Monthly Archives: August 2015

Aug 30 2015

image

We have a field supper every harvest evening which provides a small bit of time for the harvest crew to stop and take a break from the long day. It’s a tradition our family has always done and one I remember as a kid fondly. Our kids love field suppers and the chance they get for a combine ride afterwards. During the field supper hour we manage safety within our field safety program which allows us to bring the family into the harvest field and experience our livelyhood first hand in a way that eliminates the risk of accident. This is a very important time of the year and it’s important for the family to see it first hand just as I did when I was a kid.

Aug 29 2015

image

My work staff has started to file out as the school year approaches. We are just about finished the honey production season with only a couple days left of extracting 10 barrels of partially filled boxes. The hives have all been lightly fed syrup and they all seem to be sitting in a light alfalfa flow. Not enough to produce surplus hence the partially filled boxes in the extraction room but enough to keep pressure on my queens. I have been working on filling in dead spots within the apiary. My queen losses over the honey production period has been substantial at 20%. These are either shaken out or reinforced with nucs that had been made up earlier. Aside from my summer swarming queen failure losses my hives sit on sheets of brood. In a week we will start bulk feeding the hives in preparation for winter. I have not done any formal disease tests yet but random samples show very low varroa levels. This next week should nicely cap off the honey season and send us into a nice casual fall time mode.

Aug 28 2015

Stripping the Slats fewyard

Stripping the last few yards of partials to end the season. All boxes are now Either in storage or waiting extraction. All hives have had access to a small amount of open feed.

[caption id="attachment_5026" align="alignleft" width="3264"]Notice th Notice the difference between the Italian and carni

Aug 22 2015

Tis the season of field lunches

Tis the season of field lunches

Harvest is in full swing and man power is being pulled in all directions. As the work on the honey farm continues it’s normal pace I have pulled myself away from the bees and into the harvest fields to help beat this weekends weather. Second pull has all been gathered now and open feeding has been provided on about 2/3 of my yards which sit dangerously low on brood nest food. The other 1/3 of the yards which sit on a box of third pull honey will be stripped this coming week to end off the season. I start to loose my crew by the end of next week, and completely by labour day but all extraction will be done by then and we will be well into winter hive prep and bulk feeding. That big extraction facility I build does not seem so big anymore! It has been working at its peak efficiency through out this extraction season and it along with my staff is the reason why I have been able to pull myself away to run combine. Crop yields are high and quality is at its best. Since we started combining we have not stopped handling the grain both dry and tough. Our grain drier and air bins are being well utilized again this year which have allowed us continual un interrupted field work. Running between the extractor and the combine is exhausting, but this is what I live for! ūüôā

IMG_4261

Pushing the bees down to one box through the escapes. I open feed the hives after the escapes are put in which encourages the downward movement as they feed on the syrup. This provides enough of a flow to encourage that upward comb growth onto the escape screens which is a pain but a tell tail sign of a robust hive.

Steady work in the honey house

Steady work in the honey house

Aug 16 2015

"I'm pretty good at this, Dad"

“I’m pretty good at this, Dad”

The story from last week would be described with one word; HOT.¬† Soaring temperatures peaked on Friday at 38 degreesC which not only slowed or completely ended nectar flows but also brought our nicely staggered spring crop planting immediately ready to harvest!¬† Currently two swathers are slowly cutting our big canola crop, while sneaking away long enough to keep ahead of the three combines in the wheat.¬†¬† As the function of the honey farm moves forward I have been able to slip away and fill a seat on a combine to work late into the evenings.¬† This next week the last 10 yards of second pull will be brought in and open feeding rounds will slowly begin.¬† 1/3 of my yards sit on alfalfa which continue to collect honey, enough in some yards to sustain and even more in other yards bringing in surplus which will give a nice little third pull to cap off the production year.¬†¬† This time of year it is extremely important to properly balance work IMG_4159load with the best interests of the hives.¬† Shutting down production too soon or feeding too much too soon even in a dearth will plug the hive limiting its winter brood nest.¬† No protein supplement will be done this fall because of the huge amount of late summer clover, alfalfa, and wild flower pollen flowing into the hives.¬† The brood nests are lush with jelly, my ‚Äúlarvaes‚Äô are a swimmin‚ÄĚ.¬† This is a busy time of year.¬† The excitement of bringing in this years bounty has got the farm charged with energy.¬† With that thought in mind we work at bringing in this years harvest safety and slowly.

IMG_4184

My late summer bulk bee project

My late summer bulk bee project

Aug 9 2015

Hive to the right, swarmed... hive to the left, not swarmed and full to the top

Hive to the right, swarmed… hive to the left, not swarmed and plugged¬†to the top

Swarming has been an issue for me through this honey pull season. ¬†Compounding factors of heat, humidity and the strong flow encouraged as much as an estimated 20% of my apiary to swarm off. ¬†Its a hard pill to swallow…many of these hives swarmed off so bad that they had only enough bees to maintain the newly established brood nest! ¬†It is the same thing that happens every year, lots of honey, lots of swarming… nothing I can do about it!

Aug 6 2015

Nicely drawn foundation

Nicely drawn foundation

Six hundred boxes pulled today off 200 hives, another 200 hives to come in tomorrow. Typically we head out by 9 and finish for the day by 4:30. The last couple of days has been wet but we have been able to work through the drizzle without interruption. Earlier in the pull we worked in wet suits due to sweat, this week our suits are wet due to rain… escapes are not as sun dependent as other methods of pulling honey, only I am getting tired of working with wet feet. ¬†Today was not a great bee working day but a great honey pulling day, as the over cast dreary day held the bees inside the hives and the rain held off long enough to allow us to bring in the honey. ¬†I built a roll up tarp for the bee truck to help keep robbers off the boxes but also to give us courage to pull honey with rain in the forecast.

Pushing them down into three boxes, this is all the space they get now.

Pushing them down into three boxes, this is all the space they get now.

Aug 4 2015

IMG_4126[1]

Second pull starts, and so do the bee cozies. They look silly but they allow me to use these bee escapes right through til the end.

This will be a honey farm first… August long weekend off for the crew. Never has the August long weekend been given off. We are casually working through this years honey harvest. Lots of boxes, lots of help and the facility to suit it. The first semi was delivered today and the second semi was filled. The honey flow has slowed this week with the appearance of mild robbing but most yards are still feeding off late canola, alfalfa, ditch clover and wild flowers. How long this flow will last and how much is actually coming in… I dont know but I do know that a continual flow of pollen feeds my hives. ¬† The second pull started today and weather permitting 400 hives worth of honey should land in the hot room by end of the week. ¬† We should be able to get the last of the first pull boxes done by Friday so this should keep the extraction crew busy without interruption.