Yard Report – July Year 1

Looking good.

The Bees

The bees occupy 14 frames. They are:

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

Wildfire smoke was a constant factor this month. Some days it’s so thick, it’s hard to breath. When the smoke is bad, the bees reduce foraging.

Plastic Frames

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

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

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

Moving

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

Rather then move the bees near alfalfa, 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

I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The bees are working Yellow Sweet Clover, Russian Sage, Dutch Clover and a variety of landscape flowers.

There’s no major flows. But there aren’t any 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 raccoons 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 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 these animals are resourceful.

The Joy

My son Isaac.

The bees are back in town. I’ve seen them foraging in significant numbers. And that’s great.

A few wild bees and bumblebees are around too. 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 joy.

And some more joy. My son Isaac stopped by.

He:

  • was 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. Yet, he worries about his old dad lifting those hives. So he came along.

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