Monthly Archives: March 2016

March 31 2016

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It took all day of tweaking but the uncapper Reconditioning is complete, the box pusher and box lift is fully installed and it’s air supply system is plumbed in. These kind of projects take time. Carrie has cut nearly a tonne of patties, so we will be set for a while and now she is working away at building frames. I think she’s ready be back out in the yards…!
Tomorrow I’m going to wander over to the metal shop and weld together a SS roller table extension for the box pusher. I have a few ideas in mind which will make life easier for my extraction crew.

March 30 2016

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Ten degrees outside and with the ventilation fans on 100% the shed held at twelve.  Today was the first day since putting them back inside where I found bee drop.  Not a lot on the floor but enough to sweep.  I lightly misted the shed with the pressure washer to push the bees back inside their hives but this time not only did it not work but it really stirred the room up!   I’ll need to open the doors tonight.  Cold crap weather for the next four days will help keep the shed settled, on the hint of pleasant weather these hives are back out.

March 29 2016

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So I’ve done further nosema sampling to monitor exactly what is going on. To summarize what I’ve monitored this winter;
-the Nosema tested is Nosema Ceranae
-Apiary tested approximately 2m spore count this past fall. No treatments of fumagillin were administered.
-two separate samples were taken late winter (mid Feb and early March) each randomly sampled 25% of the hives and one sampled sick looking hives (only 12 sick out of 1200 identified). The results came back approximately 20-25m spore counts and 70m on the “sick” sample.
-I set out the hives out on March 10 and the hives flew for five good days.
-out of time restraints I did not treat anything and did not feed patties except for 50 hives. Each of these hives got a patty and a 1/3 dosage drench treatment of fumagillin.
-because I WORRY too much and love to work I picked up my apiary and sent them back into storage to wait out March, as they still sit inside waiting to be put out early next week.

So after I put the hives back inside I collected a composite sample generally from my untreated untouched hives and a sample from my fumagillin/patty hives.
The results came in today. That free flight dropped my apiary spore count by over 10m spore counts to 13m and the treated nearly shed it all dropping it down to 1.6m spore count.

So my plan moving forward? The hives look good right now sitting in the shed. I don’t know what to do… hold true to not treating and expect a further reduction naturally or treat with the apparent sure bet to slash spore counts…
Which ever strategy I decide on, there will be a control set in place to measure efficacy. I’m also going to test a few with Thymol treated syrup, Thymol I got from a friend in the business. Another factor is my first wave of crew comes in Monday so work load and time restraint will not be an issue. Getting 3-4 applications done per round is now again possible.

“Hi Ian

I write to you from central Alberta, a balmy 14 degrees and bees are flying.

Just reading your latest post on nosema results, I find it very interesting, and am glad you are sharing your results.
Just a thought, were the “treated” hives all given pollen supplement, as well as drench treatment? I’ve heard supplement will help clear nosema, so can you be sure it’s the drench that’s lowering the counts so dramatically? I’d love to hear nutrition and cleansing flights alone are enough to keep it at bay.

Good luck with the upcoming season!”

I left out one test as I was unsure if it was accident.
I ran out of fumagillin treatment and 12 hives went with just patty. That count was .6m spore count… Not sure if it was an anomaly because of the small sample size.

March 28 2016

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Changing bearings as I recondition the extraction equipment. I had to slip into BeeMaid to buy the main cutter shafts as a bearing malfunction last season damaged the old ones. I also bought new knives to replace the the old ones that were damaged by a hive tool that was accidentally sent through the machine last summer…lol
Now back together and practically brand new, ready for another busy season. It’s nice BeeMaid supplies “essentials” for these kind of equipment maintenance projects.

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March 25 2016

“Hi Ian
I was wondering if you would have time to give me advice on mini mating nucs. I have been reading your blog and saw that you used the Baby Nucs for queens and have lots of questions about them. I am up in Michigan and am looking to raise queens this year all summer and am thinking that those look like the ticket But I have lots of question on management for them. If you have time that would be awesome.”

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There are many beekeepers who are more experienced than I am at queen rearing, I run a simple system run on a calendar schedule.

I run a graft every week, and schedule the work to suit that weekly rotation.
Graft day 1 into starter
Day 3 move to finisher (same hive, division removed)
Transfer day 10 to nucs, hatch day 12
Cage 18 days after hatch (that cage is done just before that following transfer of a new cell into that same nuc).

