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Early Autumn Bee World — Late September 2022

We are wrapping up the very last phases of the honey harvest and turning our focus to building hive health for overwintering. In the image above, Andrew is enjoying running some nice thick honey frames through the uncapper. Most of the frames we are spinning right now are partials, so it takes quite a while to fill the barrels compared to earlier in the season. Nonetheless, it all adds up. It wasn’t an awesome honey season, but it was decent, especially considering how hard we split hives to hold up the colony count after mite issues in central Iowa last year.

Right now the mite counts have stayed low, but we are about to go through the concentration “surge” that happens as the last drones emerge, the worker population decreases, and the mites continue to reproduce if not held in check. I put the surge in quotation marks because it’s a totally predictable phase that always feels like a dramatic increase if you’re not prepared for how the math works at this time of year. The formic pads seemed effective, and we hope to clean up the operation with gentler oxalic acid methods going into winter. We are also going to push feed wherever needed to keep the bees happy and raising another round of brood to help them survive the winter. In roughly two weeks (or sooner) the hives will just get lighter and lighter, so it’s good to stay ahead of the situation while it is still warm enough for them to take supplementary nutrition quickly and healthily.

On the container business front, it looks like we’ve just come through the sales surge that comes along with harvest season. Beekeepers and bottlers all order containers for personal sales and business purposes as they forecast their situation in view of the honey they produced and the approach of peak winter sales. I have a sense that a good number of beekeepers still need to order their yard rent jugs, but we have a ton of those in stock. 48 oz jugs are very common for yard rent deliveries in the upper midwest.

Sammy proudly stands with several dozen cases of containers that went out by the piece on a Speedee Delivery semi. Obviously a parcel van wasn’t going to do the job on that day!

Otherwise we continue on our own delivery route and use lots of containers for our own purposes. We have come a long way since the days of bottling in the basement and stacking product on the staircase until it was loaded and distributed in a subcompact car or pickup.

 Here we have the 2000 F450 all loaded up with containers to be filled for honey distribution around Iowa. May the 7.3L diesels never die! Our road miles are impressive as the decades run together.

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