Archives for: November 2017

Bees by the Truckload and an Affordable Bobcat For Sale!

by Jorge

We've begun organizing our system to be able to handle truckloads of bees as we maintain options for future growth, and Alex had the pleasure of setting up a new entry that can accommodate the in-and-out traffic from the big rigs. Here is the trusty Bobcat conquering its mission:

I've also got an 825 Bobcat that I've put up for sale as our need for lower hours and higher horsepower becomes clearer. It's a 42 hp unit that runs well. It took me a good while to find a low budget machine that was +35 hp, so hopefully it can serve someone else looking in that range well too. Here's a picture from earlier this year when I had the new tablesaw just off of a freight delivery. Click here for the Craiglist Ad.

"Bee Thankful" Pumpkins :)

by Jorge

It's the week of excellent dishes and baked goods boasting honey components--Happy Thanksgiving! There was a lovely array of bee pumpkins to celebrate the season at the conference mentioned in the last post. Feel the holiday season begin with ornamentation from the bee world!

The bees are almost perfectly nestled up for winter. If it blizzards tomorrow, I won't be too distraught. One mini project was beefing up the syrup hose after the old garden hose that I used for several years gave up the ghost. The new one is fancier but also has a lifetime warranty at the hardware store down the road and has better fittings to help it endure. By the time it dies I may forget that it has a lifetime warranty. The female fitting linked to the pump's plumbing is about two inches long:

And away we go! The cord trailing out of the tank is an immersion heater. Colder weather means some heat is needed for the pump to work properly (though not too much heat, or else the syrup will develop toxins that would defeat the purpose of winter feeding).

"Iowa Is About to Blowup in the Bee World" IHPA 2017

by Jorge

It was an interesting experience to hear "Iowa Is About to Blowup in the Bee World" come from the mouth of Dennis vanEngelsdorp (PhD at U Maryland). He is exceptional as a presenter--not a gift that many academics boast among their talents. He particularly spoke on the shifted curve for managing varroa successfully as the viruses they circulate have become ubiquitous. As for Iowa's apicultural potential, he was especially referring to rising talent and quality research shaping up at Iowa State University under Amy Toth and some other researchers of interest for the pollinator-loving public. Iowa was once reasonably prominent in the realm of beekeeping (several decades ago) but has really only rebuilt something of an identity in recent years. We now have a so-called "Bee Team" doing quality work again! They recently earned a $1M grant to study potential roles that prairie strips could play in providing better habitat for bees and other species in agricultural regions (85% of Iowa's landscape is commercially cultivated). Check out more on the STRIPS project at their website.

FYI, the annual meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers Association is rather substantial. Here is one of the pioneers in varroa research, Dr. Marion Ellis, in front of a crowd of almost 400! He was the course leader for the "master beekeeper" certification that I pursued when I was sixteen years old and driving my first car out to Nebraska (it didn't even have license plates yet!)

I also got a bit of a surprise for my presentation in a "breakout session." My experience with breakout sessions involves relatively small groups of several individuals to a couple of dozen people, but I decided it was best to breakout the PowerPoint in my pocket when over one hundred came to hear about queens! One of the great things about beekeeping conferences is that pretentious people are extremely rare, so jeans and hats are A-okay :)

All in all, it was an exceptional conference. The IHPA's vice president of the board of directors wins the job of organizing the details, and Eve Vanden Broek did an outstanding job this year. Moving up to the presidency may feel like a relief after the endless logistics leading to this past weekend's success!

November Bees and Feeding 2017

by Jorge

It's a misty November day. Yesterday was warm and sunny, so we went to several locations to continue winter preparations. I've been happy to see that where bees received feed this fall, there have not been a significant number of division board feeders with dead bees in them. Weak bees can't take the cool syrup and therefore drown at higher rates despite the ridges on the side of the feeder to provide footing for them. Strong bees coming from the warmth of strong clusters, on the other hand, store fall syrup safe-and-sound without falling victim to the wet stickiness. The syrup that goes into these boxes is strictly for winter/early spring consumption in the hive, so there's no risk of it mixing into the surplus boxes that collect our honey during the production season.

Here's one of the locations that did quite well with a honey crop and hasn't needed too much fall supplement. Still, it's good to be sure that they have plenty to make it through until March or April, so we provided a little more sustenance for their brood boxes yesterday. Here is my lady feeding away!

It does seem that a box in the foreground is held together with duct tape? Hmm, a few more months of use, I suppose, before replacement during the splitting season.

The most important conclusion from my perspective is the great satisfaction of strong populations at this point in the year, especially since the fall has proven substantially cooler than the last two autumn seasons.

Hopefully I will open this 4-pack next spring and find them in similarly good condition and not devoid of groceries!

Cartons will go on the hives during the next two weeks, and then it will be time to celebrate the holidays and concentrate on our own warmth!