I sent a couple samples of bees away for diagnosis two weeks ago, one large sample (1400 bees) to the University of Manitoba apiculture lab Bee Diagnostic and Disease Monitoring programs and two smaller samples (200-300 bees) to the National Bee Diagnostic Centre in Beverlodge Alberta to test for vaorra and nosema. Today got a phone call from the UofM lab with my first results. The varroa count was 4 mites on 1400 bees, 0.2% infestation and the nosema count wasn 0.62 which he told me was very low. This is good news and it confirms what I have been seeing and proves the health of my bee hives. Cold weather has slipped through and the hives are clustering contently in their adequately prepared nest. I might put a bit more syrup out later in the week if the weather improves but otherwise I am enjoying the feeling of having my hives healthy and ready for winter.
I set up the melter tank to clean excluders today. I load about 50 into the tank to heat up, then take one at a time and swish it around for 10-20 seconds. The edges I am spending another minute scrubbing the propolis down a bit. Makes for a nice clean excluder afterwards. Mine were getting a bit full…lol
The manure crew made it here Thursday evening and we have been spreading shit for two days! Three monsterous spreading trucks, two huge pull behind verticals all loaded by a hi-hoe and our pay loader tractor. For every full round they were loading out 130 tonnes of manure and we spread an estimated 4-5000 tonnes of manure all over 350 acres of land. It was quite the production and we are glad we had nice weather to get it all out. This same crew is coming back next week to harvest the silage.
Yesterday we picked up the last of the late sewed bits and pieces and we can finally say we are done with harvest! This years harvest was quite the challenge as the weather turned wet just as we started. We were able to get all the crop off in good shape, only loosing one field to hail, and another field to rot. The majority of our crop was taken off with excellent quality mostly because we dried nearly 40,000 bushels and put air on most of the rest. This year was a big crop with the canola yielding 50 bushels, the wheat yielding 60 bushels and the barley yielding 75 bushels on gravel. It was one of those harvests when the crop just never came dry and the combines were sent to the field as soon as we seen the sun.
There was an email sent out from our chief provincial apiarist bringing to our attention that some beekeepers in the province were observing very low pollen stores in their hives. I have kept my hives on flowers ever since I moved them out last spring. I moved the hives to spring flows, out to the flowering summer fields, re-positioning them on late summer flows and then finished them on fall flows. My hives are still bringing in pollen. I have set out some BeePro and the hives are working it lightly… except one yard which was situated on Buckwheat, they have eaten half a bag!!! That tells you a bit about Buckwheat pollen… Looking around the area I am seeing lots of clover in late bloom. Clover, aster, golden rod and alfalfa. This is what I am seeing in the ditches and tree rows and fields around my bee yards.
The hives look to be in good shape. I’m setting out one more tote for the larger hives to take what they think they need. I have also set out some BeePro to keep those foragers busy during these warm days. I have been getting complains about bees from the neighbours! Thats the problem with populious fall time hives who have nothing to do on warm fall days…
I have modified the melter tank so that I have a tray to dump the wax cappings onto. This will allow the melted wax to drain off leaving the slum gum behind making it easier to clean out. Also I will be able to cook more wax out of the slum first time around. I may have to modify the tray further so that it extends the entire length of the tank so that I can get more wax in at a time. My hope is to be able to run the melter continuously tapping off honey and wax at any time throughout its operation. And if it works as I imagine, I will melt my wax straight from the spinner throughout the production season. This will keep my melter honey in tip top shape for resale. One additional feature I will be adding is a radiant heat cover which will be used to melt the wax off the tray and cook as much of the wax out of the slum gum as possible. With the quick initial melt down I will be able to tap more honey off sooner and keep it in better shape.
I tapped off the wax melter today and yielded more wax than I had cooling trays! Rendering wax on a large scale is quite the process and a bit more work than I had anticipated. The amount of slum gum caught me off guard. I strained it off and dumped it into a wax barrel which will be sold to a wax rendering outfit who can process this stuff further. Also from one barrel I tapped off 1/3 of a barrel melter honey. I am not sure what to do with it, but Its there… Ill find sale for it somewhere. The technique I used to pour the trays has the wax absolutely clean and will fetch top dollar. The buyer I found for this premium wax will be pleased.
After watching The Wax Melter I decided to modify my melter to catch the slum gum and make clean out easier. I’m inserting a catch tray where I will load the wax and where it will hold the slub gum as the melted wax and honey drains off. This will make clean out easier.