Monthly Archives: February 2013

Building Bleachers

100_0794I have decided to build bleachers for our bull sale.  I drafted a plan to build two 16′ bleachers with five rows of bench, a drop step isle and a stair way.  I’m going to use 2×10 lumber for the bench and isle way.  Should have the project done by the middle of next week.

The March Push

100_2371The daylight is getting longer and that sun is getting warmer.  Its still February but Im already getting into the spring time frame of mind.  My wife tells me its about this time of year, after the first real mild day after a cold stretch, is when she starts to loose me again to my thoughts of work and plans ahead.  I am getting very excited about this years beekeeping season.  One thousand hives, new extraction facility, upgrade of equipment, good crew lined up, solid work strategy.  I feel prepared and optimistic on the season ahead!  But I still have a lot of bee and farm projects to complete before I get back into the bees.  So much work that Im going to have to start a push to get it all done.

I tend to spend some evening hours on a beekeeping web forum, www.beesource.com. Its a place where 15 000 beekeeper from around the world chit chat about beekeeping and beekeeping issues.  It ranges form hobbiest to full out commercial beekeepers.  I like this site as its a place where I can go and indulge in all the current issues of our industry.

One of those issues right now is the use of pesticides on agricultural fields.  And to be more specific, seed treated systemic neonicotinoid insecticides.  Beekeepers around the world have been loosing hives, and loosing hives in an unusual fashion.  There is huge discussion about these losses being linked to neonicotinoid insecticide usage on our agricultural crops.  Hundreds and hundreds of studies on this subject which lead to thousand to tens of thousands of papers and articles related to honeybee loss in relation to neonicotinoids.  Its an area were the anti chemical lobby groups have taken hold of and are using honeybees and their health as a frount to their anti chemical/anti agribusiness campaign.  They are saturating the news with their agenda which has absolutely nothing to do with beekeeping or honeybee health.

Its hard for a beekeeper like me to read all these studies and make sense of any of it.  It all relates directly to my ability to keep my bees healthy and alive, yet the bombardment of conflicting information is confusing the issue.  It is also confusing the public.

The beekeeping industry has found a man to help decipher all of these studies red flagging the propaganda and bringing these studies to understandable terms to understand.  He has the knowledge back ground and ability to work through these studies and point out the flaws, the biases and improper research techniques which I would have no idea when reading through one of these papers.  But he is not there to mearly criticize papers, he is actively involved with the on going research of honeybee health in relation to pest, disease and pesticide use.  He has presented the industry with a balanced perspective which is drawn from actual properly prepared study of the issue.

I would suggest anyone interested in honeybee health and how it relates to pathogen and pesticide  pressures in our environment to visit Randy Oliver’s webpage  scientificbeekeeping.com .

The Bull Pen

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Sometimes these animals crack me up!  Today I wandered into one of the bull pens to take a picture of last weeks feature bull, 151Y.  The picture we had up was okay but did not show the caliber of bull he actually is.  151Y is a very quiet bull and very photogenic, quite the ham actually, and as you can see in this picture, so was the rest of the pen!  It seemed as they all wanted their picture taken because they kept interrupting my photo time with 151Y, playing like puppy dogs wanting attention !  The only thing was these puppy dogs are nearly 1500 lbs !  Eventually I got a few good Andre approved snaps of 151Y, which are currently up on the cattle page.  As I left the pen, these guys insisted I take their picture, so here you go, here is a picture of my puppy dogs, ! ! !

Selling Bees

Nucs being fed up, October 2012

Nucs being fed up, October 2012

I have a number of beekeepers interested in buying hives from me and the funny thing is I have not advertised any hives for sale!  I could of easily sold 200 hives by now but I refrain as I plan on using everything during this production year.  I will see how my bees fair this winter and might have some available to move if this spring works out right.  There are some beekeepers who insist I put them on my sales list.  Im thinking of stepping up my nuc production this season to possibly fill some of this demand.  Means more work but the pay off is worth it.

I had a couple of beekeepers stop by last week and bought up all the used equipment I had for sale!  All my surplus tops, bottoms, inner covers and boxes have been sold out.  It sold for what I asked for and  these beekeepers received great value.  Nice to move these piles !

Battling the Storm

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February seem to be determined to bury our house in a snow bank as the wind continuously drifts the snow into the yard. The kids absolutely love the snow banks as they are busy digging forts and sliding down the hills. I cant even explain the amount of excitement that rose from finding out that our door had pretty much drifted shut! Ahhhhg,…. exciting times around here, its hard to govern all that energy!

This weather is a bit frustrating as it makes for more work in the cattle yard.  Chores are delayed until the worst of the storm has passed.  No use burying the fresh feed and bedding with snow.  With winds like the one last night, we sleep comfortably knowing all the livestock are well sheltered.

Escape Board

Bee Escape Board Top

Bee Escape Board Top

Bee Escape Board Bottom

Bee Escape Board Bottom

Lewis escape cones

Lewis escape cones

I have been getting interest in this type of escape board I use to pull honey.  The escape board I use is a screened rim which has a recessed valley down the middle with ten escape cones, five on each side.  What happens is when the boards are placed in between the honey supers and the brood nest, the bees will migrate downwards as they naturally move down to touch the queen.  As they move down they run into the screen which naturally moves them downwards into the valley.  In the valley, they naturally move towards the nearest exit, the cones.  As the bees funnel through the cones, they can not re enter thus revealing all the bees from the honey boxes.  Two nights will get most of them, three nights will get all of them.

The cones are made by a local beekeeper / box maker, lewisandsons.net. These cones are made with more plastic and are made with a push in feature.  I would highly recommend these cones to anyone interested in making escape boards.

Another Good Day of Skiing

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Another good day at the ski hill.  Couldn’t ask for better weather!  The drive home was pretty quiet, the ski hill sure wears the kids out.

We have 280 calves now, looking at 120 ish to go.  Calving has gone pretty well so far as we are still up on our numbers.  Preparation for the bull sale has started and Andre has been busy on the phone with interested buyers.  If calving out 400 cows wasnt busy enough, add on a bull sale!  Time management really comes into play during these busy times of the year.  Sometimes it seems like that clock on the wall speeds up a bit !

People ask me how we manage our work load through out the year between five guys and three relatively large enterprises.  I could get into great detail explaining how we manage our man hours involved in running this farm and how we plan and accomplish our tasks.  We have worked out a system that seems to be running quite well.  But it comes down to a simple principle that is best described by a quote from John Candy out of Trains Plains and Automobiles, “You know, the finest line a man will walk is between success at work and success at home.  I got a motto— Like your work, love your wife (family).”  No wiser words ever spoke on the subject.

Cattle In Motion – Video Bull Pen

Our video Bull pen is up,
You can view any of the 70 sale bulls at this address
http://www.stepplerfarms.com/Bullvideo.html

Bull Pics

Cattle In Motion up loaded the bull videos today and we now have everything linked up to our website.  The bulls look fantastic and we are very impressed with the quality of each video.  There is no identification of the bulls except for the sales lot number.  The idea is for anyone who is interested in viewing the bull pen to have a copy of our sales catalog in hand to assist with pedigree information.  As long as our viewer has high speed internet, they will be able to take a sneak a peak and browse the pen at their leisure.