Spring Update

Hi ‘Stalkers,

The bees started bringing in pollen this week. I bought a microscope last fall and I’ve been learning how to identify pollen using it. I have confirmed the first fresh pollen of this year is alder pollen. Alder pollen is very distinctive under the microscope: while most pollen is round or oblong, alder pollen is square or pentagonal. I’m glad I’ve finally found a unique and easy pollen to identify! A lot of pollen looks almost the same to this newbie beginner pollen-IDer.

The bees look great again this year. To date I’ve had 5% winter losses, which is the same as what I had last year. I haven’t treated with fumagillin in two years now, with the exception of a small handful of sick hives last spring. I haven’t used apivar in over a year. Combined with the lack of intensive agriculture in my neck of the woods, I’m tempted to apply for organic certification now. I’m not sure if I will but I’ll make sure you hear about it if I do!

I continue to have my honey for sale at the Old Strathcona Market. My stall is still along the west wall. I’ll be back outside at the City Market Downtown in May.

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Moving Stalls At Strathcona Market

Heads up: Beanstalk Honey is in a new location this month at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.

We’ll now be on the west wall between Happy Camel and Little Jack Horner Meat Pies. This weekend we’ll have fresh pollen, comb honey, and the last fresh honey of the season. We’ll be at the Downtown Market this weekend and next and then we’ll just be at the Old Strathcona Market. We decided not to go into City Hall this year, although it’s a great market in there.

The bees this year

It was great seeing all your familiar faces at the City Market Downtown yesterday; all of you troopers who came out to greet us on such a wet, chilly day are appreciated. I’m marking this opening day in my memory banks: I didn’t need to give out a single plastic bag! Everyone brought down their own bags or used their pockets. Thanks!

As far as my bees go, they look great. They’re the strongest I’ve ever seen them at this time of year and I have no signs of any brood diseases. Provided I can keep everyone from swarming, the hives should be fine this year. This rain is going to help get some nectar into the flowers, so hopefully we’ll be okay there too.

As far as the markets, I’m working at keeping all my products in stock. I’m at the City Market Downtown every Saturday this summer and I’ve got my fingers crossed for being at Old Strathcona for a while longer too. Because they’re both on the same day, I have a lovely new person behind my stall at Strathcona. Be sure to say hi and welcome her to the company!

 

In the field with the bees

Here are some photos from the summer of taking care of bees.  They’re taken at the apiary of Bear Creek Honey, not my own apiary at The Beanstalk.

First we check the frames of honey to make sure they're ready to be taken away for extraction..

Then we blow the bees off with a reverse-vacuum cleaner thing, creatively called a "bee blower."

Blowing bees was mostly my job because there is no heavy lifting. On occassion, I may have fallen asleep while blowing bees. It gets a bit repetitive.

Then we take the bee-less boxes of honey and stack them on the truck, ready to be hauled off to the extracting room.

Watch out for crawling bees! The blown-off bees land on the ground and crawl back to their hive if they don't feel like flying. They like to crawl up, so if they met my boots, up they crawled. Apparently duct tape is key to making sure they bees can't crawl under the coverall cuffs. Alternatively, tucking the coveralls into the boots works too; bees don't like crawling down.

Check out the native bumblebee nest! See the honey pots in the center bottom? The bubble-looking cells are developing baby bees.