April 28, 2012
I have started another round. This round consists mainly a prep for the upcoming split where as Im breaking the boxes and scraping up the frames to allow my split work to go smoothly and quickly. I also asses the hive strength to make my splitting decision easier at that time. I have found my hives are looking strong and robust. Id say Im marking at least 75% of my hives to be split down. Two boxes of bees and frames of brood! I have also found that my queens are holding up very well as compared to other springs. Why??? I dont exactly know why but Im thinking with the health of my hives this year, perhaps diseases like nosema and viral infections from mites will be low. These “hidden” diseases are hard to assess visually and makes diagnosis hard without lab testing so queen failures look random in nature. I have re queened a few hives because of drone laying but other than that Im happy with the way things look. This cold weather has interrupted queen laying a bit though. I am noticing the hives are in need of a bit of feed. I ran for a load of syrup yesterday so that I can put a gallon on all the hive during this round of work. The flowers are close to coming out and maybe next week we will start seeing fruiting trees bloom along with the dandelions but a bit of feed right now will do them well. The price of sugar is sure high….. here is hoping for a good steady flow of dandelions this coming month!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 11:17 AM | Permalink
April 19, 2012
All the hives are moved into their summer locations now. I have been chipping away at this job over the last week. The move has been real easy thanks to the coolish weather that has settled down on us. It actually makes my this work nice because there is no bee activity to have to work around. I could pretty much move bees all day long. Sorting hives into their yards sounds quick and easy but every year I loose and gain yards. Just for an example, I got burnt out of a nice yard last year because of a land clearing outfits oversight but thanks to the understanding and embarrassment of the land owner, I picked up two other great locations. I also lost another yard to land clearing and lost another to my cousin wanting to re establish an old yard sight as his own. We farm 3000 acres, ranch another 1500 acres so I do have the ability to establish new yards. It all takes time and I am glad to of had this last week to help me spread my hives out.
Earlier in the month I put protein patties into the hives as I usually do every spring. My first assessment of the consumption of the patties was good but after talking to a neighbouring beekeeper who said his patties were not being eaten at all, I took another more in depth look. Id say after two weeks with the patty in place, 50-90% was consumed. This puzzled me because the years before I usually have two patties eaten with in four weeks. Usually I relate poor patty consumption to queenlessness or laying problems but after I got digging deeper into the hives I noticed full frames of brood. What I also noticed was alot of stored pollen in and around the brood nest, more than I would usually find. Also I noticed while scraping out dead hives that they were packed full of pollen. So I decided to save my money and hold off on giving the hives a second patty.
Cracking the lids of some of the hive today showed lots of bees and edges of the patties left. Maybe they would of eaten another patty but I dont think it would of really mattered. With the amount of pollen I found in the nest it self and from all the pollen entering the hives with our nice early spring I think the hives were building quite well without any supplemental feeding so far. The hives that I peaked into looked great and I think with the warm weather foretasted for next week the bee hive activity will be nuts. They should of gone through one brood cycle by now and the meds have been in for about three weeks. I see the odd dandelion and notice the fruiting trees just waiting to pop.
My brother is just chomping at the bit as he watches our nieghbours poke in fields here and there. I think this next week the land will come ready and spring land work starts!
We are down to one cow left to calve. We will have calved 400 cows with only one death at birth. Count the couple dozen of twins and Andre has a 110% plus calving average! I think the industry average runs around the 5-10% loss rate. We have booked 200 acres of silage corn, up from 100 acres last year. We are switching completely out of grass and forage feed towards corn silage. So many advantages logistically and a fraction of the cost of traditional forage. Its a switch that should of been made years ago but some times old habits die hard. On the surface grass grows for nothing but after all the operating costs of fuel machinery and labour the costs are significant. One big advantage is we can scale the feed to the animals with the ability to add barley or oats if energy requirements need it. Zero waste and half the man power to feed it! Lots have been happening with the cattle business here. Andre has taken over and has made a huge shift towards a more efficient higher return model of business. The optimism in the cattle business is very positive!
Posted by Ian Steppler at 11:09 AM | Permalink
April 10, 2012
Cold weather has moved in and we have seen -10 degree C nights. The temperature has dipped below normal and the progression of spring stands still. Im using this cooler weather to fill in dead spots and move some yards out to their summer locations. Not much else I can do with the bees other than prep and ready equipment for the spring split. My California queen order has been delayed for two weeks, which pushes my split back to the back half of May. Im thinking it might make my work run late but there is not much I can do about it. I’llI re adjust my spring rounds to make things work. I have not spoken to anyone about the actual reason for the delay yet but Im assuming its due to the cold weather they are having right now.
Seeding has started in the area on the sandy lighter lands. Usually when the lighter lands are ready we are about a week later. Rule of thumb is to start seeding when the land is ready. By the way the land looks we will be seeding next week for sure, all depending on the weather. If we start next week we will be not too far off our “comfort” start time. This year we have 3000 acres lined up to sew and a new line of equipment to seed it. The equipment is just about ready to go it will be just a matter of making that first pass.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 10:20 AM | Permalink
April 03, 2012
I’ve finished my top, bottom and box construction winter project. I was hoping to get more built because I think I’ll be needing more tops and bottoms board pallets this spring!! Just when I sell all my used single tops I think I may actually need them!! Ha ha. I think I’ll have to find a rainy couple of days and build a bit more equipment. Anyway I have sent my equipment to get dipped by a local bee box builder and the first load of equipment looks fantastic! I’m trying out this box dipping instead of painting to see how I like it. I’m getting tiered of painting and I think dipping will help preserve my equipment and keep it in better shape. I have brought in a bunch of new boxes due to a bartering deal I made on some cattle and with this deal I might be able to have my entire operation turned over with new equipment over the next few years. These new boxes look fantastic and I would like to keep them that way. Im also at the stage of my beekeeping career that I have settled into a certain style of beekeeping. Dipping the boxes works well into my upgrading plan.
The bees are flying and foraging on all the early blooming trees now. They have pretty much completely turned away from the soy flour. Most of the patties I’ve put on are consumed so I think Ill be making another round in a week or so. Right now I turn to prepping equipment.
Posted by Ian Steppler at 11:19 AM | Permalink