The (Varroa) Season Has Begun.

Buckle up kiddoes, this is a long one! Yesterday, March 6th, was so warm and sunny I was able to open the hives and grade the overwintered colonies. I never feel the season has really started until I can inspect the colonies, grade them, and renumber the hives to reflect hive strength coming out of…

Nearly There

The winter has flown by: first spring inspections are nearly here… Right off the top, this winter saw the bees hand in one of their best-ever overwintering performances. We had an unusually mild winter, to be sure, but there were two or three cold snaps, cold enough to kill the bees. And rain. Lots and…

Darwinian Beekeeping. Is. Not. Darwinian.

I was the kind of kid who holed up under the bunkbed on sunny summer afternoons, lost in a book. Books took me far beyond the pleasant bounds of my small town, and in their pages I took inspirational journeys across time and space. One of my favourite trips, one I took again and again,…

Caveat Emptor: Packages or Nucs??

In bee chat boards and Facebook pages across the country, the quest for colonies for 2020 has begun….anyone who has been hoping to get into beekeeping is looking around for a bee supplier. What is often missing is an elucidation of terms. Traditionally, a package is a box of bees with an unrelated but mated…

Start Your Engines…

As welcome as the snowdrops now blooming here in the Pacific Northwest is the start of the new beekeeping season! Time to implement all those plans you made in the winter months, and scrub away any disappointments you had in 2019… February is the month when beekeepers start to check in with each other on…

Wax or Plastic?

As a new beekeeper I was very conscious of the fact I had none of that “beekeeper’s gold” in reserve: frames of drawn comb. And with a hive that was growing like Topsy, and which needed to be split in a legendary honey year…well I sure could have used a box or two of drawn…

The Case of the Missing Queen

It usually begins with an email, and the email goes something like this: Hi, this is Sidney, I  need some help with my bees! I could not find the queen and they went laying worker so I put in some frames of brood. But I did not find a queen so I bought a queen…

The Foulbroods……..Again.

What a spring it has been! I have seen a dreary repeat of last year’s early season EFB in the apiary. And with the added bonus, sigh, of two cases of AFB. Because as of this year, the usual treatment (oxytetracycline=OTC) is only available with a veterinary prescription, we have all been expecting high rates…

Never Say Swarm!

Click on the link above to open up my wee PowerPoint presentation on swarms and swarming. Spring is just around the corner here on the Pacific Northwest coast, and after what has been an unusually warm and rainy winter, the bees should wake up early and be primed to throw early swarms. Start checking them…

Package Bees 101

Maybe you are a beginning beekeeper, maybe you are expanding your existing apiary. Maybe you are making up for winter losses. Any which way you got here, you are going to buy a package of bees this spring. Definition: A package of bees is generally understood to be a few pounds of bees (three pounds…

Bees = Blackberries = Batter Cake

Here on the Pacific Northwest coast, the major nectar flow for our honey bees is the juicy and sweet blackberry, which blooms sometime in June. Blackberry yields a lovely amber honey with wild and musky berry notes: it has become my very favourite honey. Lucky thing, because that is what my bees make. In 2018,…

Easy-Peasy Queens

It may happen after spending a bundle of your honey money on queens that turned out to be mediocre. Or who go AWOL for no reason. It may happen when you look at a hive full of swarm cells and wonder just how many colonies you want to wedge into your back yard. It may…