I’ll start the nucs with drawn comb, simply cut a drawn honey frame, but I find these mini nucs draw wax quick when given sugar and a new cell. Cup full bees per box. Close them up over night in a cool room. Orientation to those nucs is tricky as drifting is a problem… so I establish my populations by spacing the nucs 200′ apart down our county road for a day or two to “stick” them in the nuc before moving them into the mating yards and placing cells.

Cup full of bees per mini

Cup full of bees per mini


Hive stands keep work at standing level.  Dusting the base of the pole controls ant problems

Hive stands keep work at standing level. Dusting the base of the pole controls ant problems


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Leaving the queen in for 18 days catches those late matings and allows her to brood the nest which helps keep the population up. Drone layer nucs need boosting before introducing the next cell. Those small nucs generally don’t honey bound because they pack with brood…. But when flows slow they starve as no resources are present. I find feeding them with a scoop of granulated honey is most effective. I’ve cut my feeders out and run 5 mini frames per box which gives these mini’s the needed room for mid summer management. At the end of the season I put all the frames in frame boxes made from cut honey supers to hatch out the brood and prep the frames with syrup for next season.

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I’m running 100 mini’s this year, 35 or so on a three week rotation, starting them mid May and running them til September. Every week we use the queens to replace marked hives, cut down full hives to make up nucs or use them to start up late season bulk bee nucs using 2-3 lbs of hot room window sweepings.

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March 24 2016

The shed held at 12 today, bit of bearding otherwise no activity

The shed held at 12 today, bit of bearding otherwise very little activity…and zero sweepings

Feeding cattle, all day all day everyday everyday... Never ending, where's the grass!

Feeding cattle, all day all day everyday everyday… Never ending, where’s the grass!

March 23 2016

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We had a beautiful day for the sale and filled the barn up with support.  We had strong interest in our bulls from in the barn, on the phone and online buyers.  From conversations after the sale our buyers were happy with their new bull(s) in their back pocket.  Thank you for your support from here and across the country.   We are already looking forward to next year’s sale!

55 Yearlings      $300,250          Ave. $5,459

11 Twos             $64,000            Ave. $5,818

66 Lots              $364,250           Ave. $5,519

March 22 2016

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Please accept this invitation to attend our 5th Annual Bull Sale on Tuesday March 22th. We are celebrating 41 years raising and selling purebred Charolais Cattle.

The bulls on offer are again consistent, grown out and athletic. The bulls are fed a balanced TMR formulated by nutritionist Mitch Rey of EastMan Feeds. This ration enables the bulls to grow into productive breeding individuals that are sound and ready to work.

With 70 yearling and 15 two years old, we have something for everyone in this group. There are power bulls that will add lbs to your calf crop, heifer bulls that will efficiently calve heifers, and for the first time, red factor bulls that will add colour. As you look through the catalogue, notice the consistency in birth weight, performance and bull type. This is a result of selecting from our 400 active PB Charolais females. The pen also reflects herd sires that we are honoured and proud to own. Seminole needs no introduction. His offspring are in demand by both purebred and commercial cattlemen alike because the Seminole sons work. Copenhagen, our horned sire, is exceeding all our expectations. His sons are stamped with his hip, hair, and muscle. For new genetics from Steppler Farms, we have added Talon, Blue Value, Hard as Steel, Lorenzo, Geddes, and calving ease specialist Jacksonville. We offer bulls to fit everyone’s needs.

If you are in the market for a Charolais bull come and inspect our bull pen-we have a bull to suit your needs. If you aren’t in the market this year or if you haven’t yet decided to switch to a Charolais bull, see what we have to offer. Lunch is at 11:00 AM with the sale starting at 1:00PM CST on March 22nd. Feel free to come any time before the sale or if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at home 204 435 2463 or on my cell 204 750 1951.

Catalogue and videos are available online at www.stepplerfarms.com

March 21 2016

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Here’s the sales order/data sheet for tomorrow’s #Charolais bull sale. 75 Bulls on offer, Tuesday March 22, 1:00 sharp. Check out stepplerfarms.com for catalogue and videos. All bulls in the sale have passed their semen test.