Another Year

It’s been a while since I refreshed this page but rest assured I’m still very actively beekeeping and selling honey at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

Similar to many farms in the area, the weather was a challenge for us here at Beanstalk Honey this year. April was very cold and then in May we went straight into a hot summer. Overall, it was an exceedingly hot and dry summer, with less than two inches of precipitation from May to September in my main beeyards and on our alfalfa fields. However, I’ve heard many areas received more moisture and in those areas the bees did quite well this season.

It is interesting having bees: they are a window into the effects of climate on plants. Hot, dry weather prompted the plants to all bloom earlier and intensively this year. Instead of groups of plant species blooming successively throughout the season, thereby providing bees with nectar and pollen all summer, many of the species bloomed together and earlier. This meant the build-up of the bee population coming out of winter was out of sync with the main nectar flow. This year, my bees reached peak population just at the end of the main nectar flow, which ended several weeks earlier than usual. This pattern has resulted in greatly reduced honey yields for the beekeeper (me, unfortunately).

The flip side of early, compressed nectar and pollen flows is we’ve experienced a nectar and pollen dearth for the bees in the last two Augusts, as have many other beekeepers right across Canada. We are learning to adapt our beekeeping management to address the shifting and compression of pollen and nectar flow dates; unfortunately a lot of the adaptation relies on supplementing the bee’s natural diet with human-made pollen and nectar replacements. I have a few ideas to try next year; I’ll let you know how they go!

Thanks for checking in!

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