will pay $10-$50 for a machine depending on how use full it is to me and I will pick them up. Anyone with a junk pile, take a look! I will buy that scrap uncapper from you! Hive equipment construction is going well except for all my distractions. I am getting tired of assembling frames….
Posted by Ian Steppler at 06:45 PM | Permalink
February 03, 2012
I have not had a chance to fully comment on the convention. I have a few things to comment on, in a near future post.
I am in the process of uploading some bee vids on YouTube. These will replace the current videos I have on this web page, which dont seem to be working very well. This You Tube link is much simpler. I have one vid of the Ezyloader uploaded now but have not linked it to this page yet. To see it go to YouTube and search Ezyloader 300 to view it.
I have been busy with work in the wood shop lately. I have ramped up production building tops, bottoms, frames and boxes. I have alot of work ahead but planning to be done alot of it by the end of February. Well all depending on how many distractions I get.
I think I have my summer work force lined up for this coming season. If all plans hold it will be the same work force as last year! I cant wait!!
I wandered into the winter shed today. The fans were purging and the inside temp was being held at 10 degrees. There was quite a bit of bee activity and I noticed alot of bee drop on the floor. We have been having a real mild weather this winter. I actually wouldnt mind if the temp dropped to -10 degree C for the duration of the winter. It would help keep the shed cooler.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 07:20 PM | Permalink