Monday, April 25, 2011

Yesterday's Reverse

Yesterday afternoon I reserved the boxes on the Bee Glad... hive. Before closing up the hive, I left a pollen supplement pattie. Hopefully today, the new packages come.

Sustainable Beekeeping in an Unsustainable World

Every year about this time I make beekeeping resolutions for the coming season. After listening to Marla Spivak's talks at both Saint Mary's and Winona State, and reading Randy Oliver's series of articles in the American Bee Journal, I have decided to recast my apicultural practices somewhat. I would really like to be totally natural in my approach but I must recognize that my bees forage in an un-natural world. They live in a world of suburban development, city ordinances against 'noxious' weeds, conspicuous consumption and leisure, growing monoculture, the casual use of pesticides and herbicides, and globalization. All these social problems impact the nutrition, and health of honeybees. While a 'social apiculturalist' should also be working to fight these economic/political problems, in the present, I need to be concerned about some of my bees' immediate problems. With this is in mind, I resolve to do the following practices this bee season:

  1. Culling three year old comb-  Comb retains many of the noxious chemicals and diseases bees come in contact with while foraging. This season I have already removed comb that is three years or older.
  2. Supplement Nutrition- I will be more disciplined in supplementing the bees' nutritional needs with pollen supplements when called for. This grates against my 'natural' tendencies but I am convinced now that my neighbor's on the west side of Winona are not providing my bees with a diverse enough diet.
  3. Monitor and Manage Varroa Better- I will be monitoring the varroa count of each hive regularly, removing drone comb, and using essential oil based miticides if the mite count calls for it. 
  4. Carrying Capacity-  I may have been pushing the number of beehives in the neighborhood to its limits, especially given the rainy and cold spring/summer we had. I will try to stay within a 4 hive limit (with nucs) in the future.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Video: Beelandia 4/24/11

A video from Beelandia after a reversal.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Winona State Class Visits Beelandia

Last Tuesday, Winona State's Introduction to Apiculture class visited Beelandia to get their first taste of beekeeping hands-on.

Biologist Bruno Borsari and his bright and eager students, dressed in the 'armor' of the trade, spent a good hour and a half examining both beekeeping equipment and the population of bees in Bee Glad....

I spent a good deal of time fielding some very intelligent questions concerning the ins-and-outs of what I do day-to-day with the bees. The class included some very keen observers who actually watched the bees carefully as they came and went from the hive.

Overall, the bees were on their best behavior, as I was the only one stung through the entire class.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Yesterday's Beekeeping Activities

The weather was pleasant yesterday (50 degrees F and sunny) and honeybees in the Bee Glad... hive were out bringing pollen. It was a fine day to do some work in Beelandia.

I finally was able to prepare both top bar hives for bee installation later this month. I took all the insulation off, leveled the hives, and removed all the old comb (three years old or older) from the hive. As I suspected, the bees in these two hives had not collected very much nectar last summer and fall and had probably died of starvation.

After top bar tasks, I went on to work with Bee Glad..., the one hive to survive this winter. I remove the quilt box, hive wrap, and other insulation. I made a very brief inspection (I did not remove any frames). The cluster is at the very top of hive with very little honey left. I reversed the top two boxes, left some pollen patties, and put on a top feeder with syrup added.

I did make one discovery doing all this: I am stronger this spring than I have been in the last three. My previous weakness, which I had attributed to age, was probably due to my unrepaired surgical hernias. My December hernia surgery was a success!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dr. Spivak Speaks at Saint Mary's University on April 8th.

Dr. Marla Spivak will speak on April 8th at 1:45pm in the Figliulo Recital Hall (which is in Page Theatre). For further information about the event follow the link.