Fall and Winter seem to come every year

Readers know that the writer is a beekeeper and not a blogger…while he beekeeps he does not blog, but here we are together again facing the cold winter months after a Spring Summer and Fall with the honeybees.

Ospreyland bee country started slowly this past Spring; the bees struggled to come through and the weather didnt help much.  The phenomenon of struggling bees has been the subject of great conjecture, debate and conflicting science over the past year or so…this beekeeper is no scientist and at times feels barely qualified as a beekeeper but he does know some things: he had a bumper crop last year during which the varroa mite thrived, so the bees made lots of honey last year but they also took a pretty high mite load into winter–not good ( beekeeper takes the blame :(….also this year we had a cool wet spring and a very limited time-frame for nectar flow…if you missed it you missed it..some of our bees who were still weakened at the time…missed it.  The nature of farm crops moving toward a monoculture of corns, soybeans is not a great thing for bees…it reduces the space for natural flower forage for bees nectar (carbs) and pollen (proteins) and the much discussed use of embedded seed pesticides is at least, stressful.

So all that said, while we did yield less honey crop than last year but we still have enough for all our customers :))

The bees were all fed and wrapped for winter months as of October 31st …this time of year always keeps the beekeeper guessing – how did that hive look before I wrapped it? was it strong? weak? weakening? did it take enough feed? is the mite load satisfactory? will the lid stay on through the winter blows? will the bears tip over the entire bee yard and make it all for nought? sheessh!

The beekeeper has done his best and now turns his attention to the wood shop for equipment repair and construction–wood stoving, snow blowing and worrying about the bees…here we come..

Watch this page for a Spring report..oh wait…if the bees are roaring the beekeeper will be busy and if the bees are weak the beekeeper will be busy…the blogger may continue to be a bit unreliable…keep the bee faith 

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Summer was – Fall is Winter looms

Summer was- Fall is – Winter looms

First a few words on the Summer Bee season…..it  came and went….it was dry until August…a dandy dandelion season and then nothing until July…most farms going to corn with limited value for bees and their beekeepers but some good guys out there with Canola and Alfalfa and wildflower forage in the natural untouched fence rows and ditches….beeuty.

OBH (OspreyBluffsHoney) added some yards down the mountain this year and the bees there got an extra 2 weeks of flow.   Some of the single splits ( you know..new hives from this past spring) made well over the average of honey and others only 5 kms way…nearly nothing…overall the average was quite good, the beekeeper effort was also above average and able bodies were called in for late summer beekeeping, honey pulling and honey extraction…this help has been divine intervention as solo, the OspreyBeekeeper would still bee waaaaay behind.   A month of pulling and extracting and barreling honey has passed.. now the crop is off and most of the barrels have been shipped…even the honey house is “kleeny”…the bees have been feeding on the sweet treats delivered courtesy their keepers and some are hungrier than expected… a cause for some Osprey Beekeeper trepidation as our weather around the Bluffs closes in on winter.  The Osprey Beekeeper has harnessed the Big Red and the Polaris and the sugar trailers in anticipation of some winter feeding runs…boo….but a bee One does what a bee One must do for the bees..they have done their part so we Keepers will do ours…one foot in front of the other is progress no matter how small….standing still is not an option…happily, honeybees and their beekeepers have this in common..

Another 3 or 4 visits to each yard and the bees will be fed and wrapped to huddle together until the weather gets back to a consistent and civil  >10’c…the Beekeeper still has time to get the 3Ton truck mud-stuck a few more times, discover hives that looked great a couple of weeks ago and now are doubtful.

So while  he celebrates the bounty of a good crop and success for 2012, there’s still time to get humble for a winter-tyme of wondering…….”what comes in the Spring 2013″…stay tuned for the update from the Osprey Beekeeper

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Spring has been Springing

The first day of Spring in Ospreyland– the Bees have been flying for more than a few weeks already and an early walk thru snow a week or so ago revealed…..Bees…lots and lots of Bees in many healthy hives.  At first the revelation is an elation..its so nice to visit yards and see the Bees flying; cleansing, hauling in pollen and rearing brood getting ready with great numbers for an early nectar flow……maybe even an extra honey crop….but then the beekeeper’s reality sets in motion what’s called beekeeper anxiety;   with bees flying early and hauling in pollen, they  will use extra honey stores and may need to be emergency fed…ok that 100 acre walk over the plowed field with a couple of 30 lb pails of syrup will be good exercise for ….the dog.  An early nectar flow and and possibility of extra crop will be economical and getting the honey house set up early while beekeeping shouldn’t be too too much problem :(…  then there is the benefit to the varroa mite who really enjoys a longer brood rearing season… if the beekeeper gets around fast enough while feeding bees, controling mites and possibly taking off an extra honey crop, he may even stem the higher likelihood for swarming.  It is great to get out of the wood shop and into the beeyards.. if  this Spring is an indicator,  the summer will be what the Bees call a bzzy hummmdinger. The Ospreybeekeeper is now with the bees and will update further as revelations appear.

