Monthly Archives: April 2017

April 29 2017

It’s a start, tires are rolling. Pre seed burn off then Direct seeding (zero till) straight into the ground which was prepared last fall. This drill presses the seed into the undisturbed moist soil and sidebands all the fertilizer aside the seed row. One field pass to sew the crop as opposed to the 3-4 passes with our old equipment.


Low drift nozzles fan the pre emergence herbicide over the land to kill the growing weeds. This has taken the place of multiple spring passes across the land with tillage equipment to accomplish the same job. This saves us time, saves equipment costs, saved huge fuel usage, and helps improve soil conditions. An all around economic and environmentaly friendly practice.

April 28 2017 – 2

Dead bees walking out to die

One of my chemical exposure lab results have came back. My previously collected dwindling hives bee sample shows no presence of Neonicotinoid residue at a detection level of 1 ppb.
Aceta, Cloth, Imida, and Thiam show residue levels of <1.0ng/g.

The bees were not sickened by Neonicotinoid pesticide exposure.  The back of my mind notion that perhaps my hives poor early spring performance was due to that outside Neonicotinoid influence is false.  That easy blame of that unknown something else (neonics) has been ruled out.  I have two other Chem residue tests being conducted.  It will be interesting to see if any of my beehive treatments left enough residue to stain into my hives bees.

April 28 2017

The machinery is ready, the seed has been delivered, and the fertilizer truck is ready to run. Tomorrow we make dust.

…and now I back away from the grain farm slowly and disappear into clouds of bees… 👍


April 26 2016

Lots of work waits for cold, snowy or rainy non beeyard work days.  I try to follow a rule through spring; if the bees are flying we work the yards, all else work waits.  My staff is preparing another round of patties and scraping boxes in the warmth of the honey house.  I’ve been taking care of pushed aside business and I have nicely caught things up again.

One job that needs to get done ASAP is scraping boxes.  A quick disease check of the dead out colonies before we take out the frames to scraped and cleaned up for further use.  Each frame is tidied up and stacked, the honey filled frames separate from the empty frames .  The boxes get a once over for repair, then the brood boxes are put back together with honey evenly spread throughout, empties in the centre and as many frames of foundation which is needed to fill frame space along the sides.

During my assessment round I marked strong 8-10 frame hives with a blue tag.  It’s these hives which will receive a second brood box on May 1st to grow into, to avoid swarming and to provide a full split later in May.   Im going to need to stretch my brood boxes with foundation to suit all my blue tags.


April 25 2016

What do other guys use to track hive and Queen information?

I use 3 cards
The top one is pinned accordingly to all my production hives to simply state information about the Queen inside. I use this info at a glance throughout my day all the time.

The second, bottom left is my breeder tags, tagged and marked accordingly, to be used in my selection yard while I analysis the hives for traits. I score the traits which is totalled to give each hive an overall score. Is this useful?? Not sure yet but it helps organize specific information.

The third tag is my cell tracker, to be tacked on my builder hives and then to follow the cell bars into the incubator. I’m using this to help me track my employees work so I can see what’s happening at a glance instead of interrogating her at the end of each day.

The kids got ahold of my Queen incubator (chick incubator) and are in the process of hatching out chicks.

I’ve finished my Sequential Sampling counts and I’m not happy at all. As I was saying yesterday, my nosema infection has dramatically increased infecting over 50% of the bees in each colony. Composite counts will follow. I’m not sure what I’m going to do… simply hold out and let life play its hand or send out a fumagillin treatment ( which has shown no positive effect in my trials) and try to curb the infection. I have tapped into professional help and the advice is to act immediately with treatments.

So many problems in this business with very few options to manage them… I chat with beekeepers online who don’t even know how to pronounce Nosema, who don’t treat, who all rest easy right now, maybe I should put the microscope away…lol

April 24 2017

It’s probably is no surprise to anyone that I’m running another nosema trial.  I’m getting conflicting information from everyone, even myself about everything Nosema.  Being a livestock producer I’m a big believer on a healthy gut makes for a healthy animal.  I truely believe the Nosema fungus is one of the big pillars of our industries health problems.

