Monthly Archives: January 2016

January 30 2016

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I’ve purchased an upgrade for my 60 frame Cowen extractor. This deboxer is going to bring further ease in loading the extractor. The frame grabber worked great but it was a bit messy and required a stronger taller worker to maneuver it around. It will be moved up the line and fitted with a box grabber to lift full boxes onto the box pusher conveyor.  The box pusher simply pushes the frames up and out of the box with an air driven ram.  Less physical effort is required to operate this machine which will make this job much easier to match up to within my crew rotation.  The company allowed this investment aware that it would not yield any improved return over my old way of loading the extractor but realized its value in providing ease of operstions.

January 29 2016

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I have been chatting with Dr. Joe Latshaw, Latshaw’s Apiaries, Ohio www.latshawapiaries.com about bee feed supplements and honey bee nutrition. He is a very interesting fellow to talk to and has a great understanding of honey bee nutrition. My objective with supplemental feeding is pretty basic; find off the shelf food products to mix together into a palatable nutritious bee feed supplement fed during times of pollen deaths – on a budget. Using the recipe I put together from various sources of input, I have a feed supplement which provides a balanced diet of Protein and provides the necessary fats required in a honeybee diet. To complement my patty mix, Dr. Latshaw has formulated a Vitamin and Mineral pre mix to balance out essential nutrients that are low or lacking from my “off the shelf” patty recipe. Joe has sent me a few pounds of premix which I’m going to run in a few trials. He has also sent along a natural stimulant which I’ll mix in through my oil which he wants feedback on its effect on the feed uptake.

20 lbs Brewers YeastIMG_3706
20 lbs Soy flour
10 lbs dried egg yoke
10 lbs irradiated pollen
Cup of lemon Juice
Cup of canola oil
25 lbs HFCS or mixed until desired consistency
1.5lbs Latshaw vit min premix

The honey bee industry is pretty tight lipped in regards to revealing those specific details regarding honey bee nutrition. Unlike with the livestock industry where I can map out and target an animals specific diet using specific feeds, the honeybee diet is more unknown with advances privately funded and proprietary. There is very little but “general” knowledge about honeybee nutritional requirements available to Beekeepers right now and I feel its one place our industry should direct more attention. Formulating honeybee diets off generalized available information and then improving it with additional proprietary supplement or buying those “complete” bagged supplement mixes is great for operators who don’t care what exactly those improvements are doing or what exactly makes those bee feed bags read complete. I do want to know the specifics to these answers.  It is a practice the livestock industry would never get away with; hence BSE… I also do not blame entrepreneurs like Joe for protecting his secrets and reaping benefit off their own research efforts and understanding of the business.  I fully support his endeavours and look forward to working with him in the future.

I’ve said this before and I will continue to say it again, of all the effort and attention currently put on bees right now, very little of it is actually geared towards improving our industry. By following the lead of activists and agenda driven politics, the honeybee industry has lost its voice and has ended up as the mule pulling the wagon. The bee industry needs to take hold of our campaign again and redirect its attention towards actual tangible solutions of our industry problems. How about … instead of slagging and fighting farmers for managing their land without (flowering) weeds, we direct more attention towards replacing that lost nutrition within OUR managment practices by bringing in efforts like that of Joe Latshaw… and that’s just a start!  Success will follow operators who are willing to sit back reflect and adapt to the ever so quickly changing beekeeping environment.

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January 26 2016

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Today we built our 80′ Internet tower…no big deal! Using the experience from building last year’s 40′ tower, we built this tower twice as tall with half the problems. We brought in a 50′ boom lift to help secure the heavy bottom sections and then used a home built jinn pole to lift the rest of the sections right up til the 80’top. I’m not afraid of heights and worked the boom lift but 45’is my limit. Adam and Geoff scaled the tower right to the top as I supported them on the ground 🙂

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January 24 2016

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My brother in law sent me a quote the other day from a book he was reading which reminded him of the Steppler farm; “Taking what we have and getting the job done”. In a quote, it pretty much sums up what our farm is all about, getting the job done. So much has happened on this farm over the past 10 years. Basing everything off Mom and Dad’s Equity, we have been able to focus our business strategy towards simplicity, productivity and growth. Their succession has provided the medium to which we built the foundation of our business and one that we continue to build onto as we plan into the future. Through the winter months I dedicate time towards farm business. I use this time to update accounts, contracts, financesimages and farm business planning. Succession is not a one or two year commitment, it is a commitment which we will execute over our lifetime building onto it as the farm grows. Simply put, we are taking everything we have and using it to get the job done.

 

January 22 2016

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After a week of work digging a hole, building forms and tying rebar, it takes ten minutes to pour the concrete !!  Using a laser level we were able to adjust and tweak the base within a 1/16″.  As you can see the tops of the tower base cut the laser line.   Dad picked up the tower on Tuesday and it looks fantastic.  I can’t wait to put it up next week!  I’m working along side the livestock crew, we have three guys hired to work everyday along side us which allows us to accomplish a tremendous amount of work everyday.  When I left the barn this evening we had 225 calves born and 10 on the board…right in the heart of it!

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January 21 2016

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My work space these last few days where I’m building the base for our 80′ Internet tower… all those blanket and cushion forts I built as a kid have paid off! This job is utilizing so many of my unique talents

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… just in this blanket fort I’m actually working like a dog building forms and tying steel.  I found myself in a tight spot today… stuck 7′ down under a cage of steel…. it’s a good thing I’m agile, patient and NOT claustrophobic!   Next up, one truck load of cement!

 

January 18 2016

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Digging the tower base

Nothing is certain and anything can be changed. It’s extremely important when making business decisions (or life) that they are made with confidence and commitment, but when circumstances change we need to be willing and ready to change with them. And this rings true with the internet tower we put up last year. Just recently we switched Internet service providers, a move which ment upgrading our tower… from a 50′ to an 80′ tower. We are not scared of a little bit of work around this farm, as you can see… but sometimes it feels like an excuse just to do these kind of jobs 🙂

Insisting on skiing, even on a -30 degree Saturday afternoon

Insisting on skiing, even on a -30 degree Saturday afternoon

January 15 2016

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Here is a pic of one of my air intakes. As you can see, the incoming air is extremely cold… and after that cold air warms and exhausts, so does the moisture in the room. My air exchange may be a bit high, continuous and blowing as much as a table fan would on medium, but it’s keeping the air in the shed fresh… but dry. Misting the room seems to help that.

January 14 2016

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Today I swept the bee shed floor and watered my hives. To boost the RH in the shed I lightly misted the air between the rows with my pressure washer. Within 10 minutes the RH increased to 30%, I’ll probably mist the room again tomorrow to boost the RH further. The treatment left tiny water droplets on the face and on each of the hives landing boards. It was interesting to watch the bees break cluster for a drink.

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