Winter Holiday

I’m taking a few Saturdays off from the markets so you might be having a hard time finding me right now. I’ll be back at the markets in Mid-May, when my main market, the Downtown/City Market on 104 St and Jasper Ave, goes back outside.

In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you need honey before then. We can easily arrange for you to come by and pick some up from a house near the U of A.

Beanstalk Honey at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market

Hi ‘Stalkers,

I wanted to let everyone know I’ll be at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market for the next few Saturdays. I’m near the back, on the way to the concession, beside the ATMs. Come find me! I grew up going to this market. I remember being so short I could barely see over the table tops. My mother would give me money to buy a maple sugar candy every week while she did her shopping. Those were probably the first purchases I ever made. It’s very exciting to become one of the vendors there.

The beekeeping season went very well and the bees were strong going into the winter. I’m looking forward to another year of beekeeping already. Thanks to everyone who has supported me through this year. Happy New Year!

Mid-winter Update

I hope everyone is having a great 2014 so far! The bees are looking good right now; I think they’re all still alive at the moment but it’s too early in the winter to really say much.

I’m not at the markets right now but that doesn’t mean I’m not working! I’m currently developing some new honey products. I’m also making progress on improving my honey extracting building so you can access my honey in stores as well as farmers markets.

And Beanstalk Honey might have a new look for the new honey season! I want you to be able to tell the differences between all my types of honey more quickly and easily so I’m working on developing new labels & signs. I might even finally get a logo, which is something I’ve been reluctant to do until now.

Stay warm & I hope you have enough honey to last the next few months! If you don’t, email me and we can try to work something out.

Quick Update

Hey Folks-

I have a few quick updates:

– Please note my phone number has changed on the contact page.

-I am not currently selling honey at the French Quarter Market, however, I will be back there on Sunday, Dec 1.

-I am taking a break from all the markets for at least January and February. Either stock up before Christmas or contact me directly if you need more honey and I’m not at the markets.

-I have a brand new Spicy Honey I invite you all to try! Come see me at the Downtown Market in City Hall or Salisbury Market in Sherwood Park!

That’s all! The bees are wrapped up and warm for the winter. They looked really good going into winter so fingers crossed they come out looking okay too. In the meantime, I’m cross-country skiing!

-Tracey

Hello Spring?

I’m sure most of you have noticed, but we have a lot of snow still! It’s still knee deep out in the beeyard. Not only that, but the weather hasn’t warmed up enough for the bees to fly. The willows have been out for a week now, but the weather hasn’t been warm enough for the bees to be collecting the willow pollen yet. We try to do our beekeeping with as few inputs as possible, in other words, we don’t usually supplement our bees with pollen replacements and sugar syrup. However, the winter has been so long and the weather is looking so drab for the next while that I’m seriously considering it.

This time of year it’s really easy to lose hives. Individual bees raised in the fall have been alive all winter, and that’s a long time for an individual bee to live (winter bees tend to live around  seven months; summer bees live for only a few weeks). Starting around now, the winter bees need to be raising lots of young ones to replace themselves. To do that they need pollen, which is what the larva are fed. Hopefully they packed enough away in the fall, and hopefully events coincide in the spring so they are able to fly out and collect willow pollen. A lot of beekeepers feed pollen substitutes around now to help them raise brood, but the best pollen they can get is the fresh stuff off the willow bushes. So that’s why the weather needs to be nice! If they don’t have pollen, they can’t raise much brood. Without raising enough brood right now, the hive can dwindle away as all the bees that hatched in the fall die of old age.

In addition, to stay alive bees need to eat honey or sugar syrup. We feed them lots of sugar syrup in the fall and that needs to last them all winter and into the spring, until a new nectar flow starts. (We feed them sugar syrup because sometimes bees don’t overwinter very well on honey- it can mess with their digestive tracts, and during long periods of confinement during our cold winters, we don’t want them having digestive tract issues. Most beekeepers feed sugar syrup because bees can digest it with fewer waste products so they don’t need to defecate as often.) A hive in the fall that’s full of sugar syrup can weigh around 120lbs or more. That’s how much food a hive will go through over the course of the winter and if they run out the bees simply starve to death. By this time of year, regardless of how much we fed them in the fall, they’re starting to get low. I have my fingers crossed my bees have enough food to get them through until the weather warms up.

Which brings me to why it’s so important that we be breeding our own bees. Bees that are well adapted to our climate tend to overwinter in smaller clusters and then build up their population very quickly in the spring. This means that in long winters such as this one, they have a better chance of making it because there haven’t been as many bees to feed all winter long. They are less likely to have run out of food by now because their population was smaller all winter. The best way to get locally adapted bee stock is to raise your own queens for a few years. Breed from the hives that have made it through the winter and over time you’ll naturally end up with bees that do well surviving our winters.

I’ll keep you posted on how my hives do!