These are tough harvests to manage through. This harvest is turning out to be late, wet and long. We began drying the crop right from the start (being a September harvest) anticipating the possibility of wet weather settling in. As feared continual showery weather has dramatically slowed harvest leaving us to chip away at our crop acres combining tough grain over the last few weeks. All of our air bins are full and our grain dryer has been running 24 hours. The new drying facility runs itself, automatically cycling the grain through allowing us to work elsewhere and not having to babysit it. This has allowed us to push the bushels through and keep the momentum of harvest going forward. October is upon us, its time to be done harvest.
Today I slipped into Winnipeg to buy a couple hundred liters of syrup to finish off the second round of feeding. The tanker load is now done so to finish off my feeding for the season I will pull a few loads from BeeMaid as I need it. The weather this fall has been favourable for feeding and the forecast suggests it will continue for at least another week. We are going to start the third round on Monday topping up the light hives and shifting pails.
Today we finished extracting, the honey production season finally comes to an end. The tally is final now and kind of unbelievable coming off a near disaster of a spring. 280 barrels, 185, 000 lbs coming from 900 colonies yielding over 200 lbs per hive. Quite amazing as 200 of those hives were two lbs NZ packages made up on the 17th of May and 150 of those hives were two frame nucs managed in a single brood chamber. Also amazing as I fully drew out 900 boxes of foundation! The production I experienced in August was such that I have never seen before. July 25th, honey production was slow, Aug 1st we started collecting honey, by Aug. 5th we were behind with space. The nectar flow was so strong mid to near the end of August that the frames were being filled instantly as I placed them back out including the two frames of foundation I inserted PER box. Never have I seen foundation filled out so fast. I left honey in the field this season, my production numbers would of been a lot higher if I had another 1000 boxes of drawn comb and did not have any foundation to draw out. Makes my head spin to think about it! All in all the production season was a success and the bees are in good shape going into the fall.
Tuesday we finished with our 1st round of feeding and not a moment too soon. The hives are packed full of bees sporting large brood nests leaving very little room for food reserves. I could have been a little quicker on the feed, but my sucrose delivery got tied up with shipping delays. We will start our second feeding round on Monday and try to get these hive filled up before October rolls around.
But for now we take a breath, and look forward to this weekend off.