Fruitless Fall.

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In the precious dawn of an Anzac morn I sit out on the verandah with black coffee and savour the sight and smell of yellowing leaves and cool damp air.

The season is run, we are done.
The crop drummed and stacked and a warm feeling in the belly that soon it will be gone.
Tis the season for relaxation.

I've picked up a few books lately that should have been read years ago, but somehow got stashed in the book shelf and forgotten about.

'Fruitless Fall ' by Rowan Jacobsen is one of them.
It documents the disasters of CCD and Neonic attacks that struck the US beekeepers and the world back in 2007/2008.
It talks of almond pollination and pesticide loading and bees struggling with Varroa and virus's in a polluted world.
It talks of 80% winter losses and low honey prices and Beekeepers at their wits end.
It's an interestng read .

Of particular interest is of the dude in Vermont who embraced the genetics of the Russian bee, and combined with organics, runs a healthy apiary.
His name is Karl Webster ... I found him on google, still beekeeping some 14 years after his wobbly start with the Russians and a no treatement varroa policy.
I found another guy in Wyoming who runs Top Bar hives and small cell foundation ..... who also seems to live with The Mite in some sort of happy relationship.

And it got me thinking..... Tis the season of relaxation with three and a half months 'til we crack the lids again.

I need to widen my social circle and up my skill level ..... I should go do a bit of visiting.
 
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Well there ya go….I was gonna feed the bees again, but they seem to have been on a Dew flow…. So I delagted tasks to the Girls and fled the country.
Things generally work better under Girl power….. and Life is too short to wonder what if….. so after reading Fruitless Fall I have embarked on a N. American study tour.

It started with Air NewZealnd cattle class, almost three hundred souls jammed into an aluminium tube and hurled nirth at 600 mph. 14 hours later we were spat out into N America.
Theres more to go yet…. Ashort hop to the middle of the continent and then a 250 k drive nirth to the tundra border where a bloke I know runs bees.
Two weeks ago it was -16c….. today it was 24c….. the bees have a short window of opportunity to build for a crop, so it’s gonna be interesting to see how he does it.
He tells me the mites have had a field day this winter.
 

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Well there ya go….I was gonna feed the bees again, but they seem to have been on a Dew flow…. So I delagted tasks to the Girls and fled the country.
Things generally work better under Girl power….. and Life is too short to wonder what if….. so after reading Fruitless Fall I have embarked on a N. American study tour.

It started with Air NewZealnd cattle class, almost three hundred souls jammed into an aluminium tube and hurled nirth at 600 mph. 14 hours later we were spat out into N America.
Theres more to go yet…. Ashort hop to the middle of the continent and then a 250 k drive nirth to the tundra border where a bloke I know runs bees.
Two weeks ago it was -16c….. today it was 24c….. the bees have a short window of opportunity to build for a crop, so it’s gonna be interesting to see how he does it.
He tells me the mites have had a field day this winter.
Good on you, I'm jealous!!!
 
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We drove north under a darkening sky thst brought rain to soak an already sodden land of snow melt.
Flocks of white Snow geese fossicked in the rich prairie soil for slugs snd bugs …. Sustensnce and kai for their slow migration north to their Arctic breeding grounds.
The landscape is sombre, shades of brown in a late spring, where pussy willow struggles to blossom and the bees are living on a diet of thick sucrose syrup and pollen patty.
And ss we drove, we talked…. Of bees, and spring and the stress and fear of weak and dead hives, of missing a honey flow in early july…. And also the hope,,,, that with so many desd hives the honey price will lift as packers chase supply … with a percentage forward payment offered now and the balance when the crop is in the drum.
A day later the rain had moved on. The sun returned and the temperature rose slightly…. Ever so slightly, luring the bees out to chase the odd pussy willow blossom.
 
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We did a bit of bee work today. The sun came out and as the day warmed one could almost see the willow budding and greening….. and by three o’clock a few foragers had located new pollen.
My mate runs 1500 hives with a crew of ten, mostly from South America. None proclaim to speak emglish, and old mate does’nt soeak Spanish…. But his S. American manager seems to keep things sorted.
Early ladt summer the crew gaf made up 1100 nucs with one frame of brood and one frame of bees and a queen cell.
The double brooder hives are wintered outside with insulated wraps.
The nucs are wintered in the hot room, except that over winter it’s mot too hot.
He had just pulled them out last week, and today we went through the last few pallets, adding Apivar varroa strips, pollen patties and a slurp of ‘drench’ for nosema .
Th e nucs had comthroigh the winter just, opening up to reveal small patches of brood and several hand fulls of bees .
These are the replacements to cover doible brood losses.
It was interesting. They build fast as the willow blossoms and the dandelion flowers in two weeks.

‘Sorry about yer hive tool’ said Ole mate.
‘I’ll find you one that works tomoro!’CC6FE229-4C40-47A2-88EB-6E8D958BACCC.jpeg3F3A008B-56A9-478F-BA69-3CB56B1C7A59.jpeg
 
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Have’nt quite managed to Tame the Tiger yet ….. we had 60 ml of rain the night before and when I grabbed her by the tail she swung me 180 and dumped me in the clay

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A little before that old mate took me to meet his neighbours.
Their honey shed had blown away the previous year in a tornado …. Grandpa had built it …..so they were in the process of fitting out the new one…..
3500 hives…. 1400 drums of honey …. Hmmm😬
$3/kg this year….
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Ouch…. The mud was so glutinous it got stuck under the front mudgaurd snd ripped it off…. Then the front brake lines snagged the knobbly tyre, locked her up and the test was history…..
Google all that and the professionals put a lift kit on the guard.
I think we cal it a ‘Hmmmm’ moment!
 
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