Beekeeping Blog

2020. Is there more to say?

This has proven quite a year thus far. Looking back on March 2020 and our uncertainty about getting bees out of almonds in California amid the arrival of covid regulations, it seems like one of those tip of the iceberg moments rather than an anxiety that merited distraction.

The reality is that business is very good. There have simply been an unending stream of factors and challenges along the way. One of those challenges was the “derecho” that hit eastern Iowa several weeks ago. As usual, I was pushing the weather to get work done during the harvest season. I knew that there was a thunderstorm within striking distance but thought we had “just enough” time to get a yard pulled. That proved correct, but instead of a typical thunderstorm we witnessed hurricane force winds of over 100 mph for almost an hour. Trees snapped, grain bins blew across the countryside, and thousands of properties took damage. I will be working with chainsaws for months on my property. Fortunately, only 50 or so hives got tipped over during the storm. Only one hive was outright destroyed when a falling tree turned the hive box to splinters. Here is one of the huge grain bins that got twisted in the winds:

A quarter million bushel grain bin in Martelle after the storm. It was taken down in the weeks that followed.

We also lost a favorite truck. I looked up at the tree over this pickup before running for the basement. I thought about moving the pickup but figured it might be my last choice, so I headed for safety and dealt with the aftermath. If anyone is looking for a good 7.3L diesel engine, it still starts and sounds good. As of now we’re planning to put it on auctiontime.com

Farewell 7.3L F250. You were a fine machine.

The 2020 harvest was spotty on my side of the operation. There were more poor yards than great yards. We have a crop at least, so another year will proceed with honey reaching the store shelves. Mites are continuing to evolve into more of a problem, but I think we’ll have a good number of strong ones to load for California in another month or two. We had trouble with amitraz not working to kill mites, so that will lead to increased hive attrition. Formic and thymol continued to work decently. Oxalic treatments are in the mix as well.

Right now we’re working on getting the bees as healthy as possible and getting the loose pieces picked up from our 2020 adventure. Empty container availability is shaping up to be a challenge if covid makes production and distribution even more problematic this winter, so we’re working to build inventory. The waiting list is long. Hopefully nothing breaks at our production facility any time soon. They recently mentioned having no hope of meeting all orders on time even if they ran 24/7 through the end of the year.

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