Monthly Archives: March 2012

March 2012

March 31, 2012

March 2012

Im getting a few email comments and questions about the short video I have posted on YouTube of my use of the Ezyloader. I have to apologize about the quality of my videos. My camera isnt the best of quality and I have a neat little program which helps me edit these kind of things but by no means is my work professional. But I think it gets the point across. I have had a lot of people ask for pictures and videos of this machine and I hope what I have here helps a bit. Ill keep posting pics and vids as I go along. Posting my stuff and getting feed back is alot fun!

Anyhow, I have talked about this machine in past posts. You will find most of my comments on the Ezyloader in fall postings. Ill re hash a few comments here in regards to some feed back I have been getting.

Typically we pull a lot of canola honey in this area. Canola has become one of the major crops grown on the prairies across western Canada and lucky it produces some of the finest honey that can be collected from its flowers! Canola will help us bring in yearly average yields of 150 lbs to 250 lbs per hive. In my video you see boxes stacked 7-8 high. I run doubles so you will notice that Im pulling 5-6 honey boxes on some hives. Those boxes are packed full of honey! Each of the boxes are bringing in an average of 45 lbs of honey so add 10-15 lbs for the box weight so on average im bringing in 60 lbs per box. With the supers stacked 5 high, that’s 300lbs my guys are lifting off the hive with the loader. The loader capacity is 650 lbs so that kink of lift is no sweat but if you notice in the video manuvering that kind of weight takes a little bit of effort. My loader is equipped with a self leveling unit, which in my opinion is a must. When maneuvering lifts of 300 plus lbs with an improperly leveled machine the work to move the load is much more difficult. With a level arm, the load is mearly moved, with an improperly leveled arm the load then has to be pulled or pushed around. Less effort, happier workers !! I now use the escape board to clear bees. Its basically fool proof but the catch is you need the ability to lift all the boxes to insert the escape board. In the video you will notice I have one empty box under the escape board for the bees to move into. I find that more than enough space but a second box is needed asap for hives that are continuing on the flow. It usually takes between 1 and 3 night to clear the boxes, I usually leave it on for 2 nights. All cracks must be sealed otherwise robbing may cause trouble. A nice thing about this method is when pulling off the boxes, I can get into a yard, load the supers and leave within half an hour. No time for the bees to start robbing! It has made later season pulling much more manageable.

I like to run a crew of 4 including myself when working the yards and honey house. I could easily get away with 3 but having four hands on deck gets thing done so much more efficiently. I generally have one of my experienced guys on the arm, one guy handling empty boxes or on the truck depending if we are inserting or taking way supers, one guy adding boards or clearing boards and one guy ( myself) filling were needed. Seems like it takes more time to set up as we enter the yard and clean up at the end of the yard than it takes to actually work the yards during the pull!! The main thing is it almost feels like we are having a bit of fun. But that still might be a stretch, because after all we are working in the extreme heat, getting stung and working long hours. It seems fun to me anyway!

I have the loader set up on a 16 foot deck witch works great. The arm is a 16 foot reach and when I have the truck loaded with full supers I have it weighted to its max. Thats why I chose to install it on a F550. A one tonne would be too small. I also did not want to install it on a larger unit because this is the truck I make all my rounds with. A larger truck would be far to cumbersome and harder on fuel. I have things set up now that all my work is done with this one unit. All my stuff is available on it and I treat this truck as my mobile work station. I would not have things set up in any other way. This is an awesome way to work hives. The arm is always within my reach!

So there is a few comments, hope it all helps.

Posted by Ian Steppler at 11:03 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2012

March 2012

Our first annual bull sale held on the 27th went on without a hitch. The weather was miserable but most of our committed buyers came out and we had a good bull sale. We sold 52 bulls with an average of $3609 selling 5 bulls over $7000 with 2 top sellers bringing $7250 each. We were very pleased with the results of the sale and feel everyone who purchased felt they got great value for their money spent. My brother Andre who manages the cattle operation has spent countless hours selling this select grouping of bulls raised primarily from our established 400 head pure bred herd. The buyers in the barn commented on the quality of the bulls we had on offer and they bid accordingly. Andre has many years experience working with other breeders bull sales within the charolais breed. With that he has brought all his sales knowledge and experience back to our farm which enabled him to set up his own sales program and facility in a very professional well run manner. We hired great sales management and I cant say enough good about them. They handled things professionally and brought an ease to the whole sales program. Now, with one sale under our belt we will know what to expect with this kind of sales arrangement and with that we will know more of whats ahead. Alot of our regular buyers told us they were uneasy with our shift from private treaty to an annual bull sale but I think after experiencing the sale they can be assured that we will still be able to supply them with a good valued quality bull to fit their breeding program. With a crew of nearly 20 from fount to back we were able to pull off a good sale.

