The Beeyard Report
It always seems like I no more get done with
my column and it’s time to start another one. It’s
easy in the spring and summer. I just write down what is on my
mind. This time of year, it’s a lot harder. There are plenty
of things to think about, but the urgency isn’t there. My
mind is wandering around. There are a lot of different scenarios
that are possible. They all hinge on what the death loss is and
how fast the bees develop in the spring. I have 300 queens on
order. When I ordered them, I thought it was too many. Now, that
my death loss appears to be light, I wonder if I will have enough.
Thirty days down the line, things could look entirely different.
I was able to check some of my yards at the beginning
of February. It was a 60 degree day, so there was a lot of activity
in the yards. With the exception of one yard, I have almost no
death loss at this point. There is still plenty of time for it
to go the other way, however. I looked at 270 colonies and had
19 dead ones. Ten of the dead ones were in the same yard. It was
a yard that I failed to check for tracheal mites. There weren’t
any bees left in the hives so I am sure it was a mite problem.
The Varroa load was very low so that wasn’t the cause. There
are still eleven yards that I haven’t seen yet.
I’ve had been debating whether to sit on
my extra honey. If I did that I would have extra bees to sell.
Now, I’ve had a windfall. I was able to sell eight barrels
of my excess honey for a very good price. This puts me somewhere
in the middle of my plan. Usually, the plan doesn’t matter
that much. It’s all how the bees look when you get there.
The necessity is to be prepared for all contingencies.
Some of the offering prices for honey are down
eighty cents. I think it’s important to value our product.
If we don’t, no one else will. If you have to sell your
honey by the semi-load, you are more or less at the mercy of the
buyers. For those of you selling in smaller lots, remember you
have a unique local product. It should command a good price.
I remembered one thing I left out of the rewrite
last month’s column. One of the concerns of the people at
the bee lab in Tucson was the engineering of plants against insects.
They were worried that the systemic insecticides would find their
way into the pollen of the plants. This would result in the bees
hauling poison back to the hives. They are just starting to look
The price of wax has taken quite a jump. All
I have heard the few years is that the wax market is dead because
everybody in using plastic foundation. Well, it’s going
somewhere. Dadants are even buying wax. If I remember correctly,
the last time they did that was at the Tri-State meeting a couple
of years ago. I think that was just a one day deal because there
were so many beekeepers in town.
One thing I noticed last fall was that the bees
on feed remained very active in the hive, even when outside temps
were in the low 40’s. The ones without feed would be clustered
up. I wonder if this has anything to do with winter survival.
In theory, the ones on feed probably have brood longer. I have
never looked. I seldom pull a frame after the first week of October.
There just isn’t time. That’s all for now. I hope
everybody has wintered well.
Submitted by Phil Ebert
Summer Field Day
Date: July 16
Time: 9:30 (tentative)
Place: North Central Regional Plant Introduction Station –
(Directions to the station will be included in a later BUZZ)
Speaker: Gerry Reynolds a Kansas beekeeper who
has been working with the Russian bee both in Kansas and at the
Baton Rouge Lab in Louisiana. Part of Gerry’s presentation
will be a formal video which Gerry and the Baton Rouge group have
made to explain the history of the bee and how it was introduced
into the United States and the pros and cons of using the Russian
bees. Gerry will also explain and answer questions on his experience
working with the bees in his own honey business.
Submitted by Steve Hanlin