1 Comment

Poor Harvest

Yesterday I extracted from my hives, and Dad brought around his honey to extract also. Having had everything set up well, and a nice warm shed to encourage honey flow, made the event very easy, and it was all over too quickly. Actually, the season has been very poor, and so the harvest was far too small. I extracted from 3 boxes of mine, and one of Dads, for a total yield of 27 Kg. (7 from Dads, 20 from mine). When I add it all up, including the December extract, we obtained:

  • Apple Hive:  25 Kg
  • Olive Hive: 15 Kg
  • Dad’s Hive: 44 Kg

This gives a total of 84 Kg, compared to 176 Kg last year. So, what was the cause? I have a feeling that there are two aspects to this –

The first is timing, in that we both missed the opportunity when the nectar was flowing remarkably well in the late spring, and our boxes were full. I think about 1 Kg per day was getting added, perhaps more, and with the pressures of work meaning that I was not getting home until dark on most evenings, meant that I could not capitalise on the flow.

The other aspect, the biggest one, is the climate. We have had a summer of drought, followed by a wet autumn. There just was not the flowers available for the bees to forage from. The wheat and barley farmers down the road have had a ripper of a season, but it has just been too dry for the bees. Dad’s hive has done better due to the urban gardens being better watered.

I also found that Apple hive had a very large varroa burden, to the point that I was suspecting American Foul Brood  (AFB, a hideous disease that, in New Zealand, we are trying to eradicate – the only permissible treatment is to dig a hole, put the the hive in it, cover in petrol, and woomph). When a small twig is jabbed into a dead brood that has AFB, it comes out ‘ropey’, and the dried proboscis is often visible. With mine, the dead brood just went squish, and a bunch of mites would run out of the cell. After a very thorough look, I have no AFB thank goodness, but the hive is, under the surface, weakened. I have put strips into the hives, this time I have used ‘Apivar’, to give Bayverol a rest and help prevent resistance. I just hope we have a few more weeks of good weather for enough healthy brood to be laid down before winter, otherwise that hive could be in real trouble. I just waited a couple of weeks too long, in the hope that there would be an Autumn flush of nectar. It makes me feel sad. To be empirical about it, I would have to say that there was no new honey laid down from the beginning of February. I think I should have had mite treatments in by the end of the first week of March.

I will have to feed them this winter, no doubt about it. Still, I aim to do splits in the spring if my hives are doing OK, and have enough woodwork for a couple more hives quite happily.

Even though the tone of this post is somewhat introspective and negative, I still have to say that a jar of honey collected straight from the extractor, with bits of wax in it, tastes absolutely magical. It is a darker honey this time, rich and golden, and very elegant to the palette. I am grateful for the bounty provided to me by my little apis mellifera minions, and solemnly swear to be the best beekeeper I can be to them, in return. Any stings I shall receive are to be attributed to my own fault, and not held against them.

2016-03-29 09.52.19.jpg

A fine jar of fresh honey, overlooking part of the olive grove. the hay bale visible is the target stand for D’s new bow, (happy birthday buddy), and the little blocks to the left say ‘Life is not measured by the breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away.’

One comment on “Poor Harvest

  1. Hopefully the Apivar will knock the mites back. You may want to consider winter treatment with oxalic acid so that your girls are in great shape for next spring.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Life by the Word

Words to inspire and bring new hope through Jesus. Musings, photography, the odd recipe...sharing the journey of life!

stillness of heart

MUSINGS : CRITICISM : HISTORY : PASSION

Deep Green Permaculture

Connecting People to Nature, Empowering People to Live Sustainably

Larry & Stephanie Holden

Politics, Ham Radio, Prepping, Homesteading and the Bible

Want Some Honey

Beekeeping with the bees best interest in mind

The Tiny Homesteaders

Reconnecting with agriculture on a domestic level.

The Mountain Mystery

Just 50 years ago, no one knew why the Earth has mountains. Now we do. This is the story of how we figured it out - and how we keep learning.

honeybeeswax

Gently recording the amazing life of honeybees as I experience it.

Beauties Go Bald

Follow us as we share our journey to shaving our heads for CanTeen

The Beekeeping Journey

My Adventure with Bees

Boorinakis Harper Ranch

musings on local produce, family farming, sustainability, and other goings on about the ranch

Mrs Apis Mellifera

adventures of an aromatherapy beekeeper

Romancing the Bee

Beautiful Beekeeping, English Cottage Gardening, and Cooking with Honey

White House Honeybee Farm

Pure and unfiltered from flowers of the foothills

Beeginning

A Journey into the world of Beekeeping

%d bloggers like this: