Tag Archives: Pollen

Winter Pollen

The flowers still aren’t in bloom but my bees are flying. And they are trucking in little loads of yellow pollen like they are leaving on a long trip to Europe. Their bags are stuffed. So I’ve been wondering, what are they eating? It is just barely February after all and I know we’ve had a mild Winter, but seriously!?

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This sillouette of twigs are attached a tree, a very important bee-tree for early eating. Anyone guess what it is?

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If you said, Maple, you are CORRECT!

(and you win nothing… sorry)

Now, I meant to do more with these maple trees than just let my bees feed off them. I meant to tap these babies in the Winter. But I missed the syrup train. I bought a little maple tapping kit from the people I get my bee stuff from (Bees ‘n Glass) because they have quite the sweet tooth. But I thought I still had time to tap in January. Apparently the sap was not flowing in January. It was flowing when we had that freeze in early December. So next year I’ll be more organized…

Big Leaf Maple tapping is a little different than tapping Sugar Maples back East. Sugar Maples are tapped in February or March. And their concentration of sugar in the sap is quite a lot higher. Big Leaf Maples have to bleed 44 litres of sap to produce 1 litre of syrup. When you start thinking about the legistics of this, it becomes clear that you cannot boil off the water in the sap to make syrup in your house. I do not want 43 litres of water humidifying my house! It became clear to me that we would have to do the evaporation process outside and over a long period of time. That was the part that I did not get as organized and it stalled me this year. But next year, I have high hopes.

I mean, what else is Winter for when you’re not beekeeping?

Apparently Big Leaf Maple syrup is like the stout of syrups. It’s quite a bit darker and stronger. But this is all hear-say. I haven’t tried any yet. Have you?

This weekend is the Big Leaf Maple Syrup festival in Duncan, BC. It is put on by the Vancouver Island Sapsuckers. (I know, the name makes me laugh too.) If you get a chance and are in the area, I recommend checking it out. It’s bound to be sweet. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)

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Birds and the Bees

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The geese have been busy at the farm. They have been squawking and carrying on by the pond everytime we drive up. They are sullen when they have to move off the path for our car to drive, they bully us when we check on the sheep in the upper pond. But they have been busy. Marc spotted them today with their baby goslings between them.

I hardly know these geese and I’m celebrating for them. And oh my, aren’t they adorable! We’re hoping to get kittens when we move in, and perhaps ducks, and really, I’m all about the baby stage! Though it’s hard to say that when I’m still ga-ga over my bees. Perhaps I should curb my enthusiasm a little.

hmmm… nope. Not gonna.

Though I met someone today who should have curbed her enthusiasm a little too. She planted a market garden, with her family in mind and she said today that she was transplanting tomatoes. I asked how many she had because she was complaining that it was taking forever. This was her response:

“Well, I’ve got about 20 varieties and maybe 12 plants each variety.”

240 tomatoe plants?!?!?!? Wowee! And I thought my 24 were an over-kill.

Anyway, to complete this post, here are the bees. They look like little cheezies right now because they are collecting pollen off the blooming broom bushes.

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Go bees Go!

Bee Fever

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I was talking to a beekeeper in Victoria who I am getting bees from. She says the bees are a month behind because Winter nosed it’s way into Spring and it was much colder longer than it should have been. Someone should send a memo to the Big Guy to put the seasons in their place!

But she also said that there is such a demand for honeybees this year that it’s overwhelming. There were a couple guys in Campbell River that made 200 nucs (small hives for sale) and they charged $125 each, and they were sold out in a matter of hours. I’m so impressed with this news! There are people reacting positively to all the media excitement on the collapse of the honeybee. It renews my hope in people and their ability to take a tough situation and offer a positive reaction! Yay people!

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When I first started broaching the subject of beekeeping with friends and family, their first reaction was a curious encouragement. But always there is a fear of these bugs crawling all over you. For anyone interested in keeping bees, beekeepers are some of the most enthusiastic hobbyists I’ve found. They are more than willing to share all the information they know, and some they’ve read. I find this openness exciting.

