Once again I've returned to my professorial life at Mount Mercy, so I've wound up queen sales for 2012. More queens are going out every summer, and I hope that this year's six-legged ladies are serving everyone well. We were very fortunate that the heat did not complicate delivery efforts to any great extent. Hopefully the logistics go well next year too.
While I do enjoy raising queens, I am pleased that my eyes can have a break from this kind of scene--intensely scanning for tiny eggs and the movements of new queens through the mesh of my beloved veil:
On the honey front, the harvest in this area is very nearly complete, and almost all of the hives have had their full regimen of mite treatments using Hopguard and/or Apiguard. I was just counting up the barrels extracted thus far, and it looks like the Cedar Rapids area bees will average over 140 lbs. That is a pretty exceptional year.
My fingers are crossed that the bees will be alive next spring. It should help that most of them will be living on the honey they're gathering this fall. When I went around doubling the hives I ran as singles through the honey season, I found them to be the heaviest September singles I've ever lifted. A few of them actually swarmed because they had lots of bees and were packing in honey. The goldenrod bloom is pretty stunning in some areas.
With the non-existent winter and extremely hot summer, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that September beekeeping is veering from the usual course as well.
I've had a number of people searching for Woodman Extractors arriving at this blog, so I wanted to point out that I still have the 50-frame machine that I picked up last year in a "buy everything to get what you want" situation. As I wrote in last year's blog, I think it's a pretty wonderful machine that doesn't need a huge amount of work. I'm sure I will use it eventually if it stays at my place, but for now I do have it for sale. Here's a link to the Craigslist ad for anyone who is interested.
And here's the reference to my comments from last fall.
In the meanwhile, I am clearing off my hives and getting mite treatments underway. The goldenrod is just coming into bloom, but with the early brooding this year it seems like the best choice to get all the boxes off and get the mites out of the picture. I hope everyone's harvest is going well!
Today I'll highlight a couple of the venues that use Ebert Honey in food products. I tend to have honey in rather powerful doses--those which involve pouring/spreading it onto something where it is easy to see and taste. Other folks have explored ways of making deliciousness that doesn't rely on my simple manner of concocting a sweet treat. In their honor, here are some of the tasty results that have come from the minds of others and involve a touch of Pure Iowa Honey!
Running under the motto of "Crazy Good Beer," Madhouse Brewing has been busy making fine brews from their homebase in Newton for the past couple of years. One of their recipes resulted in the Honey Pilsner, and it incorporates nectar from Ebert bees:
I'm not sure how well granola might go with the pils, but a very tasty granola laced with Iowa honey and a sprinkling of almonds comes from Big Sky Bread Company in Urbandale. Look for it in area grocery stores. I bought a pound of it today when I spotted it in a Cedar Rapids Hy-Vee.
And for dessert, anyone wandering through Pella is likely to make a stop at Jaarsma Bakery when an ordinary sweet just isn't enough. This is a place that has people queuing up into the street when there are events like Tulip Time underway. They also incorporate Ebert Honey into their baked goods. Everything is recommended as delicious!
Those who predicted a drought for 2012 were certainly on the mark. The beans and corn are close to being truly scorched, and most of the grass in the area is parched into remission already. I've been fortunate with the strong bloom in white sweet clover and trefoil that had just enough moisture to provide quite a lot of nectar in my area. The biggest honey flow came after a two-inch rain followed by +90F temperatures.
I've just returned from a faculty development seminar on "Ruin and Revival" in post WWII Germany and Poland, so this required leaving the bees for about two weeks. I try not to be gone for more than ten days in the summertime, but I managed to arrange the hives well enough to have a bit more extended absence. It's true that some hives could have used an additional box of space, but it was pretty satisfying to come home and fill up the truck with honey boxes. Here are 140 boxes that are quite heavy:
The limit for our flatbed is about 130-150 boxes--otherwise the bed gets too close to the tires to feel very safe going over bumps in the road or railroad tracks. On the back of the truck you can see the fume boards that we use to push the bees down from the honey supers, and on the right (just behind the cab) you can barely see the blower machine that we use to evacuate the remainder of the bees that didn't choose to run away from the fumes. The fume boards have worked great in the hot sunny weather.
My yields have varied somewhat. A few yards have averaged 150 lbs, and then I've got a couple of smaller yards that are late splits and produced half that amount of honey. This was a year when the big honey came before some splits were at full force. Other splits that did not have any queen issues were able to produce as much as the doubles.
Still, it's good to get some kind of crop off all the hives in any year, so I don't have anything to complain about. My understanding is that a lot of Iowa has not had the kind of honey production that has occurred around the Cedar Rapids area. There is still some time, and I can see some honey coming in--but it has definitely slowed down from what happened during the past month. We will see if it will keep coming during the next two or three weeks. Then it will be mite-treatment season once again......
As for the traveling, I don't have much to share that is remotely related to bees or agriculture. So, I shall randomly choose a wall theme. Here is the pleasant experience of Krakow's medieval wall--now providing a comfortable shadow for your outdoor dining experience:
And here is part of the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall, showing a much more hopeful depiction than once existed in that place:
Good news, there is a very strong honey flow in progress here around Cedar Rapids. The overwintered colonies have put up anywhere from 1-3 supers of honey and they're drawing some foundation as well. Some of the splits I'm running as singles have a box of honey too, but the ones that I gave a second deep box of foundation for their brood chamber are just finishing drawing it out. So we need another few weeks of honey coming in to make sure that we actually get a decent crop from all the hives. Things are very promising however. The forecast is calling for temperatures in the +95F area. Perfect for bees as long as there isn't a massive thunderstorm that cuts off the flow (though the row crops desperately need a few inches of precipitation). Yellow sweet clover is just finishing up, but the trefoil and white sweet clover are in full bloom right now. A big crop is much more likely if we have honey come in during both June and July--so having something put up in June is extremely encouraging.
I first got a hint that things were very good when I returned from the Agricultural History Society's conference in Manhattan (Kansas) and checked in at Bass Farms. Several hives had two boxes stored. I moved another ten hives to that location two nights ago, so now there are 24 hives lining the ridge across from Palisades State Park. I'll have to remember to take a picture and share it the next time I go.
For now, there will be a few more hives working to produce the honey on the shelves out at Bass Farms. Their irrigation system also has their produce looking great in an extremely dry year.