The weather has turned cooler and my bee work has come to a complete stop. I have gotten a lot of spring hive work done which is awesome because compared to last year I still had my bees locked up indoors. With this weather I can turn back to the wood shop and finish building projects. I also have a few boxes to scrape and clean up for my splits. This wet cooler weather is welcome. Things were progressing too fast earlier to a point where we were actually starting to think about seeding early April. Way too early and way out of our comfort range. If we can just get the weather to keep delaying the progression of spring to the end of April we will be able to work within our “normal” comfort range. Here is hoping for a predictable easy growing season this year!!!!!

Posted by Ian Steppler at 04:40 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2012

March 2012

Its not March 20th yet and we have just had four or so days of plus 20 degree C days. The forecast remains favorable and the bees are responding to the weather amazingly! I have made my first round through the hives and they look fantastic. I have recorded a 7% loss over 697 hives! I would say that at least 75%-80% of these hives are boomers and the hives are displaying a content satisfied appearance. The bee activity in the yards is tremendous and I am noticing robbing of the dead outs already. I think Im going to have to move yards out as soon as I get my second medication and feeding round done. It has been at least 5 years since I have had a successful winter like this one. This early start has helped things along as well. We will see what the weather brings but as things sit now things are looking positive!

Posted by Ian Steppler at 08:12 AM | Permalink

March 15, 2012

March 2012

The hives are out and the bees are flying! I started Monday night and finished late late Tuesday night. Things went very well this year and again I enjoyed using the Ezyloader. It took me just under two hours for a round trip. The were loaded out of the shed with the skidsteer eight at a time onto the truck and then off the truck two at a time with the Ezyloader into the yards. I have all 700 of the hives spread over seven different yards. I think next year I m going to try to spread the work load over another night. Monday night was good, I got three loads out by two AM but Tuesday night I worked till after five. I was getting tired at the end and started to push myself to get things done. The problem is when a person gets tierd accidents happen and being by myself I could get hurt without anyone around. To note, I really enjoyed my work this time and I think it had something to do with the ease of use with that arm. I love the sweet smell of bee poop this time of year. One of my favorable things about beekeeping is the walk around in a freshly set out yard watching the bees take their first flight. This year the bee cloud was tremendous with so many bees in the air. My quick spot check is showing a fantastic wintering. I am making a full feeding round feeding one gallon per hive. My second round will be with medication in a few days. The weather is fantastic with a very favorable forecast ahead. Hope it holds! We need a break once and a while,

Posted by Ian Steppler at 12:25 PM | Permalink

March 11, 2012

March 2012

The shed is packed full of snow and working wonderfully so far. The temp right now is 6 degrees and the shed is holding at 8. The bees seem more content today than they did yesterday and not as many are bearding out the front. Before I packed in the snow I swept up another barrel of bees bringing my total to 4 1/2 barrels. I also rigged up two 24″ cattle show fans to my winter sheds air intake vents to pump more air into the building which is helping my air exchange. Now Im off to get my truck, loader and skid steer ready to go. Im expecting everything to be in order but at least I have given myself one working day to resolve any problems that might arise. This weather feels real good and I cant wait to get the bees out into it. Soy flour and patties are being bought on Tuesday and I expect the bees to be well into it by the weekend!

I dont have any experience in setting hives out earlier than the end of March. Without experience its hard for me to weigh the risks of doing so. I have tapped into some beekeepers to share some thoughts with me and they were very obliging with their responses. They gave me some real good stuff and Id like to share some of it here,

>>Hi Ian: The earliest that I have puy bees out is Mar. 21. I have always found that the early ones out do real well no negative effects in the past. What we will do if forcast holds true is move out about 250 to take pressure off building. Remember warm will not hurt bees inside as long as they have lots of humidity. Hope that helps. Do not be afraid to call anytime, I will tell you what we are doing and why if it will help you make a decison.

