Not much honey

by Jorge

Yesterday I drove around to see what transpired while I was away to England and Sweden, but the news wasn't the best. We're closing in on August and there hasn't been a really good flow in all of the yards. About 1/3 of them have had a significant amount of honey fill the boxes, but there is a long stretch to go before a respectable crop hits the barrels. Five inches of rain in the last week hasn't helped our prospects. On the fortunate side, I did pull half a dozen boxes of cut comb yesterday. At least we have a start on the Iowa State Fair demands.

Also, the building has made great strides toward completion in the past couple of weeks. We still need some finishing touches on the basic structure, but the main thing is the electrical work. Hopefully the electrical guys can make it in the next couple of weeks as well.

Here is our newly lengthened building--quite the increase....

This is the future extracting room--it seems we might not get to use it until next year though.

And a little extra storage space should help ease congestion in the warehouse.

Some honey on the way

by Jorge

The odds for a good crop are increasing. Some of the strong colonies have already begun to gather a couple of boxes of honey. Most of the splits still have very little or nothing stored away for us. The bloom is pretty good, and we definitely have enough soil moisture to sustain the flowers if we could manage a couple of weeks of hot weather to work some magic.

In other news, our building has finally started to take shape after a few months of waiting for the rains to ease.

A new beeyard

by Jorge

This morning Alex and I moved several pallets into their permanent spot in a new location. The landowner has hosted our bees in one spot or another for the last fifteen years--now some land juggling has us at his future homestead. In total contrast to the homebuilders that wanted our bees off their land earlier this spring, Rusty asked us to put bees at the site where he wants to build a new home and dig a pond. Twenty-four colonies sit in the clearing I made yesterday, so he shouldn't have any shortage of honeybees to watch from his porch.

As soon as we got done with the morning move, the rains returned in earnest for a couple of hours. Clearing skies permitted me to start some more queens in the afternoon, but the forecast tells me that substantial rain is on the way for the next couple of days. We're starting to have some pressure to get the bees supered before Anthony's wedding this month. There may be supering in the rain if the weather persists in this manner. Ick.

The building (almost) begins.....

by Jorge

We had hoped that the building expansion for our honey house would get underway in February or March, but last week the weather cooperated enough to allow some dirt work.

When the addition is complete, we will have twice the space to work with. One section of the new building will house the extracting line, meaning we won't have to bottle and extract in the same room. That will free a lot of space and permit for larger equipment for bottling or extracting if we ever go that route.

Otherwise, the rain is back. Cool wet spring keeps hanging around--not great for bees to say the least.

Where have the queens gone?

by Jorge

After a slow, slow start to the beekeeping season, we have managed to run out of queens. There were an excess of them on order, but we distributed so many that we have run short ourselves. Enough to finish splitting should arrive on Friday.

I did not have much luck with the lot of queens that came from Mark Sundberg. I think that about thirty percent of them failed. The majority of the failures had no evidence of a queen two weeks after introduction, but in several cases the yellow queen was just walking around the comb not doing anything---not even drone eggs. In the end it seems lucky that the MN queens arrived second, otherwise I would have lost a lot of time on my splits with even more failed queen introductions. I will probably look elsewhere for MN Hygienics for next year. Perhaps he will have some explanation. Our Koehnen queens give us an acceptance rate that is normally over ninety percent.

Tomorrow I graft the first homegrown queens of the summer....one month behind the typical schedule.

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