Stripping the last super, pushing them into one. Open feed has provided a nice rim. Pails come out in a week.
Today the honey farm achieved another milestone. I successfully executed another part of my overall plan to have the honey farm run without needing me present. I have successfully set the honey house with facilities to run without me. Now I’m in the process to allow the same with my yard work. Currently I have one experienced beekeeping technician. Going through the work motions with her has allowed me to draw up a blue print in which I can employ more experienced help to handle more of “my” workLoad. It’s also going to allow me to focus attention in areas that need attention more often. It’s quite exciting and the opportunities are limitless. It might sound small but it’s a big first step. Today I spent the day on the combine to help with harvest while my crew pulled in honey. Today was a good day.
The crew calls it F*** ya Friday! If only that Fridsy afternoon energy burst started Monday morning…! Lol, just kidding, I have no complaints about my honey crew this year. Today I dropped the axe on three of my school kids as the honey has run out. It’s a week earlier than originally planned but I don’t think they really mind having a week off before school starts. Three remain and will be here till December working on honey farm and general farm projects.
The alfalfa honey is coming in darker than usual. It has been suggested that a heavy wild flower flow may have darkened the colour and flavour. It looks fantastic. This was Grandpa’s favourite time in the honey house filling barrels as he loved the darker honey. 300 drums filled now, another few more days of extracting left for the season.
Comb built upward while the escapes were in place. A light syrup flow and a box full of young bees waste no time trying to fill the temporary overhead escape board space. Kind of annoying but it represents a good viable winter hive and is assessed as such. Once these lids close, most will not open until next spring.
Pushing the bees down, the flow is over. The hives look a lot different in one box. Now that their overhead space is gone the hive’s nest organization has changed below. I have open fed a tote to 30 of 40 yards, those last yards still sit on honey. It’s not much syrup but enough to keep the nests going. During the flow the queen dominates the single and pushes all the food uptop. Now without that overhead space the bees store the syrup anywhere they can within the nest. It will take a week or more as their sprawling brood nest hatches before the bees can re organize their house as they see fit. This is the reason I refrain from pushing the bees down during a fall flow or OVER feeding the hive immediately after stripping their space. This adjustment period is important.
The first tote of syrup after the nectar flow ends sure sparks that queen up. Spark her up, then feed later on to push her back. That small bit of feed excites the hives which also help clear the bees from the honey boxes. We will fill the tote after the yard has been set with escapes on final pull. After two nights the boxes will have cleared and collection takes us 30 min per yard. Most of my crew does not know the actual meaning of late August ROBBING, and that makes my job easier.
One tote per yard is not enough. The more surface area set out to feed allows for less fighting. Less fighting means less drowning. With my wood floats and small layer of straw, I will find a 1″ layer of dead bees after the syrup has been completely taken. When I use three totes per yard I will find hardly any dead bees. The bees fight for space, push each other into the syrup and like a drowning human, they will take the next guy down with them!!
One field of wheat came close so we fired the drier and nosed a combine into it today. We only have the one straight cut header so the other combines sat idle. All the canola has turned ripe. We are not late on it but it’s turning fast. We rented another swather so we have three units swathing canola now. Our wheat is not quite ready yet. Staging is correct now to desiccate which began today. Another machine another man…the reason why the Beekeeper got called to run the combine this evening. 👍
Today we finished extracting first pull, 270 drums. We continue to work away bringing in the scraps of second pull. Hard to tell what the room full of partials will amount to. I have fed roughly a half gallon to 2/3 of my yards. That was enough feed at the time because during that feeding my yards also sat on a light nectar flow. Everything is being pulled this week and I’m going to get a gallon into all the hives asap. Too soon to bulk but ALL the flows here have pretty much dried up and I need to make sure the hives sit on feed. All the boxes should be in by mid next week and open feeding should hold them until bulk feeding starts in September. A major apiary cull start this weekend… no mercy, any in hive queen replacements not laying yet gets the shake out. Time to cut the summer losses and step into fall mode.
Two weeks ago we started to pull the mini mating nucs from production, this week’s catch will finish off the last mini mating yard. As we pull the mini’s we consolidate all the frames into a holding box to hatch out and then fed to fill with syrup to prepare for next season. We have to be careful rouge emergency cells don’t slip by and wreck havoc within the receiving hive! This year’s queen production was a resounding success. We have a rather large yard that was built throughout the summer which will now be used to fix up failing fall hives and fill dead spots.
Fresh boxes last week, this week one box full with alfalfa honey. I’m going to sit on these alfalfa yards and ride out this fall flow. No use rushing a fall flow. Yards without flows get feed, yards with flow gets time.
We started the swathers yesterday, all the canola is being knocked down. SLOW going this year, heavily lodged and laying low to the ground. We are still waiting to desiccate the wheat which will buy us time to cut the canola.
It’s a start. Slowly feeding to keep pressure on the queen. After the rain last night nectar shook from some frames today, just enough to keep that queen going. I’ll have a bit of feed on 20 yards by tomorrow evening. The other 20 are else where sitting on an alfalfa flow, and those yards will be given some time.
Another 50 drums wait in the hot room to be sent through the extractor. The honey is starting to get thick and stick to the comb. Granulation is near. We should be able to crank them through before the weekend. The hot room floor heat has kept the honey hot and my uncapper blades are sharp, cutting the combs close. Since yesterday we set 400 hives second round. Not much out there, two boxes 2/3 full. The hives look okay but not Gobs of bees like I find some years. I’m starting to find queen problems. It’s almost that hive shake out time of year…like pulling off a bandaid, shake out the problems and fill in the dead spots. Quick and painless. I just hope the summer losses aren’t as dramatic as last year’s.
I have gotten a few messages from Beekeepers on concerning mite counts. This afternoon I sent out a quick random 5 yard 5 hive sample to see what I had. My sample show a 1.5% mite count. A thorough sample will be taken as we work through and purge the apiary. Mites are my largest threat and it’s extremely important I stay on top of their infestation.