Yard Report – July 2012

The Idea

Looking good.

July happenings:

  • the bees occupy 14 frames
  • the plastic small cell frames are readily accepted and consistently drawn
  • kept this yard out of the agriculture areas
  • drought continues
  • skunk pests
  • bees in town, the joy of it

The Details

The Bees

The bees occupy 14 frames. They are:

  • healthy
  • very gentle
  • making a living
  • and are a joy to work

Wildfire smoke has been a constant this month. Some days it’s so thick it’s hard to breath. When the smoke is bad, hive activity continues. But foraging is reduced.

Plastic Frames

The Mann Lake PF-100s readily accepted and consistently drawn out. In a natural comb broodnest, 15% of it will be drone comb. Not so with the plastic. Less than 3% of it is drone comb.

Is that good or bad? I don’t know. Plastic frames are not my favorite choice.

Want to try small cell beekeeping? Forget the beeswax foundation and use Mann Lakes PF-100s. They will save you much time and money.

Moving

One hot beekeeper in a dry and thirsty land. The smell of a smoker will be enough for these gentle bees.

I’ve always moved my bees into the agricultural areas to work the alfalfa. But this year I’ve kept them near town. The agricultural areas aren’t what they once were. And with the drought, it’s worse than ever. There’s:

  • more pesticide spraying
  • less alfalfa

And I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The bees are working yellow sweet clover, Russian sage, Dutch clover and a variety of garden plants and landscape flowers.

They haven’t experienced the major flows associated with the alfalfa fields. But they haven’t experienced the major dearths either.

Drought

The drought continues and has intensified. Fire danger is extreme. And using a lit smoker is just too dangerous.

Pests

Skunk and raccoon deterrent.

It’s this time of year, when the prairie dries up, that all life concentrates into areas with water. And that’s true with my bees and their pests.

Skunks and racoons are working my hives. They come at night. And they’ll paw at a hive entrance eating the bees as they defend the hive.

In the past, I’ve dispatched them. But I’m trying a new, natural approach.

There’s lots of cactus around. And every desert animal learns to leave it alone. So, I’ve transplanted some in front of the hives.

It has worked in the short-term. But I’ve learned that these animals are resourceful. Time will tell if it’s a good solution.

The Joy

My son Isaac.

The bees are back in town.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to spot any. Lately I can see them just about anywhere. And that’s great.

And a few wild bees and bumblebees are around now. There aren’t as many species or in near the same numbers as before. But things are on the rebound. And that’s cause for real joy.

And some more joy. My son Isaac stopped by.

He:

  • has been around bees all his life
  • worked for a commercial beekeeper as a kid
  • and isn’t even remotely sentimental about them

His last beeyard visit was a different experience. And I think he worries about his old dad lifting those hives. So he went to the beeyard with me.

Unlike that last visit, this one was full of life and hope. I appreciate his concern, his companionship and the photos he took. Thanks son.

-bW

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