Bees in B.C.

Guest post by Andrew Burkinshaw. (Andrew and Colleen and their four children are still in Chilliwack, BC, but are planning to move here, to their cottage on the north side of the farm, in May.)

Back in BC the beekeeping season is starting.  Hazelnuts, silver maple and pussy willow are in bloom and when it stops raining and the sun shines, the bees go to work.  So far we have had a great winter for overwintering the hives.  Losses have been minimal and they are building up nicely for sale and honey making.  This is good because this business needs to springboard us into our Ontario lives.

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This is our home beeyard. About 80 hives here and a great place to work so close to home.
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This is a plywood box I made that houses 5 small colonies. It was an experiment this year but I think I am sold on the idea. Cheap and quick to make and the bees are doing great in it. The downside is that it looks like a coffin and weighs too much to carry on our own.

 

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See caption on photo below

 

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Feeding starving bees! Sometimes they run out of their own honey and need a little help. This is a layer of newspaper with some lemon juice and 5 lbs of sugar and a bunch of bees. They will finish it off in a week or so.

    

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This colony is still in its winter cluster (heat conservation mode). I found this colony in the fall upside down in the rain with no cover on it. A bear had found this bee yard and went to work on it. Lots of dead bees and not much I could do besides tip it right side up and put the lid back on. It survived and is looking good! Colleen (who is great sewer) has been commissioned by me to make all the bees in this colony little t-shirts that say “I survived a bear attack” or something like that.

 

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Bees bringing in spring pollen

 

 

4 Responses

  1. jenny goshulak

    Loved the guest post,,so amazing!

  2. Grant Penner

    Great post! Could you elaborate on the process/ratio of your newspaper with lemon juice and sugar? Is this similar to feeding sugar water?

    • Sugar water can be tough for the bees to deal with in winter so I feed dry sugar until about March. The process: first I add a 2 inch spacer (short box with no bottom) and smoke the bees down. Then I lay a single sheet of newspaper on top of the top bars of the frames and spray about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and then add the sugar on top. The bees come up and chew through the newspaper and have direct access from the winter cluster to the sugar. Now that it is warmer in BC I have started using a large Ziploc bag filled with syrup. A slit in the top of it allows them to feed on the syrup and the surface tension keeps it in. The syrup is warmed by the cluster which is directly under it.

  3. Grant Penner

    Thanks for the great explanation. I’ve ordered my first package of bees so trying to read/learn as much as possible before they arrive.

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