The Farm – First Working Trip of The Year

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Travel was not much fun at the start of the trip. We had another springter snowstorm just before I left on Monday. Driving on snowy roads without a load is not a good idea in a flat-bed dual wheel one ton trutk. The back end always wants to take the lead. So the first stop was to pick up a thousand pounds of bagged sand, which I did. They were still clearing snow at Ace Hardware where I got the sand, and there was plenty of it to clear. Subsequently, the roads were not bad, but the exits and on-ramps were dicey. Never-the-less, I made it to Stillwater by 09:40 or so. The folks at Natures Nectar were organized and efficient. I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

So, with two packages of bees (6 pounds) buzzing on the floor of the truck on the passengers side, a thousand pounds of sand on the flat bed, a few clothes and not much else…I took off for the Farm. Roads got way better just South of the Twin Cities on 52. Almost like it never snowed. The rest of the drive was a nice quiet ride. I saw a grey fox and a lot of red-tailed hawks which seemed all to out hunting on the same day. The scenery was good. Seems like forever since I have seen anything but suburbs. Damn! I hate suburbs!

Anyway, I got to the farm around 16:00 and unloaded what little I had brought. Mostly, I got the bees in the milk-house where it is warm. Temps outside were of course still cold, and remained so until today (Thursday). It snowed Wednesday afternoon and evening, dumping yet another 4 inches or so of snow, but there was very little wind and the temp never dropped much below 31 or so. The weather was supposed to warm today, so I transferred the bees to a couple of nucs Wednesday evening. A nuc is sort of a half hive, holding only 5 frames. It is used for a number of things, and one of them is starting a new hive with new bees. They are easy for the bees to keep warm, and that gives them time and energy to start setting up for the season instead of just keeping the queen alive. The transfer went smoothly

So the new bees are a complete restart for us. I screwed up. I insulated the hives much like I did last year except I left more ventilation to avoid the condensation problem I saw after last winter. Too much compensation I guess. I lost all four hives to freezing weather. Live and learn. Next fall, I will simply move the hives into the barn and let them winter there. No wind, no snow, and no skunks or raccoons to try to get into the hives. That should take care of that problem. Besides, I can then use some of my automation to monitor them all winter long. That should be interesting. I should be able to track internal temperature of each hive, the weight of each, humidity and a few other pertinent variaboopole right from Minnesota. Should be handy. And it should prevent another total loss!

Tonight, after I rest, and tomorrow will be cleanup. There was a lot of honey left behind by the bees that died. And frames and hive bodies that now need to be cleaned and readied for expansion late this summer or next year. Another two gallons and change of honey got extracted today. That and a lot of wax was recovered too. But that work is sticky and generally messy. I spent all damn day on it and am too tired physically to do any more for a few hours. My spine is killing me right now! I will rest a few hours and then get started on clean up. Tomorrow I will finish up, pack, and head on back to Minnesota. Will be good to get back to my grandson… but will look forward to the next trip to the farm. That will be a mandatory trip as the bees will have to be moved to full size hives back out at the apiary site by then. The nucs are too small and intended just to get them started strong. They will grow out of them quickly, and so need to be transferred. The queen will have laid eggs and those eggs will hatch out in 28 days. That means a population gain and thus more room needed.

Looking around the farm, there is the standard million item list of things to do that always exists. When I die I expect that list to be just as long as it is today. That is the Farm, and I am glad of it.

As of now, I have to rest. I am exhausted… but it is a good exhaustion. Later tonight and tomorrow are going to be as busy as today was…and then the five hour drive home. Yeah, time to rest for a bit…


About Author:

Retired automation engineer (having had many roles leading up to that). Interested in agriculture, economics, cancer research, philosophy, embedded systems and SOC(System On Chip). Enjoy the family farm and my grandsons and playing around with Raspberry Pi and Arduino systems. A bit of web programming in Perl... growing plants.... and too many other things to list.

2 thoughts on “The Farm – First Working Trip of The Year

  1. We also lost our bees this past Winter.
    I too added ventilation but not insulation.

    I never thought of moving the bees inside a non- heated space for Winter.

    We will try over again this Spring.

    Have bees ordered from the Amish family in Black River Falls.

    Where Bill Matthews got his.

    1. Nice to see you here Irv!
      I used the one inch pink foam insulation both winters. This winter I am going to make sure to use three inch pink foam. Am also going to make moisture boards for the top of each hive.
      I hope you can stay in touch on the subject of bees. Would be cool to share experiences regarding them. Thanks for reading here and for commenting! Please do anytime!

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