Bone Lake Meadows Apiary Blog

making the planet a better place one hive at a time.

Something in the Air April 2, 2012

Filed under: springtime happenings — dronedude @ 11:35 am

Wild Plum in Bloom

Combo Platter of Willow and Maple Pollen

The calendar says its beginning of April  but nature here in Minnesota  is showing us it is more like the end of the month. The sudden warm spell a few weeks ago set into motion a chain of events that is hard to slow down now. The bees have been taking advantage of this warmer than usual spring to build up their winter survival colonies rapidly. Beekeepers are grinning with joy and are probably in a minority when they hear the daily weather reports talk of a high pollen count for that day. A high pollen count means sustainable  life for the bee colony and that there is ample foraging food for the bees to collect and bring back to the colony. Fresh pollen from  the plants and trees set into motion the regeneration of the natural life cycle of the hive. If there is food outside, their will be new brood being raised inside by the queen with support from her workers. This part of Minnesota has about sixteen weeks of natural production of flora. For hives to survive , they must build up in colony strength and be ready to make the most of that window of opportunity to gather enough resources to survive another cold harsh winter.

 In the meantime, apologies to all those people suffering from  spring time allergies  but we beekeepers have not been getting a lot of good news lately in the press, with colonies dying off and such. Try not to deny us a few moments of glee when we hear pollen alerts are being issued for a particular spring day. To us that is life springing forward.

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Route 66 Arizona March 12, 2012

Filed under: springtime happenings — dronedude @ 8:59 pm

The first week of March, I swarmed down to Oracle, Arizona (an hour north of Tucson), for an organic beekeepers convention. It was fun and interesting to meet and compare notes from treatment free beekeepers from all over America, Canada, England, Mexico and New Zealand. The most interesting part of the three-day conference was not so much the formal presenters (okay , they were good too) but the water cooler chats that sprang up during breaks and hanging out by the fire at night. It was then that I had time to compare notes on how the heck you can keep bees in 120 degree F. weather in the deserts of Mexico. Or can bees really survive along the coastline in British Columbia where they get close to 150 inches of rain in a year? Of course, everyone would ask how do Minnesota bees make it when temperatures get down to -40 F and snow is piled up to the second floor windows of your house. Like the people who live in all these climates, the bees adapt or die.

It was a time to share and compare with people that have been treatment free a lot longer than the three years we have. Though the conference numbered under a hundred people, there was a lot of support and solidarity to avoid going back to the dark side of chemicals and corn syrup beekeeping.

An interesting fact was announced on the last day. Everyone in attendance was asked to report their annual hive loss and the conference would then come up with an average loss  for the group. The group as a whole had just under a 10 percent loss ratio out of over 1,500 clean hives. That is dramatically lower than the 31 percent loss that was reported a month earlier at the American Honey Convention held in Las Vegas where the big commercial beekeepers and pollinators congregated. Numbers don’t lie. We have to risk failure to achieve success!!!

Wow, leave the state of Minnesota for a few days and come back and find spring waiting for you on the back steps. Saw the first robin of the year yesterday – a full week ahead of last years first sighting. Canadian Geese are back a full ten days earlier than last year returning from their Gulf of Mexico states. Temperatures were setting records all weekend up here in the northern plains.

I had a chance to peek under the hoods of most of the hives. Out of the eighteen hives I inspected in five different locations, only one did not make it. That particular hive had superseded its queen in early fall and it appeared it did not have ample time to build up its colony strength so I was not  shocked to see the hive lifeless this spring.

The rest of the hives were flying around and all seemed to have capped honey stores in reserve to hold them over until the buds break and pollen forms in another week or so. Lone wolf hive was in good shape with bees on five of nine frames in the top box  and a small area of capped over brood to keep population stable until natural food sources explode in the wilderness.

The majority of these hives are coming out of their first winter being totally chemical treatment free and sugar syrup supplement free. There are a few of these hives coming out of their second winter with two year old queens that look just as strong and healthy. The future looks bright so far in this little parcel of earth. Bees being bees at the 49 degree latitude with an all natural attitude.

