The Beeyard Report
The bees are in bed for the winter. October was an exceptional month. On October 23, pollen and nectar were still coming in. This ended, in our area, a few days later. Some beekeepers still had supers on during this period and captured the late flow. For us, it is suicide to leave the supers on that late. The mite load gets too high. When we have tried to catch that late flow the bees have crashed. It only takes a couple of weeks to go from big clusters to almost nothing.
During November, it has occasionally been warm enough for the bees to come out and fool around but there has been no serious flight. Most of the yards look good. However, that doesn't always translate into good survival. We have picked up about 30 colonies that have either gone queenless or crashed from mites. We have mainly used bucket feeders in the past. It is a bit of a pain to fill them up and there is always syrup spilled on the back of the truck. Over the last couple of years we have gradually been putting a division board feeder in every box. We have a syrup tank and pump set up on a pallett that we can put on a pickup. It doesn't take very long to feed a yard with that. With a feeder in every brood box, we can give 2 gallons at a time. Two trips through the yards and we are done.
The queen yard has been shut down for two months but I still have a few people calling for queens. For the most part, the phone is quiet. We will settle into winter jobs after Thanksgiving. I don't have the extracting line or the honey tanks cleaned up yet. There are lots of boxes to repair and also some package bee cages to fix. We have to restore order to chaos. I know I'm gaining but it doesn't look like it.
The next job is getting out yard rent We are going to add another 50 cut comb boxes and will have to assemble frames for those. We did 2000 squares this year and it still wasn't enough.
There won't be any Australian bees brought into the U S this year. Apis cerana has been found there. It was first found in 2007 and harbors a mite that multiplies three times faster than Varroa. They have found numerous swarms with the new mite in the Northern part of Australia.
They are trying to eradicate them. Historically, that has never worked as a control. The Aussie bees cane into the U S before almonds and were used to fill a lot of boxes. Those boxes will no longer be able to pollinate almonds but will still need bees in them. This is going to have an effect on package bee and queen prices. Bees will still be coming in from New Zealand. I don't know how much of the shortfall they can make up.
Adam is getting settled in to his new place south of Cedar Rapids. He has two good buildings on the place. Part of our operation is going to move that way. The details have yet to be worked out. The queen operation is going that way for sure. We really can't make definite plans until we know what our death loss is going to be.
Eric is a grad student at the University of Missouri at Columbia. I went down for a visit on the weekend of Nov 12. I was quite impressed with the campus. Alex went to the Hazeltine sale in Toddville while I was gone. He did pretty well. He brought home a pickup load of stuff that he got for $21. It included a Betterway Wax Melter that appears to be in better condition than the one we are currently using.
There was a very large turnout for the annual meeting. I was surprised when I walked into the meeting room and found almost all of the chairs filled. The meeting was well organized. I thought it went well.
Hasppy holidays to all!!!
Submitted by Phil Ebert
Beekeeper’s Record & Journal
The following was reprinted with the permission of the estate of Richard Taylor. The material is from the book, “Beekeeper’s Record & Journal”, text by Richard Taylor, and designed and illustrated by Cynthia Diamond. This book (among other items) was graciously donated to the youth scholarships’ during the 2009 IHPA annual meeting in October at the Best Western Regency Inn in Marshalltown. After the meeting, this book was not taken and is now the property of the Iowa Honey Producers Association, Historian. I have enjoyed reading it, and thought the membership would also. As stated by Kim Flottum, Editor of the Bee Culture; “We have a Gem”. Peggy Ennis, IHPA Historian
If you are a lover of old bee books you will have noticed that a disproportionate number of their authors were clergymen. One reason is that clergymen were the members of a once relatively small class of people, namely, persons possessed of learning. They therefore had not only the background of knowledge, but the ability to express themselves in the written word, which was by no means a common possession then. America’s own greatest beekeeper, L.L. Langstroth, was a clergyman and a profoundly learned one. But another reason for so many clerics among early beekeepers is that bees were once commonly kept by churches and monasteries, not so much for honey as for the wax that was needed for candles. So it sometimes became a pastor’s duty to tend the bees, and garner the beeswax, along with tending his flock of parishioners. Thus did many a minister of the Gospel, from this more of less enforced introduction to beekeeping, succumb to the same obsession that so many of us know today.
It is hard to think of the Christmas season without thinking of churches and candles. Churches still use great quantities of beeswax in their candles, but as this substance becomes more and more precious, the requirements of purity become more lax, and more and more other waxes, especially paraffin, are admixed with the beeswax. Perhaps it is just as well, from the standpoint of practical apiculture, since beeswax foundation is absolutely essential to that craft, especially for raising comb honey.
To realize the importance of beekeeping in an earlier age, we have to realize that for a long period honey was virtually the only sweet, apart form the sugars found naturally in fruits, and beeswax was virtually the only wax suitable for making candles. The queen excluder, which we think of entirely as a tool for honey getting, was originally used to produce what was (and still is) called “virgin beeswax,” that is, wax from combs in which no brood has been raised. This was thought not only appropriate in ecclesiastical services, but also, the wax was of course whiter.
Because of the association of beeswax with religious tradition, perhaps December is the best month for wax melting. Every beekeeper’s shop or honey house will contain a receptacle for wax scraps and, unless these were melted up during the extracting process, there are likely to be cappings, too. Even comb honey beekeepers will have wax on hand, and they need every bit they can get. As good a method as any for melting up wax is to put a vessel or tub, size depending upon the amount of wax on hand, upon a gas burner, add a few inches of water, and when this is boiling, start tossing in wax scraps. Bear in mind that hot wax is highly flammable. When all is melted, just turn off the heat, and ladle the molten wax into milk cartons or something similar. You do not need to worry about keeping out foreign matter, such as dead bees and the like, if you are just going to use the wax to exchange for foundation; the bee supply company will remelt it and strain it.
It is a pleasant job, perfect for a winter day, and the blocks of wax that result are, in a way, like gold. They will never spoil or decay, never be worth any less, and besides this, you have the feeling of recycling this precious substance right back to the bees where it belongs.
Richard Taylor was born 1919 and passed away October 30, 2003 in New York. He earned his PhD at Brown University and taught principally at Brown University, Columbia, and University of Rochester. He was an American Philosopher, renowned for his dry wit and his contributions to Metaphysics. Although it is well known he was a philosopher – he was far better known as a beekeeper. It is often said – “I have never met a beekeeper who has not heard of Richard Taylor”. He owned 300 hives and from 1970 produced mostly comb honey. His significant contributions to beekeeping are - authoring many books on beekeeping - among these are the two; “The comb Honey Book” and “The Joys of Beekeeping”, and regularly writing articles for bee journals. His near legendary honey stand at the roadside in front of his country home operated on the honor system, secured only by gentle solicitations to honesty posted on its walls.
This concludes the writing from “Beekeepers Record & Journal” by Richard Taylor. My hope is that you enjoyed his writing & thoughts as much as I have. Happy Beekeeping!!
Peggy Ennis, IHPA Historian