Honeybees. Did you know that from their hive, you can use everything they produce. Honey, not only for consumption but for treating cuts as it has anti-bacterial properties, and for sore throats to soothe. Pollen gives people a much-needed protein boost. It also can stave off allergies. Propolis, which is tree sap that the bees collect to glue their hive together, can be collected and used as an anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal remedy for sore throats or wounds. Bee venom is currently being researched to relieve arthritic and MS pain.

The demand for local honey, wax candles, beauty products and pollen suppliments far outweighs the production at this point. Especially on Pender. But I’m working my darndest to provide to these demands. My biggest hurdle is gathering funds to buy equipment and bees, to be honest. I’ve been told that it pays back but the initial start is the expensive bit

Any business people out there that know how I can start a fund project where people can provide funds so that I can keep bees? I was thinking some kind of “shares” program where people can own shares in a bee hive and then they get a portion of the honey the hive produces. The enthusiasm and manual labour isn’t a problem for me. Do you think people would go for it?

I’ll put that out there. Hopefully people will come up with good ideas to make this come true. After all, it was Einstein who said “If the bees disappeared off the face of the globe, man would only have 4 years left to live.”

Flurry of Saturday and Sunday Flurries

 

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First I had to deal with my sprouts. The quinoa, like last time, sprouted red and green stems and had a peculiar odour which I would normally associate with socks. This is the “healthy” smell that I described before when I made Quinoa and Honey Bread. Theresa and her dad came over because they wanted to watch me feed the bees. I fed them pollen patties that arrived in the mail this week and some medicated sugar syrup. I am medicating my bees for American Foulbrood and Nosema. These are two out of about 4 causes for the recent drop in honeybees.

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After this, we went to Theresa’s and made fresh pasta to have with our spaghetti.

p3140021Then we built beehives.

p3140022p3140023p3140024But today it’s snowing. I had big plans for the garden. I wanted to do some weeding at Clam Bay. Big plans! I think Winter is haunting me. And taunting me.

I’m not impressed.

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Cheerleader for Bees

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I’m not so much a keeper of bees. Moreso I would say that I’m a cheerleader of bees. Today my bees are flying. They are bringing in pink pollen to feed to the brood which means Hallelujah, the Queen is laying! This particular bee that Marc captured on film this afternoon was at Clam Bay Farms. They have crocuses, snow drops, and hazlenut trees that the bees can gather pollen from. This little bee, Miss Shee, was not only packing pollen away in her leg sacks (not a technical term) but she was also gathering nectar. GO Miss Shee Bee!!

p3020022Today was my last day off of the first weekend in March. What a glorious day it was. The temperatures peaked at 11C, which is plenty warm enough to have the bees flying. We went for a walk down on Medicine Beach. It was gorgeous. There are lots of arbutus trees at Medicine Beach Park. They will be giving out pollen by the end of the month on lovely Pender Island.

We spent the afternoon building bee hives. This is a common occurence here on Mondays. I have 27 supers (boxes) with 10 frames a box. That makes for a lot of sanding, a lot of gluing, nailing, staining, oh and did I mention Sanding! That is my job. I have an orbital sander that I prop up on the work bench to achieve maximum success with as little effort as possible.

p3020017Marc stands behind me, assembling, gluing, and nailing. We started with 270 to complete and I think we’re halfway. I hope the bees appreciate the effort.

If the weather keeps up, I’m hoping to feed my bees next weekend. I have to medicate them with their Spring dosage. They must be medicated for mites, for American Foulbrood and for Nosema. These are the three biggest killers of our dwindling honey bee population. The first is a pest, the second is a spore and the third is a parasite.

I’m also waiting for my pollen patties to arrive in the mail. This pollen is mixed with lard and icing sugar and formed into a hamburger-like pattie. It will help the bees build up to be big and strong so I can split their one hive into two by late Spring. The bees need pollen to make feed to their babies. Pollen is a complete protein for the bees, containing 21 amino acids. If the bees don’t have to go as far to gather the pollen, they can spend their energy gathering nectar which means honey, which means honey for me! (and them of course.)

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Me and My Beesuit

Bees feeding on Sugar Water

Bees feeding on Sugar Water