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The rise and Fall season of Bees and the Beekeeper

Autumn has arrived on the calendar, the honey bees in Osprey Bluffs Honey country sensed it early… regular readers will know that we had a tough long winter, a reluctant spring and the Osprey Beekeeper is here now to report that the summer of 2011 delivered only one or two good honey flows and they came late. We watched the Bees and pulled a wee bit of honey in August and then toiled to keep the hives and beeyards healthy for a late August honey flow. The Bees did quite well in August and by the end of September the flows were done, the honey pulled, extracted and barreled. In the next week the girls will be fed and wrapped for their winter protection, The honey quality is bee-utiful again and the hive averages are pretty good at Osprey Bluffs Honey Company–it is always an amazement to see what the honey bee can pull out of what seems to the human observer to be a season of lackluster blooms and nectar .

 

This beekeeper closes this honey season sure that all readers whether beekeeper, beelover or honey gormets or just gormands will be with him as he says a few weather words at the close of each day to influence a sudden drop in temperature with plenty of snow as insulation and a number of early fly days above 10 degrees C for cleansing flights– all this ideally to start no earlier than the end of November and be over by the 1st of April at which time we can once again enjoy the start of a new bee season.

 

Until then, enjoy the 2011 honey bounty and protect the bees any way you know how.

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The summer of the Bees (and their Beekeeper)

Summer arrived just this past week in Osprey Bee Country— its middle July! The Bees struggled through a long winter and a long cold wet spring. It was mid June before the Osprey Beekeeper could split colonies and introduce new Queens and only now are these new colonies at a pace where we might be thinking of adding a box to make any honey in August. Last year at this time we had a first crop of honey in barrels. Poor Beekeepers! Regular readers will know that this Beekeeper understands his role as servant to the Bees and in exchange for his dedicated toiling, they make a Fall honey contribution— well based on progress so far this year, the Bees will be indebted– so it goes.

We are still working through some old hives — I mean OLD– like rural outdoor museum pieces that would be at home in early Egyption beeyards (maybe) – the bees love these old hideouts but they are way too hard to work through for the old Beekeeper, so its a real modernization program underway – yup, haul the old ones away with the 1950’s BeeTruck Crane and move the bees into the new and improved Lorenzo Langstroth hive design circa 1850.

The bears in Ospreyland have been entertaining themselves in our Beeyards as have the raccoons and skunks–some of these creatures more successful than others and we’ll leave the reader to take their own inference.
The yards are looking great, the grass is cut and the bees are flying – this is the best time of year for the Osprey Beekeeper because the days have long sun, there is life in every yard, there is usually a bee puzzle or two to solve and the nectar flows are underway; wildflowers and cash crop canola in full bloom. Nows the time to add honey boxes, keep the yards trimmed up, get the honey house organized in preparation for Fall harvest when we will collect our honey-dues and start all over with the bee-circle-of-life.

When the OspreyBeekeeper Blogs next we’ll hear about the summer honey crop and getting ready for putting the bees to bed for – dare we say it….WINTER!!!

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Honey bees their beekeeper and the reluctant spring

Over the last month or so as mother nature teased with temperatures approaching Spring weather, the Osprey Beekeeper visited every hive. Evidence of a long winter here in Ospreyland Ontario Canada, came with the sound of hollow boxes all too often….yes, there were some yards where none of our little pollinator, nectar gatherer friends made it. One never gets used to the sound of hive silence and the cold darkness of a brood box devoid of apis mellifera but a Beekeeper perseveres.

What happened? Hmmm, last summer started very early here and while this was great for getting bees going, others like bee pest varroa destructor “mites” also were thriving and while the honey bees were doing their job so was the varroa mite.

A hive without a young queen to keep a good size winter cluster in the colony was destined to weaken under the burden of varroa and the possibility for failure must always be considered dare we say,anticipated?

The Osprey Beekeeper has some hives ‘boiling over” with bees but many that will be re-queened and repopulated so they might make a contribution to the honey crop in 2011.

The Beekeeper’s work for 2011 has started now, early this past month trudging through long walks in the snow with emergency or late winter feed, checking hives, closing empty ones, feeding a bit of protein, moving fallen trees off the tops of bee boxes, getting yards ready for new season.

As the Beekeeper gets used to the idea that she/he has a lot of work to do to get the hive #’s back up after a tough winter, it gets exciting to prepare the yards and the equipment to receive new stock to grow with the longer warmer days and into nectar flows and keeping the bees to bring pure natural honey to the honey house in the Fall.

The OspreyBeekeeper has emerged from the long winter doldrums – the slow season for bees and their beekeepers is over, the Beekeeper will keep our Bee Friends posted.

