Monthly Archives: February 2014

Feb 28 2014 – MBA 108th annual Convention

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Today I battled the blowing snow and made the trip into Winnipeg to attend the first day of the MBA’s 108th annual beekeeping convention.  The highlighted guest speakers are Randy Oliver from Grass Valley California and Dr. James Ellis from the University of Florida.  The highlight of the day was Randy’s first topic of discussion, Looking into the Biology of a Honeybee Colony.  All I have to say is this man is brilliant, and I enjoy listening to him speak.  He stands in front of us and talks about beekeeping beekeeping beekeeping and adds some depth to his topics with his scientific background.  He is speaking again tomorrow first thing and I’m going to be sure to be in attendance.

downloadA good portion of the afternoon was dedicated towards Lyme disease and this is something I am glad they spent some time on.  The deer tick has moved in and with it Lyme disease.  As a beekeeper working out in the grass I fall into a high risk bracket for Lyme disease.  After one of the Lyme disease topics during coffee I approached the presenter and talked to her about what I can do to minimize exposure to Lyme disease and came away with a clear strategy in hand to help manage the issue.  There were a few beekeepers who spoke on the subject and I was surprised just how many local beekeepers have had experience with Lyme disease from being bitten by deer ticks.  This is an issue that I am taking very seriously.

 

Here is some feedback on this blog posting.  I enjoy all the feedback from you guys!

>>Ian, on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border deer ticks and Lyme disease have been around for longer than the 20 years I’ve been in the area.

The deer ticks are so small that they are easy to miss.  One day 2 years ago I worked the bees in the afternoon then showered, ate, slept, awoke got dressed, and went to work.  As I was waiting for the person I was relieving to arrive I looked down at my hand and there was a deer tick adhering to the webbing between the first and second fingers of my right hand.  I could hardly believe it, but it hung on unobserved for about 18 hours almost in plain sight.
 
My wife and I worry more about our kids than we do ourselves.  Deer ticks mean a seasonal change in parenting.  In spring and summer we have to get the kids to check themselves and then we have to audit their skin checks and do an intense check of their hair.  Even though they spend an equal amount of time outside for some reason our middle child attracts ticks at twice to three times the rate as the others.
 
We have used some tick repellents on our clothing, but it is a major pain to remember to apply and reapply it.
 
For myself, I find that keeping the grass short around the hives seems to help.  You may want to consider getting a little gas mower, and getting the crews to mow around the hives that are most in deer territory.<<
This picture did not come across very well but it is one of the slides Randy Oliver showed.  If you want to know what it was all about, you should of been there!!

This picture did photograph very well but it is one of the slides Randy Oliver showed. If you are wondering what it is all about, you should have been there!!  He spelled out exactly what is happening with a newly arised pesticide issue.

 

Feb 23 2014 – Beekeeping staff is now in place

The Honey Farm's job acceptance letter

The Honey Farm’s job acceptance letter

My 2014 season beekeeping staff is now in place.  I have four full time beekeepers joining me this summer with three other part time casual beekeepers joining me throughout the honey flow.  My entire staff comes from the local surrounding area, high school students, a university student and two gals from town.  I’m bringing in a large staff this year as I plan on running operations differently this year.  With the new facility and with the addition of some new equipment I should be able to manage the workload more effectively by tapping into my local youthful work force.  Now I am able to add new comers to my work staff through out the season by simply adding them to a crew and I am also not going to find myself crippled as I loose a staff member throughout the heart of the season.  The problem that still remains is that I loose most of my workforce to school in September, but with such a strong work force during the summer, I plan on being caught up by September. The Key to executing this management strategy is the abundance of space I have built into my hot room which will allow me to pull honey everyday.  With a large inventory sitting in the hot room the extracting facility can run daily.  It’s a matter of providing a safe turn key operation to train my staff onto.

One of my newly made up nuc yards, June 2013

One of my newly made up nuc yards, June 2013

I’m also starting to shift towards developing a better in hive health management strategy.  This strategy has been a long time coming and I’m adopting this strategy from other beekeepers.  The idea is simple.  Build as many extra nucs as possible, hold them in reserve and use them to refresh older failing production hives.  As the summer work proceeds, failing hives are flagged and I will have one beekeeper within the staff to attend to these hives on a weekly basis.  To achieve this strategy I need man power, a trained beekeeper, and a separate nuc operation dedicated primarily for this objective.

Ag Days at Manitou Elementary School

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Today I was invited to participate in Manitou Elementary School’s Ag days. Twelve different speakers from the area were invited to speak to the kids about their sector of agriculture, mine being beekeeping.  The teachers from Manitou Elementary put together a very well run program breaking the entire elementary school into 12 different groups which rotated throughout the rooms every 20 minutes.  The day started at 9:00, had an hour break for lunch and I was done my presentations by 3:00.  The kids were fantastic, very well behaved and I was able to keep the groups attention for my twenty minute presentation easily.  In fact many of the students lagged behind the group to ask more questions wanting to talk more bees!

IMG_1042I had never done anything like this before and did not know what to expect.  I made sure to bring lots of props for the kids to look at and showed them enlarged pictures as I talked to help keep the kids attention.  I was a bit worried because even when talking bees to adults its not long til I get the glazed eyes look but these kids were glued to me and listened to what I had to say the entire time.  I dressed one kid in a bee suit from each group, I also showed them a bee hive with comb and showed the kids what a waggle dance looked like along with a bunch of other things.  Making a presentation twelve times over in frount of kids isnt as easy as it looks and I’m glad I prepared for the day.

Feb 18 2014

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I had a little helper in the honey house today as Sandy was away to the city for the day.  The two of us got lots done as we spent the morning reassembling, scraping and shining up the extractor.  Off to eat dinner with the farm crew then back to work In the honey house for the afternoon, however…

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…my little helper snuggled into my office for a nap.  After insisting on helping me all afternoon working on the extractor I slipped up to the house and got his blanket, pillow, honker the bear, and negotiated a deal to lie down for ten minutes before he helped me further.  I was able to keep working on the extactor while he slept for most of the afternoon.  But I was so tempted on joining him for a nap!! lol

Feb 17 2014

Moving wheat south!  Last month Adam contracted the last of our wheat through an American grain company.  Not only were they willing to take it within the month, but they also paid $1.50 more per bushel than our five local Canadian grain companies.  Protein premiums are also paid out on delivery.

Moving wheat south! Last month Adam contracted the last of our wheat through an American grain company. Not only were they willing to take it within the month, but they also paid $1.50 more per bushel than our five local Canadian grain companies would offer. Protein premiums are also paid out on delivery.