>>Hi Ian , Here’s what I know about going early or late:

In ‘97 a fellow beekeeper couldn’t move his bees cause his yard was an island. It got pretty warm and the bees bearded on the hives every day, but when the hives came out late, they were fine. So I don’t usually panic about a little warm weather.

In alberta, when they get a chinook, some guys that are on pallets will move all or some of their stacks out into the home yard, and let them fly for a day or two, then move back in, so that’s an option. My cousin did this last year, moved them all out, checked each, removed dead outs, gave each a pollen patty then moved them back in. His hives looked fantastic in May.

There are guys who have light winter wraps that will move their hives out about now, wrap them and keep them wrapped until may.

I’m watching the weather too. I have hives at my uncles and the forcast right now for next week is like 18 degrees. We’re only looking at low teens here.

Not sure what to do, except the best strategy is probably to split the difference, move enough out that the pressure is off the building a little. Then if the forcast gets ugly, its not impossible to move back again.

My grandfather once told me, only a fool would move his bees out before april fools… But in his day, you’d never wait till november to move them in either. One of the worst effects of global climate change is the subtlest one. Ag people rely on generations of experience. If that becomes unreliable, we’re in a lot of trouble.

Posted by Ian Steppler at 01:33 PM | Permalink

March 10, 2012

March 2012

The weather has turned mild once again! The temp has risen to 6 degrees and the winter shed is holding at 12 ! Most all my hives are bearded out and the floor is once again covered in bees. Tonight I’m going to try to hold the temperature in the shed down by packing the shed full of snow. The idea is to increase the humidity in the shed so as when the air is ventilated through the building heat will be removed with the humidity. That and the snow is also cold. This week looks like a mild one with forecasted temperatures above 15 degrees C maybe reaching 20 degrees C by the weekend. The mild days start Wednesday so I’m going to spend the next couple of days prepping my yards and maintaining equipment. I have kind of seen this early start to spring coming for a couple of months now and I have been battling with the decision to set my hives out early or not. I dont want to set them out on a nice day to have them endure a sudden cold streak March sometimes deals out. But with this forecast and by the way the bees look in the shed, I dont think I have a choice but to get them out. Long range forecast looks promising so it looks like spring starts early this year. My plan is to set the hives out Monday and Tuesday night into yards that I am hoping the snow has melted away. I will push some snow tomorrow if I need to but I am thinking the sun is going to have that job done by the time the hives are out.

You would think I would have things ready to go, having all winter to prepare for spring, but again it seems as Im scrambling to get everything in order. I guess maybe I was expecting an early set out but planning for a April 1st set out as I typically do. Or maybe its just the way it is !

Posted by Ian Steppler at 05:16 PM | Permalink

March 06, 2012

March 2012

Finally we got snow!  I do not want to sound excited but it is a very welcome sight for me.  We got about a 20 cm dump here with winds causing drifting.  It has taken us a few days to completely dig out and now things are back to normal.

Today I pushed up some snow banks.  I don’t usually purposely push banks of snow but I want to make a snow reserve for later this week and into next.  The weather is again turning mild and thanks to the freshly fallen snow, the temps are to stay around the 5 degree mark.  No need to panic but with these warm days my accessibility to snow is going to decrease.  I usually don’t have any thoughts of access to snow at this time of year becasue we usually have piles of it laying around from the months before hand but this year the only snow we have is the nice stuff that has freshly fallen.  It will disappear quick in warm temperatures so a nice big snow bank will keep some snow on hand for at least a couple of weeks.  According to the forecast I will not have to use much this week but I’m getting ready for the following week.  If there is a spike in temp next week I am going to have to pack that shed right full of snow to keep my temps down.  The bees have to stay inside for at least two more weeks if not three, its way too early to even think about setting them out yet.  But if the mild weather continues to flow this month, I am going to have to make a move.   Who knows, March weather can turn on a dime and we will back into a cold spell.  And that’s exactly why I have to try to keep the bees in the shed as long as I can manage.  This last bit of cold weather has been a bit of a relief.  Last year we were struggling with so much snow and cold weather held on well into April.  This year I’m hoping I can get the bees out last week of March and have them build into April.  Here is hoping!

Posted by Ian Steppler at 09:44 AM | Permalink