Follow for daily twitter “tweets’ @OspreyBeekeeper or look for Osprey Bluffs Honey Company on Facebook

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Spring Approaches the Beekeeper

Bee-lievers:

Winter is fighting for its life here in the Osprey Bluffs, but it is weakening daily and the OspreyBeekeeper and  the Bees know it.  Spring approaches now with longer days and warmer nights about to despatch the despair of long, dark, cold days in the shop building and repairing equipment.  Yes, Spring gives hope for a new season with long warm days of Bee work.  The Bees have started their work already; the Queen resumed laying eggs last month and will be up to 1500 or so a day soon. The workers have had a chance to take a relief flight or two on a few of the warm sunny windless days, the snow around the bee yard is peppered with the evidence – a beautiful site really, soon they will be able to spend more time outside and will start cleaning up after the long winter.  The OspreyBeekeeper built enough equipment for about 100 hives, some of these will be replacement and a few others net new for expansion – at Osprey Bluffs Honey Company its not about getting BIG, its about being GREAT.

We had Bears and Rustlers in a couple of yards over this past winter- neither of these can be shot– legally — but a fireplace rug made from the hide of either sounds good.

When the Bees start flying early next month they will first be looking to the early pollens for their proteins and to feed rapidly growing brood- the OspreyBeekeeper may give them a bit of pollen feed as a treat, then comes flowers and nectar flows.  Well before this tho the Beekeeper will be out several times to get the bees ready.  Healthy hives come from anticipating events that include emergency feed, illness, parasites and failing queens so that as many hives as possible are ready to go with lots of workers when the nectar flow hits.   Its this anticipation work that assures you of a plentiful supply of Pure Natural Ontario Honey in the Fall.  By now you should be running low on Honey and if not – eat up!

The new Osprey Bluffs Honey House is well underway- take a look at us on FACEBOOK and on TWITTER by clicking on the links from this website’s Contact US or Home Page, there are daily updates about the Bees, Beekeeping and subjects more or less related as the OspreyBeekeeper sees fit.

Checkin here over the late Spring and Summer to see how the Bees made it through the winter and how the pollen and nectar flows are looking– the OspreyBeekeeper got the  first bee sting today… only a hundred or so more to go!

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The Winter of the Beekeeper

Welcome to the Bee Friends blog.  Here, Friends of the Bees will find notes, rambles and observations of interest from the Osprey Beekeeper on a range of topics related to Bees, Beekeeping and Honey.  Mostly, the Osprey Beekeeper will write for the interested Bee Observer– much is written by Scientists and others for digestion by expert beekeepers but the OspreyBeekeeper hears from many observers who simply enjoy the idea of Bees and who savour the fruit of Bee labor but have no strong interest in becoming beekeeping experts.  The OspreyBeekeeper, by nature may stray from time to time into areas that pop into mind as germane, only your comments on the blog can keep Osprey Beekeeper in check – maybe.

Friends and Bee-lievers:

Its deep Winter here in Bee Country – that means the Bees stay full time in their hives, all the male drones were dispatched as surplus in the Autumn season ( we call that season Fall here in Osprey Bee Country), the colony of female worker bees has been reduced from over 60,000 to only 10,000 or 15,000 bees plus the single Queen.  The girls are focused now on keeping warm and sustaining themselves and their Queen with honey stores which I left behind in October.  The Queen stopped laying eggs late fall and will resume thru February so that the hive is ready to go into early spring pollen collection and then summer honey flows. ( more about that as Spring approaches) Many ask me about the health of the bees — it is winter when this Beekeeper worries the most – a parasitic mite called Varroa is a Bee demon, Nosema is a digestive disease that makes bees sick from inside and there are other brood diseases that a colony weakened in Fall, wont survive over the winter.  Pesticides and fungicides that are so helpful on the side of agricultural productivity are not at all harmless to the Bees.  The Beekeeper’s job is all about building and sustaining healthy Beehives, working with the Bees to manage for these issues.

When the Bees are in hive in winter, it gives me some time to get ready for spring expansion and replacements.  The Bee wood shop is filling up with new boxes, lids, bottom boards and inner covers as well as frames for the Bees in the spring.   Lots of sawdust and kindling is accumulating too – all my fingers are still attached for those concerned or even curious at all.

The Osprey Bluffs Honey Company is about to break ground on a very exciting new project – THE NEW HONEY HOUSE– this will be a focus of attention for the balance of the winter and will be ready before next Fall for bringing the honey boxes ( known as “supers”) in for honey extraction and packaging pure natural Ontario honey for you.

I hope you will watch this space for more tidbits on the seasonal development of the Bees; next time, I’ll let you know how the bees come through the winter and what kind of weather and flora we are getting to help them with nectar gathering and will keep you aware of interesting Honey House events– I hope too that you will plan a trip to the Osprey Bluffs Honey Company honey house and even think about visiting  a bee yard to taste some pure honey from the comb.”

The OspreyBeekeeper blogs from time to time as the Bee season unfolds, he twitters daily @OspreyBeekeeper and can be found on Facebook too – quite amazing for a Beekeeper really…

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Osprey Bluffs Honey

Welcome to the Osprey Bluffs Honey Company blog.  Here you will find news about Bees and the world of honey, health facts and local crop information (what is in bloom, how the bees are doing….).

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