Note From Walt
Winter is a chill time for our
honeybees as they anxiously await the turning
of the seasons, and the beekeepers may well
bee chillin’, having done their best readying
their bees for this season. It is also a time
for reflection of the past season and preparation
of the year to come.
The season of 2009 was as interesting
as a maiden roller coaster ride with its ups
and downs. The season began with a rising honey
flow that then fell to rainy weather, only to
rise again with the arrival of fall.
By stimulating our colonies very
early in the spring, our bees were ready when
the first honey flow presented itself. The populations
were xtremely strong, and we were adding honey
supers to the hives in a rather aggressive manner.
The bees responded by filling the supers with
honey, and we kept adding supers or “supering
up” as need bee.
The hives grew into ‘towers’
as our super supplies dwindled, and we were
left scrambling for more honey supers. We were
anticipating a record-breaking year, and with
hives that were bubbling over with bees, we
needed to stay focused on spring management.
Our preferred method of swarm prevention employs
passive ‘splitting’ of the hives.
This practice increases our hive numbers, and
consequently requires additional brood supers.
We purchase our woodenware from Isaac Zook at
Forest Hill Woodworking. The following conversation
portrays how this Amish woodworker beecame my
stock broker as we ascended. “Well, not
so much need for the honey supers that we ordered
last week, but instead double the brood supers
that we talked about.”
Life was good thru May, but then
came June, as it always does. However, June
’09 was far wetter than any recent recollection.
With massive populations and minimal flight
time, ‘the girls got into mischief.’
Well, they needed food, and their solution was
to move up into the honey supers of ‘surplus’
honey. The honey supers beecame the nursery,
and we spent most of June making corrections,
by reintroducing the queen down to the brood
supers, and inserting queen xcluders beelow
the honey supers for production. Queen xcluders
beecame necessary far earlier than expected
during this tumultuous season, but the roller
coaster ride continued.
July and August in Chester County
is normally a time of nectar dearth; however,
sufficient rainfall extended the honey flow.
We were very fortunate to harvest an average
yield of seventy-five pounds per hive during
a wetter than normal season. This is substantially
lower than the yields we have grown accustomed
to. Such is farming.
We did xtremely well with bee
pollen production, and plans are underway for
increasing the number of colonies in our pollen
yards. Our marketing of fresh bee pollen has
extended coast to coast, and has been endorsed
by bee pollen enthusiasts nationwide.
We anxiously await to see what
twenty ten has in store for our beeloved honeybee.