From many reasons, especially from my In house winter fumagillin trials, I decided not to treat with Fumagillin this spring.  Last week all my hives received 1 gallon of syrup, 120 of those hives received a full spring dose fumagillin treatment within that syrup.  Before treatment I gathered a sample from 10 randomly selected hives to run a sequential and composite sample to be used to compare against apiary and test hive samples in 3 weeks.

Today was a great day (cold and snowy) to sit in my office and run the Sequential Sampling analysis.  I was expecting to find virtually zero nosema counts because of the 0.11m spore count results that came back from my Nosema viral and chemical Analysis recently done at the NBDC.  Also my winter samples had consistently shown less than 10% infection within my hives.  Today’s analysis has shown a heavy 60% infection rate (danger zone).  I’m sending a composite sample away to get a grid spore count to determine the severity.  My assumption off my initial testing and from observation of hive performance was that my nosema infection was improving.  Today’s analysis has shown the infection had gotten worst.  I’ll get a clearer picture of the infection after I get the counts back.

Cold outside but warm and toasty inside. The bees are actively taking down their syrup and back at the patties. Shreds of wax paper out the entrances.

April 23 2017

Ive been reading about the work Declan Schroeder has been doing at the Marine Biological Association in regards to honey bee viruses, specifically Deformed Wing Virus (DWV).
He has separated this viral infection into 3 variant groups, type A, B and C.
Type A DWV has been shown to cause the visual symptoms of deformed wings and the cause of wintering losses.

Molecular pic of DWV

He found that In samples which contain high levels of DWV but exhibit no visual signs of sickness (deformed wings), type B was primarily found.  Type B might be out competing  type A and prevent any symptoms of sickness from developing.
There is less known of type C but it is also related to wintering losses.
He has found low levels of DWV (virus genome copy numbers under 1000 per bee) in varroa free areas but high levels of  DWV ( virus genome copy counts over 1 billion per bee) in varroa infested hives !

Interesting stuff….perhaps vaccinations for honey bees isn’t such a far fetched idea after all

I have the first part (viral and nosema analysis) of the National Bee Diagnostic Centres Diagnostic Report back.  This live sample was taken primarily from dwindling colonies throughout my apiary  to have a nosema, viral and chemical analysis done to help determine the cause of my apiaries subpar performance right out of the shed.

Winter analysis had shown nosema counts ranging between 2-9m spore counts.  Samples taken a week out of the shed after a good week of flight has shown nosema Ceranae counts of 0.11m spore counts.  Basically clean (or they have simply flown off).

Furthermore only two viral infections were detected; BQCV – 519 viral copies per bee and DWV – 736,000 viral copies per bee.  I’m still in conversation with the lab to help me understand the metric used to determine what viral copies per bee actually means and how its measured.   No other viral infections found.  My chemical Analysis shouldn’t be long, I’m interested to see what this Diagnostic Report shows.

With all this information I’m starting to get a grasp on the cause of my apiarie’s subpar spring performance.  I’ll Comment on that later.

April 22 2017

Not the weather I ordered but a good day to get caught up with moving yards out. Today I picked all the weak hives which remained in the original spring holding yard and moved them into a nursery yard where we will be able to focus some TLC. Grouping and regrouping is a strategy which helps me move the apiary forward.

According to the forecast it looks like we are in for a week of slow weather.  Last week we dropped a couple pounds of protein supplement and a gallon of syrup onto everything.  This weather is the reason why I focus so much attention towards supplemental feeding.  It may be too cold outside for the bees to fly but it isn’t too cold for them to keep working inside.  The surplus of last week’s pollen has helped build a small reserve which had decreased the hives supplement consumption (saving me money!! ) but I noticed shreds of wax paper on the hives door steps again today which means they are back into the patties.  Monday morning my staff will put their chefs hats back on and mix, cut and wrap another round of patties.

April 21 2017

The warmth brought the land along today. Now we wait for the springs to dry up. We are days away from seeding (weather dependant).  Our maintenance projects draw close to an end, we dropped four guys on the air drill today to hurry up the project.  It was nice to work a wrench all day.  A few neighbours are scratching around, some have started on lighter land.  A few days in the 20’s and the countryside will come alive.