Monthly Archives: February 2016

Febuary 26 2016


The MBA Convention was well attended today. Lots of new Beekeepers in the crowd and many familiar faces. Extremely interesting topics today, especially the honeybee genome project soon to be available to Canadian producers. What exactly is coming down the pipe, I’m not sure but they surveyed the crowd and primed my appetite! Being able to send samples of breeding stock away for genetic trait analysis would greatly help identify and select the breeding stock within my apiary and might just help make this in house breeding program successful. Interesting and exciting stuff presented today

Febuary 25 2016


I found the perfect blue paint match for the Ezyloader.  I’m still searching for the exact yellow…


I wired the loader electrical today. I installed a secondary loader on/off power switch in the truck cab and wired the loader battery into the trucks main electrical system. I installed a selinoid to isolate the loader electrical when the truck is turned off and connects the battery to charge while the truck runs.  This helps keep the battery at full charge to run the loader arm and protects from accidentally draining the trucks batteries.  Running the loader at full voltage is also important to protect the valve relays.


Febuary 23 2016

So much feedback on my nosema post.  It’s interesting how a little realism interjected into a beekeepers conversation connects with beekeepers.  My concern remains and my worry continues.  I find may beekeepers acknowledge this issue and simply dismiss it because of all the irregularities and confusion this infection presents.  Especially when treatment seems to presents no real improvement on this new strain of nosema.  With all this in mind I truly believe monitoring this infection will help us track these “unknown” hive loss events.  In the four legged animal world gut infections can be lethal… not from the primary infection but from the secondary killer infections that can follow.  How are bees different?  My disease testing shows the odds still in my favor; zero mite imagesCA3F8BELcount which leads into zero detectable viral infections in my hives.  With virus floating around I think my hives would of already been killed off from stress…  So I walk the isles again and continue to assess my hives as satisfactory and content.  At this point all I can do is wait and watch but my opinion also is helped from feedback from others;

Your recent post on Nosema caught my attention…  How are you doing with that?  No advice here…perhaps just some words of encouragement.  Over the years commercial beekeepers have contacted me with a similar situation, but usually headed into winter and my first question is how  do the bees look?  You commented the bees look good.  Sometimes a couple of colonies can throw the count off if it is a composite sample, and sometimes high levels are simply high levels in otherwise healthy bees.  If the bees look good, keep an eye on them and hang in there!”

Re. spore counts-that’s why I stopped looking. I know it goes against your admirable thirst for understanding, but i spent countless hours peering through a microscope, making no correlation whatsoever with the hives’ performance. Now that Fumagillin is outlawed in the uk, I can do little to control Nosema apart from seriously look at management practices. So we use escapes not Blowers now, stopped feeding sub in the autumn and keep the mites to an absolute minimum.”imagesCA9LH2C0

“Ian, I am still appreciating the blog.  I think that perhaps you are reading too much into these numbers.  The real test is whether the bees live until spring.  You have got them this far, if they were sick you would know it by now – go by your gut, not numbers from bee guts.”

Febuary 22 2016


The 18′ deck minus the 12″ taken off the front for the loader leaves 17′ of working deck space which fits five rows of pallets and utilizes the arm perfectly. I have already used that back bumper step countless times which makes me wonder how I ever managed without one before… It must be the month beekeepers are installing Ezyloader arms because I have been getting requests from all over the world to show pictures and explain the deck post clamp. It is home built clamp made from flat iron , welded onto a tube, and runs a couple feet underneath the length of the deck. It secures the loader post forward and backwards.  The clamp is nothing complicated but it is extremely important to the stability of the working arm.


After school today I had a bunch of clover bud 4-H kids visit the honey house to learn about honey bees and the honey farm. Because I have been asked many times to speak to school classes and small groups on beekeeping I put together a small half hour presentation.  All the pictures and props perfectly capture the kids attention which makes my job easy and the kids learn something. The benefit of having it in the honey house is I get to show off my extracting equipment and Ezyloader arm but I’m told my “Bee Dance” bit is the favorite among visitors! LOL


Febuary 18 2016


Another bull video session done! 85 plus Bulls videoed and off for editing. We are expecting to have the bull videos up next week. We had a high profile breader from Quebec tour the herd first thing this morning and another high profile breeder from Saskatchewan tour the herd yesterday. The traffic has started!

Febuary 17 2016

Well… its that time of year… when I enter into a frantic nerve frayed mess of a beekeeper… except this winter it starts from my own doing and its not even March!  Earlier this month I sent away a sample of bees taken from my wintering shed to monitor my nosema levels. I send all my samples away for testing to the National Diagnostic Bee Centre.  This morning I actually dropped my morning coffee cup on the table when I opened and read their test results; 25.5 million spore count!  What?!

wtfNosema has plagued me with inconsistencies and questions ever since this new strain “ceranae” found our hives a few years back.  Nothing about this disease makes sense to me… all “in house” trials I have run have gone back and forth between treatment being beneficial to detrimental to the spore counts of my hives and now,…!… tests go from under 2m spore count in September to a 25m count in five months later in February!

I walked the isles of my shed again today to assess my clusters and with my test results in mind I’m thinking maybe these hives aren’t looking so hot… but everything looks content…?  and clean… and ceranaeawesome…?   As I survey beekeepers around me, I am getting feedback ALL OVER THE MAP.  I’m going to take another sample to double check these test results.

Riding on a few of my nerves I contacted BeeMaid honey asking about booking some spring package bees.  I was told because of a “lack of bees in New Zealand we’re sold out. We were told the only potential opportunity might be later in May but no guarantees.”  hmmmm…. sometimes I wonder why I don’t wear a cowboy hat.


Febuary 16 2016


I’ve been asked to show the loader pole clamp.

Looking from under the deck, the clamps secure onto the Ezyloader pole. The clamp is welded onto a tube which runs lengthwise a couple feet to stabalize the unit on the deck.

Febuary 15 2016


The Bull catalog is up on the cattle page, be sure to check it out. A big bull pen this year! Lots to choose from! Find the last page of the catalog where we announce our first annual on farm female sale. December 12, 1:00 in the Steppler Farm’s sale barn, 40+ females; bred heifers, heifer calved, show heifers up for offer!

Febuary 12 2016


I had the desiel heater blasting all day and was able to work on the deck out of the cold. The main frame is all welded into place just needing a few more hours of finishing work. I built an 18′ deck which gives me 17’of working deck space. It will make for a long truck but everyday through the bee season I’m asking for more room in the cab and more space on the deck. I built the frame out of 2″ square tube and built it flat on the chassi. This helped me keep the deck profile lower and it will make working off the truck so much easier. I’m hoping for milder weather next week so I can paint with the doors open.