First week in and things are going well. The nectar flow is strong, the boxes are full, a good routine has been set in the honey house and out pulling honey in the yards. All that needs to be done now is to keep things rolling. The last of the 1200 hives will be set on Tuesday, which will be brought into the hot room on Thursday. There is a back log of boxes in the hot room, which means lots of work ahead for my extracting crew! Everyday, 250-300 boxes are sent through the extractor, and one semi load of honey is ready for shipment. As we pull the honey we leave each hive with three boxes of fresh empty comb. We have had adequate moisture and as long as this heat continues these bees will continue packing in the honey as long as those flowers hang on. The early canola is done, the late canola has a week or so left (far enough along that it is hardly worth moving hives out to right now), not as much alfalfa in the area anymore but the clover in the ditches and pastures is still in full bloom.
Every guy I hire onto the honey farm knows the term ‘bee yard hot’ and today was one of those bee yard hot days. As a boss its tough finding that balance between pushing the guys to keep going and pull back so that the guys don’t fall victim of heat exhaustion. I like to call these hot days ‘honey making days’! As long as those thunder clouds hold off on the hail, all that rain and the following hot sun makes for greenhouse growth conditions. This year I started pulling honey a bit early as the top box is anywhere between 1/3 to 1/2 full. MC samples from the middle honey boxes test at 18% so there is no question the honey is ready. The weight on the bee arm today told us the boxes are heavy. The season starts again, it seems as we just finished off from last year!
After three days away at the Carman Country Fair I am back and spent the day touring and assessing my apiary to prepare for the weeks work ahead. The hives are full and starting to cap up to the top box. The top box is anywhere between 50-75% full with bees working every frame. My spot checks show my supering assessments were close to bang on and there is no need to shift boxes. Rains which have been following this heat has cranked nectar production into high gear and this week either another 1000 boxes go out or we have to start harvesting honey. So with that in mind and with my urge to start the honey pull a bit early, I have decided to send out 400 escape boards Wednesday/Thursday which means the extraction begins Saturday (weather permitting). It is time to get that honey house in order!
I was asked last week by a beekeeper where I move my hives after the canola quits flowing. I know he reads my blog, so my answer to him is this; the bees move primarily to the clover and alfalfa. I have been working with my local RM council to find a compromise to their generalized broad leaf ditch spraying program. Our arrangement has been worked out to spot spray their target weed populations within my apiary. These ditches provide an abundance of forage which is one more reason why my hives are flourishing. By targeting ditch weed populations, weeds are controlled and beneficial plants such as clover, alfalfa, aster and goldenrod are left to provide nourishment to not only my bees but also every other natural pollinator known on the prairies. With fields managed so intensive and with windrows, trees bluffs and natural wetlands turning into arable land, ditches have become our wild pollinators only refuge. Leaving a little bit of space along roadways is all that is needed, and in my eye a great compromise between the pressures of farming and nature. Beekeepers fall under that heading of nature and I truly appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding on this issue, my livelihood depends on it 🙂
Thank you to all that came out to the Carman Fair 4-H Steer Sale.
Mr. Moonopoly sold to Gilbraith Farm Services for $3.80/ lbs.
Curious George sold to MMJ, Scott Johnston for $3.50/ lbs
We appreciate all your support. It was quite the experience for the kids!
One of the kids asked me before they entered the sales ring, “Dad, what if nobody bids on my steer?” This was a question to me that focused to the very core of everything we do here on the farm and that question was exactly the reason we have our kids in this 4-H beef project. My answer to him was merely a reflection of what we did up to this point; we picked a good steer, we spent hours halter breaking him, grooming him and preparing him for the sale. We pulled the kids from school one day and visited face to face with potential buyers showing them our animals, telling them about our program and asking for their sales support. Even after all that work, that doubt remained in his head, just as each and every food producer has in their head when selling their product. So my answer to him was “remember all the work you put into your steer, and remember all the businesses we met with asking for sales support? We don’t know who showed up and we don’t know how much money they brought, but we have done everything we can to ensure a bid, its all we can do”
And with that my kids lead their steers into the sales ring and they drew countless bids from the crowd. An experience which tied up all the work done to this point and a reward for my kid’s hard work. More importantly a sign from the Ag business community reinforcing their understanding and support of the 4-H program. The tradition of 4-H continues for all the right reasons.