The maple syrup season has ended with great success. We were able to produce 16 gallons of the sweet stuff and it is now for sale. Some of our customers have said that our syrup is the best they had ever tasted. What an encouraging compliment! We are thankful that God has prospered our efforts. We are already thinking about next season. How we can improve our equipment and work flow. We have sold about half so if you would like some be sure to contact us soon! If you are located near the Twin Cities we have stashed some syrup at Mathew's parents' house in South Minneapolis, so you don't have to drive all the way up here to get it. You can either contact us directly by email or phone to order some maple syrup or you can fill out
Busy As a Bee
Shortly after our maple syrup season ended our bees arrived. I had much apprehension in both handling bees and having success in establishing them. Well, God has been good to me and I have yet to be stung and both queens have started to lay eggs! The eggs are a sure sign that the worker bees have accepted the queen. There is about a one week period after putting the bees and the queen in the hive in which you wait to see if the queen was accepted or rejected. If she is rejected then there will be no eggs thus no new bees and the colony will die out unless you get another queen.
Peter and Daddy checking on our bees.
I am learning that much of beekeeping is like managing an apartment. The bees mostly take care of themselves, you don't choose what they eat or where they go during the day. The beekeeper mainly makes sure their home is secured and well maintained. Bees are not a domesticated creature, we've just figured out how to make a place that they will choose to live in. But if the beekeeper doesn't maintain the "apartment" the bees will start looking for another place to live. Bees will not tolerate slum lords :-)
A final note about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). There are many environmental stressors (pesticide applications, extra wet and cold spring, presence of mites, etc.) that can cause the bee colony to decline and ultimately collapse. This is called Colony Collapse Disorder. For the last five years this disorder has accounted for the loss of roughly 1/3 of all the colonies in the U.S. each year. As the numbers for last winter come in it seems that CCD has claimed 50% of the hives in the U.S. in 2012. Since there are many factors (some have identified up to 32) contributing to CCD, it is virtually impossible for beekeepers to fight CCD on their own. Yet as research progresses on CCD action steps are being developed to reduce the possibility of CCD. If you are interested in helping fight CCD, two action steps have been identified for the general public to follow. #1. Do not apply pesticides during the day when bees are out. And use the pesticide only as directed on its packaging. #2. Include pollinator friendly plants in your yards and gardens. (Dandelions are a great source of food for bees, a good reason not to fight their invasion of your yard :-)) To learn more about pollinator friendly plants you can check out this fact sheet
the Xerces Society has published. If you are interested in learning more about CCD check out this page
from the Agricultural Research Service of the USDA.
As I learn more about beekeeping I find myself asking God more and more to keep the bee colony strong and healthy, because He is their provider. I am mainly an observer.
We are now up to 4 batches of chickens (approx. 400 birds). We have ages ranging from 9 weeks down to 6 days. Soon we will begin processing our chickens right here on the farm. We received the processing equipment a couple weeks ago and are ready to start using it. Our equipment comes from Featherman Equipment
. We now have kill cones, a scalding tank, and a plucker. This equipment will help us process more birds at a higher quality than if used an ax and chopping block, a wood fired water tub, and plucked by hand. We are excited to get the processing under way! We might even take our maiden voyage with the equipment during this upcoming work weekend with a few of our bigger birds. If you are interested in purchasing some healthy, pastured poultry you can either contact us directly by email or phone to place an order or you can fill out our order form
and send it in.