The Bee Blog – May 2009

It’s hard to believe, but here we are again with another season at the Farmer’s Market. Didn’t we just leave this place?

It’s been a long hard winter for the bees with some losses, but not as severe as last year for us.

Did you know…

  • The average winter losses for the province are just under 25%.
  • In comparison, 2007/2008 losses were estimated at 18% and at 17% for the previous season.
  • The United States is reporting losses in the 35% plus range.

These numbers will change somewhat as the season progresses and we will see more losses, pushing the provincial average over the 25% figure. Pretty scary, huh?

It was surprising how light some of our hives were in weight. Those that didn’t starve were almost without winter stores. I’ve never seen the hives so light and yet they were treated the same as any other year. So far we’ve fed the bees a heavy sugar syrup once a week for the last 4 weeks and each hive has received a 1 ½ lb. pollen patty (15% natural pollen). All this will provide enough food and pollen for brood rearing until such time as the natural pollen and nectar becomes available.

You might be wondering what causes winter losses – especially with all the talk that is going on in the news about bees. Well, winter losses in Nova Scotia have been attributed to: Queen failure (old queen), starvation, Nosema Ceranae (a type of spore), a long cold winter with few cleansing days, poor Fall weather for feeding, or a combination of previously mentioned.

Some of you may remember that we began heating our equipment in a heating closet to try and kill off those Nosema spores. We have no scientific proof that it worked, but almost all of our hives are so clean you’d think they were on brand new frames. This has been very encouraging and something we will continue to do. You will also notice an increase in the price of some of our honey this year. We’ve tried to keep our prices down but with all the issues with bees, the losses worldwide and drought in the major honey producing countries, especially Argentina, there is currently a shortage of honey. Sadly, we here in Canada are not immune to this. Hopefully this coming year there will be a bumper crop! After all we are farmers – always optimistic!!

Thanks again, as always, for your support. Without you, I wouldn’t be where I am.