A Brief March Update

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I thought I’d spend 30 minutes putting together a brief update on the Bee Farm apiary, nuc sales (local) in April/May, and some thoughts about the upcoming beekeeping season.

An Apiary Update

As I sit down to write, my bees are doing okay, all things considered. Out of 38 colonies prepped for winter back in October, there are still 32 alive as of this week. This is a decent loss rate although one can only count their chickens after March or so here in NE Ohio. I find that the very moist climate and big temp swings in late winter and early spring do some damage, no matter how hard I try. I will keep trying however (always something to learn) and look at continuing to improve airflow, moisture absorption, insulation, and other tweaks this upcoming winter.

I have sold 22 reservations for overwintered nucs at this point but am waiting to sell any more as I like taking a conservative approach, waiting till April 1 to know exactly how many I have. At that point, remaining colonies should be on the increase and I’ll have a definite count of how many I can sell. If you are interested, be on the lookout April 1 for a blog update and link to purchase a reservation.

Thoughts about the OTS Facebook group

Due to some medical issues some months back and the stress involved, I haven’t been spending much time in the OTS Facebook group. By God’s grace, things are on the mend, feeling great and those of you active in the group should see me around more in the coming weeks. I’d like to thank several folks who have been kind enough to help moderate for some months now and they’ve done a great job! A heartfelt thank you to Heather, Brad, RW, Stan, Jodi, Richard, Jack, and John.

For those new to this site or OTS, the Facebook page is a good place to get helpful and kind advice about beekeeping using OTS or a mixture of OTS beekeeping principles.

An idea about a video teaching series this year

I’m still seriously considering creating a video series for new beekeepers and the OTS system how I use it, hosted over at Udemy. I might charge something small to help with income and building up the apiary. If that interests you, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I’m feeling a little frisky and am thinking about titling the course, “Never Buy Bees Again!”. Whadya think? :)

Thoughts about the 2019 bee season

I always carry a small moleskin notepad (and the phone of course) so that I can jot down a note or data that I want to memorize (I use the “memory palace” system) or do something about later. Here’s a small sample of my notes compiled over the past winter months that I’m considering for this year’s tweaks and improvements to my yard and processes:

  1. Testing single brood chambers and queen excluders (never tried)

  2. Limit my colonies to 40 (to keep things enjoyable)

  3. Not selling summer nucs any longer (ditto)

  4. Continue with one shot of Oxalic vapor on day 21 after brood breaks if I don’t like varroa numbers

  5. Continue to hold extra queens on a frame of honey in small nucs for backups to failed matings

  6. Looking at different methods for battling small hive beetle which seem to be expanding more here in Northern Ohio

  7. Continue using just poured dry sugar into coffee filters, rather than making sugar bricks (much easier and effective)

  8. Build sugar rims that are a bit taller (maybe 3”)

  9. Replace my pallets which are starting to rot

  10. Focus on producing honey more this year and maybe buy a decent extractor for the first time

Swarm season

Swarm season is just around the corner in the Northeast (and already underway further south) and I’m starting to see more questions from new(er) beekeepers about how to determine swarm dates. Here are my thoughts from last year.

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Thank you for reading and blessings on your bee season. Drop me or the OTS crew a note if you have questions as we like to help.

~John Schwartz