The spring weather has been excellent! Lately we’ve seen a very desirable sequence of weather patterns. A few sunny days followed by a day or two of rain. This is perfect because on hot, dry days the flowers don’t produce a lot of nectar.
The hives are all thriving, especially those that overwintered. The new hives from NZ are growing fast, but not as fast as they could due to the fact that we used bare frames in the supers. Which means that the bees have to draw comb onto the frame before filling it with pollen or nectar. Making comb takes considerable energy for the bees, but once that process is complete the honey starts to flow pretty quickly.
We have a few natural methods to stimulate the process, time will tell how effective they are.
There has been some interesting news in Nova Scotia regarding Blueberry Pollination. As some of you may know, Nova Scotia is the second largest producer of blueberries in Canada, and therefore, blueberry growers are the number one clients of beekeepers in the province.
This year there have been a number of events that led us to decide not to offer pollination. As I had spoken-of, in a previous newsletter, the larger growers have been issued permits by the province, allowing them to import 1000 hives from areas known to contain the small hive beetle pest. Additionally, the price of blueberries has plummeted the past two years. So much so, that the U.S government is buying up stocks to fight the price decline. It seems that only at the last minute, some growers have decided to scale back their production this spring. This means that they are not willing to spend much on pollination when the yield requirements are low.
So, simple math for us was that, logistically it wasn’t worth putting our hives are risk, for a negligible amount of revenue.
Not having to drag our hives around the province, has allowed us to strengthen our existing colonies and even expand on some of them. We had the opportunity to do splits, which not only spawns a new colony, but also reduces the chance of swarming.
We were also lucky enough to expand our production with the addition of a new apiary.
Oddly, the strength of the hives this spring has exposed the fact that beekeeping is a learning process. After splitting, we had a few hives reject the replacement queens we introduced. That put me into a bit of a panic, as the spring queens that we order through the NSBA were all spoken-for. Thankfully with the help of some generous benefactors we were able to keep the hives rolling.
It’s still hard to gauge what the spring crop will look like this years, but if the current weather keeps up we will be able to ship out the pre-orders end of June.
In the News
Our NSBA member Joe Goetz of Scotian Bee Honey was interviewed May 20, on how Nova Scotia beekeepers have to be resourceful to deal with dying honey bees. [VIDEO]