 

spring is a coming March 1, 2012

Filed under: kelseybee!,springtime happenings — queen frederica @ 5:35 pm

“The more you investigate these creatures and the manner in which they live, the more you will come to the conclusion that there is great wisdom in how they work and what they accomplish.”
-Rudolf Steiner

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Last Thursday the first cycle of brood hatched here at the Biodynamic Agriculture College. It was a beautiful sunny day and all of us students were sitting barefoot in the gardens soaking up the sun’s energy. It was the first taste of spring as we all felt that connection with the sun. Bees are definite creatures of the sun and are far more tuned into it than us humans. I can imagine they were waiting for it more than I..

Since ancient times here in Western Europe on February 2nd people have been celebrating Candlemas (or Feast of Lights before Christianity). It marks the midpoint between winter solstice and spring equinox and is considered the beginning of spring by many. It is a time when the earth starts awakening and farmers prepare for the coming season. The promises of the return of the light and the renewal of life which were made at the winter solstice are becoming evident. The bees, too, sensed this awakening because it was the day the queen laid her first eggs of the year. Exactly 21 days (time of a worker bee to develop) after Candlemas new bees emerged from the hive. Each day more and more pollen is coming in.. oh the things to come.

Happy March!

 

baberham lincoln June 15, 2011

Filed under: bees,springtime happenings — queen frederica @ 12:21 pm

bee on dandelion much earlier this spring

 

I’ve ranted in previous blogs about my opinions on packages and buying bees that come off monoculture and GMO crops – it’s no surprise to hear that I don’t agree with it. This year we chose not to buy packages from such operations and I will never do it again. It’s not anything personal, just different markets, goals and ways of achieving them.

There was some talk of “biting the hand that feeds you” when we said we were not supporting the local, middle men bee suppliers. Last time I checked, I was the only one feeding me. As somebody taking a few steps closer to more sustainable practices, it’s in my interest to learn how to do these things myself, hence no blogs in the past month..too much to do!

 

Over winter I had a goal to learn to make queens in Hawaii so we didn’t have to buy bees this spring. Well, the shenanigans with mites, diseases and beetles that hit the islands all my energy was focused on nursing hives back to health over there. Being the ambitious newbee I am, I didn’t let that get in my way..I am hell-bent on making queens. *Thanks Mike for dealing with my stubborn mindset and allowing it all come together*

 

Queen Baberham Lincoln and Me in the fireweed hive of bliss


Above is a picture of the first hive we requeened. We made our queens in nucs where they were hatched and mated before combining them with a colony. It was a success and I’m proud to say that I can now check one more thing off life goal list. The remainder of the season we will see how it plays out. If it goes as planned, I hope to be supplying friends with quality, local queens next year.

 

 

 

 

current nectar and pollen May 18, 2011

Filed under: food sources,springtime happenings — queen frederica @ 10:04 pm

This is what our bees are after recently here in Scandia.

dandelions coming to and end

wild plums in the middle of their bloom

apple blossoms just starting to open up today

These 3 things make particularly amazing honey.

 

Mother’s Day weekend happenings May 8, 2011

Filed under: bees,food sources,springtime happenings — queen frederica @ 12:19 pm

bee and soul food

Spring has kept us on our toes here at Bone Lake Meadows. It’s been a slow start but it seems like the weather is taking a turn for the better and might stop getting so dang chilly. It’s the crap weather that really makes you see just how hardy the breeds of bees we work with are. Our highest survival rate has been with Italian bees. Posted below is a video of a very strong colony that survived winter. (Video taken after a spit)

This colony is what we look for in a strong colony of bees: gentle, prolific, large honey producers, hygienic and beautiful. Winter losses are hard but if it leaves you with bees like these, we can’t complain. We know that the bees that survived winter are very strong and won’t go down easily. This video demonstrates survival of the fittest. These bees are ready to kick butt and take names this year!

Weather reporters have been taking about the high pollen counts — beekeepers can’t be happier!! Excellent for raising healthy and happy bees! Willows are not only beautiful right now, but a great pollen source for the bees right now.

willow next to the chicken coop

 

checking hives March 27, 2011

Filed under: springtime happenings — queen frederica @ 8:29 am

Yesterday Mike and I went up to the orchard to check on some hives. As everyone knows (except me) it’s been a long winter so our goal was to clean up the hives we lost and feed the ones we still have. It’s always hard to lose a hive so it wasn’t pleasant work but little did we know there was a surprise for us..