Maybe you’ve noticed I’m not in my usual spot at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market. In November, I decided it was time for a change. I sold honey at up to four farmer’s market a week for ten years! That’s a lot of time spent standing at market stalls and a lot of time spent jarring honey in my honey house. I was ready for a change. Maybe you’ll see me selling honey again someday and I’ll post here if I do, but for the moment I’m pursuing my love of honey bees by conducting research at the University of Alberta. I’ll post more about my exciting new line of research soon!
But back at the farm here, I do have 30 heritage Chantecler hens laying eggs like nobody’s business right now. If you’re interested in purchasing some eggs ($4/dz), please shoot me an email. I also have goats and sheep now. I’ll be a first time lamb-mom soon and in the future I hope to start selling sheep meat and wool products. I’m planning a big garden this summer as well so I’ll probably have some vegetables available for purchase. My farming days aren’t done, they’re just shifting, and I hope some of you make the transition with me.
Thanks for looking!
Way, way back in July, I decided to start developing curriculum for some online courses. It sounded like such a simple idea. I created a new arm of Beanstalk Honey called Beanstalk Bees. I figured I’d have my first course out by December.
Eight months later, I’ve built a website, I’ve bought a camera, a mic, another camera, another mic, and better camera lenses. Finally, I’ve bought a new computer, one that is capable of video editing at a faster rate than glaciers move (which is how fast my Macbook Air could open and edit videos). I’ve tried about two dozen different applications in various combinations. I’m sure anyone who has tried to do something similar knows just what that process looks like. Let’s just say getting to this point has taken a bit of commitment!
And now, I’m happy to say some of my courses are ready for you. The “Selling Honey in Alberta” mini-course is the first offering. “Wintering Bees in Cold Climates” is finished now too. I’m still working on the “Getting Started in Bees” so we’ll see what happens there.
The website is obviously new, so let me know if anything is weird or confusing, please. There’s a lot going on on that website.
As always, please feel free to email me at, in this case, beanstalkbees at gmail.com with course suggestions, questions, or anything else.
I’d like to thank everyone for taking the time to purchase honey from Beanstalk Honey over the last six months. I know it’s not as easy as it used to be.
I’m getting more and more emailed requests to pick up honey outside the market so I’ve built an online store! I’m hoping this will make the ordering and payment process a little more streamlined for all of us.
I currently have two pick-up locations: the usual house near the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.
I may add locations in Sherwood Park, Calgary, and Banff. If you would like to see honey available for pick up in any of these places, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go Here to Make Your Purchases Today!
I’ve had a few phone calls asking if the market is still open. Yes! At this time, the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market is open. You can still come down and get your honey. However, if you don’t want to go to the farmer’s market, email me and we can work out a different way for you to pick-up honey.
And an update about the bees: they’re just waiting for that first alder, willow and aspen pollen of the year! I can practically see them getting excited about bursting out of the hives and collecting some fresh food. It looks like spring is just around the corner!
I’ve had a few people ask if I’ll be at the Downtown Market this summer. Sadly, I decided not to attend this year. Instead, you can find me the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market every weekend year round.
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!
I’ll have a stall at Edmonton’s Seedy Sunday on March 18th. I’ll be selling my usual varietal honey and I’ll also have some beeswax. I’m looking forward to getting some seed for my garden this spring! Go to http://www.edmontonseedysunday.org to get the details.
Apparently it’s not spring yet… we woke up this morning to another few inches of snow. This is in addition to last week, when we got around 7 inches. Yes, the date is April 24th! The bees are just waiting to get out there and snag the aspen and willow pollen. I thought I’d post a few rare photos!
April 19th! I’ve never skiied to a beeyard this late in the year before!
There’s a myth bees get disoriented in the snow, mistaking it for the sky and crashing and freezing. Despite the snow, there’s a pretty good pollen and nectar flow going on and on Thursday, April 20, these bees were working hard bringing it in. It’s not often we get warm weather with solid snow cover to test this myth but I hope these photos demonstrate it is a myth. Bees can navigate just fine with snow. They do flip upside down and crash when they’re within an inch of the surface, but then they flip back upright and fly away. If they stay above that height they’re fine.
Close up of a coupe hives flying hard in 8 or 10 degrees C with almost solid snow cover.
A nuc from June 2016 I experimentally “neglected” all summer 2016 and winter 2016-2017: they have a full open entrance on both the front and back bottom of the hive, a crack running along the back between the two brood chambers (seen in photo), and no top entrance. I didn’t take honey off them over the summer, didn’t feed them in the fall, and didn’t medicated them. I watched them pretty closely all winter and was ready to give them help if they needed it, but here they are, bringing in pollen with solid snow cover.
The bees started bringing in pollen this week. I bought a microscope last fall and I’ve been learning how to identify pollen using it. I have confirmed the first fresh pollen of this year is alder pollen. Alder pollen is very distinctive under the microscope: while most pollen is round or oblong, alder pollen is square or pentagonal. I’m glad I’ve finally found a unique and easy pollen to identify! A lot of pollen looks almost the same to this newbie beginner pollen-IDer.
The bees look great again this year. To date I’ve had 5% winter losses, which is the same as what I had last year. I haven’t treated with fumagillin in two years now, with the exception of a small handful of sick hives last spring. I haven’t used apivar in over a year. Combined with the lack of intensive agriculture in my neck of the woods, I’m tempted to apply for organic certification now. I’m not sure if I will but I’ll make sure you hear about it if I do!
I continue to have my honey for sale at the Old Strathcona Market. My stall is still along the west wall. I’ll be back outside at the City Market Downtown in May.
Heads up: Beanstalk Honey is in a new location this month at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market.
We’ll now be on the west wall between Happy Camel and Little Jack Horner Meat Pies. This weekend we’ll have fresh pollen, comb honey, and the last fresh honey of the season. We’ll be at the Downtown Market this weekend and next and then we’ll just be at the Old Strathcona Market. We decided not to go into City Hall this year, although it’s a great market in there.