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July 2012 - Page 6

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The craziness has subsided for the time being. The bees are supered. We are setting up our extracting system and waiting for the crop. I have had time to go to some baseball and softball games. Kyle VanDyke, who bottles honey for us, plays on the junior high team. Adam's bees in the Cedar Rapids area have been on a massive flow that started around June 7. The five county area where we have bees in Central Iowa has not been so kind. The bees started coming back into the supers around June 8. Most of the colonies in our Otley yard had a half box of honey by then.


The Jansen yard, that is just across the river from Lynnville, made a half box in May but hasn't done a thing since. We are waiting on the rest of the yards. I am always a little nervous until the first box gets filled. I like to get the expenses covered. Comb honey is a big deal for us but the bees haven't had a flow big enough to stimulate them to get on the foundation. We usually have all of the cut comb boxes out by now but not this year.



It's hard to assess where we are at. In many ways the season has been a month in advance. Yellow sweet clover was finished by mid June. The bees didn't get a thing off of it. It was too cool during much of the blooming period. Trefoil wasn't in full bloom until June 5. That's about normal. It's impossible to predict what lies ahead. It is very dry in the Lynnville area. The storms that went through only left 0.03" of rain as of June 20. The beans look bad and the leaves on the corn are curling.

After years of having stacks of queen excluders lying around, we wound up short this year. We have a number of singles---250 to 300. Those require queen excluders. There wasn't time to let them grow into doubles. We were short on combs so the splits have to draw several frames of foundation. I have a feeling we may never have this many colonies again. Boxes and frames were purchased in large numbers to allow us to deal with the bees. If we get a crop we will be able to sell off the excess next year and come out financially.


I am still reflecting on our extraordinary queen acceptance this year. It was well over 95%. Last year it may have been 80% if we were lucky. What was the difference? I can only guess. I know the weather was better and we had a bit of a flow going on during splitting. Also, the splits were smaller. The split boxes had a lot of foundation in them. The bees readily move on to the brood frames but don't cover the foundation. My rule of thumb has always been--the smaller the split them more likely the new queen will be accepted.


I am a little concerned about the transmission on the flatbed. The teeth on reverse gear are ground down to almost nothing. This is a wound that is somewhat self inflicted. The truck has a hydraulic clutch. I knew the petal had way too much free play. The result of this being the clutch does not completely disengage. It doesn't make any difference on the forward gears. Those are helically cut. The reverse gear has straight teeth. Everything has to stop moving to shift into reverse. I didn't realize how bad it had gotten until I drove the truck in the spring. I bought a Teflon bushing at the hardware store and ground and carved on it until I had something that would take up most of the slack. My intent was to do something with it after supering was done. Now that we are finished supering, it is time to pull the first boxes. This means the tranny has to live a few more months. I will let you know how things go.


Alex and I went to the Field Day. Two people inquired about the condition of my horse. If anybody else is interested, she is holding her own. She looks really good but old age is catching up with her. She has a trickle of blood coming out of her nose. This was explained to me as a problem in her head that could cause her to bleed out. It doesn't appear to be that bad at this point, although I can tell it irritates her. She also has a really bad knee. She can't run any more but walks normally. As long as she is comfortable, I'll keep her around. I also have a pony that keeps the horse company. They don't like to get too far apart.


Here's hoping for a good crop!!

Submitted by Phil Ebert