Old farm boss…new farm boss. “alright fella’s, this is what has to get done”
I have been making a list of projects I want to get done this year. Probably, like most years only part of the list will get executed… but I will have a game plan at hand to accomplish these tasks. Every season I write down “thoughts on the go” and make a list of problems that has happened. Usually more than one page!! But it helps me reflect on the things that went right, things that went wrong and gives me ideas to help make changes to my plans.
From time to time I will talk about supplemental feeding on beesource. Its a topic that draws lots of opinions. There are studdies here…professional opinions there…anecdotal opinions there… its hard to sort through lots of this stuff. Randy Oliver performed an excellent trial to help clear the muddy waters; Randy Oliver’s bee feed test . Its a study that should be taken at face value as most of what is in beekeeping is local. Performance of some of the feed types in his trials did not match the performance of some of these feed types in other trials and he recognized that fact in his discussion. Even Randy’s writings can’t be taken as Gospel.
Last spring I did things a bit differently and was able to pack dry feed into the hives through tough spring conditions. I also was able to draw some attention to dry feed in the fall, which I had not been able to achieve before. This is an area I will continue to tweak. Now that I have gotten my feet wet last year with mixing my own patties I’m going to dive right in. I’m planning on mixing a bunch of different batches of feed to see which one works best in my hives. BeePro, Ultra Bee and Brewers Yeast will be mixed up separately and dispersed randomly through out the operation. One thing I notice I do routinely when working hives is that, I go about it “all in or none”. I don’t leave any variables as controls or test other type products at the same time. We beekeepers are keenly observant and we should be using this talent to our advantage. Mixing things up a bit will help us determine if something is working or not.
One disadvantage of spring patty feeding is if conditions are not adequate and I do not get my timing right, I end up needing to work around unconsumed patties while working through the hive. This leads to be extremely distracting. Perhaps a wax paper envelope would help keep the patty contained which would make moving the patty easier if needed.
One tip I have learned while chatting with beekeepers about mixing patties is to cut the water out of the mix and use HFCS. This helps keep the patty from drying out and going hard. Interesting thought.
Here is a patty recipe I am considering for this spring;
10 lbs pollen
20 lbs BEE PRO
20lbs Brewers Yeast
3/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 TBSP Lactobacillus (Probiotic Powder)
Mixed with approximately 38 lbs sugar
2.5 gallons of HOT water (adjust for consistency)
Makes about 110 lbs of patties
NOTE: I found this recipe to be a little on the runny side and needed
to use wax paper on each side of the patty. If not using paper on each
side things get MESSY!
Weights from my kitchen scale:
1 gallon BEE PRO= 5lbs
1 gallon brewers yeast= 4.5 lbs
1 gallon of pollen= 5 lbs
Strong hives were getting 4lbs at a time.
Another operational strategy I am going to adopt this year is not to turn money making opportunities away like I routinely do. I am not going to say no, very often lol. I dabbled with the idea last year with a few small operators and things worked out very well. I have the facility, the bees (if all things stay the same) the work staff and the commitment and people coming to me for answers. My objective is to exploit all this and turn it into ca$h. Custom extraction, custom wintering, custom wax rendering (small scale anyway), excluder cleaning maybe? mated queens available for sale, nucs available for sale, pollination services available. Just recently I have been approached by numerous individuals looking for hive products like pollen, propolis, clean unfiltered wax and royal jelly… Yes I can do that! For a charge of course 😉 One area that I will definitely be tapping into is the used equipment market. I have had floods of inquiries and a waiting list on sale of my used equipment. I plan on capitalizing on
this simply by bringing in new equipment (as my box and frame builder smiles) to gradually cull out older equipment. Not only used equipment but I have inquiries on new equipment. Perhaps putting my staff to work during slow times building frames will yield revenue off of rainy days.
All this is doable if I am able to organize my thoughts into a workable plan.