Out with the old, in with the new

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Cleaning out old hives, getting rid of dead bees and too much honey comb inside the hives is not my favourite task, but it has to be done. Plus, it heralds the coming of spring, and with it, a bunch of new bee colonies–and you know what that means? Honey! It also means the time is drawing closer when we can really get our new, 11-acre permaculture farm up and running. And that means more yummy fruits and veggies, a clover cover crop, ducks in the ponds and goats…well, probably up in the trees. There’s a reason the young ones are called “kids.” They are always up to something!

 

Cleaning out a dead hive

Cleaning out a dead hive

A frame of honey

A frame of honey

Dead bees on a full frame of honey

Dead bees on a full frame of honey

Winterkilled bees

Winterkilled bees

2015 Ontario Honey production results disappoint

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Statistics Canada released their honey statistics report for 2015, which reveals a drop in Ontario honey production, number of beekeepers and bee colonies. This is very disappointing, especially compared to the gains made elsewhere in Canada.

“According to the report:

  • Ontario’s honey production is down from 2014 by 11.1% compared to an overall increase of 11.4% for Canada.
  • This roughly corresponds to a decrease in colony numbers of 10.3% in Ontario. Canada-wide figures show an overall increase in colonies of 3.6%.
  • Average per colony production remains flat in Ontario at 93 pounds, down slightly from 93.8 in 2014.
  • Average production per colony, Canada-wide, increased from 122.8 in 2014 to 132 in 2015, an increase of 7.5%
  • The number of beekeepers in Ontario is down 21.5%, from 3,262 in 2014 to 2,562 in 2015.

Variations can, and do, occur year over year within and between provinces. Although we are looking closely at these figures, we are not making any assumptions at this point about either their validity or significance. Ontario’s beekeeping industry is unusual in that we have many beekeepers  – over 30% of Canada’s total – but 80% of the colonies are managed by only 20% of beekeepers.”

Information provided by the Ontario Beekeepers Association: www.ontariobee.com.

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RHH Hives Ready to Go for Spring

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Cleaning out the overwintered hives

Cleaning out the overwintered hives

#redhousehoney06

The hive is buzzing with activity! A small nucleus of bees made it through the winter and a ramping up for spring. We’ve added pollen patties, a rich feed which stimulate hive growth as the queen begins to lay eggs — up to 1,000 per day. As the dandelions and other florals begin to open, the bees will be buzzing around the neighbourhood collecting pollen, nectar and pine pitch for their busy hive-building activities. Any day now, we will receive our three new ‘nucs’ (small colony of worker bees and a mated queen) which will help us build up our apiary to its former strength. Hello honey!

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Related Images:

Winter Honey

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Winter Honey

Winter Honey

#redhousehoney
Another tragedy…Red House Honey’s fellow bee-loving neighbours lost a second hive this winter. The poor bees froze to death despite having been cosily protected and fed, but left oodles of lovely honey. The neighbours will restock this spring, just like RHH. This glorious winter honey is sweet and lemony golden, having matured nicely over the winter in the darkness of the hive.
RHH lent some glass jars to help cope with the emergency honey flow, and was the lucky recipient of a jar of honey in return. Honey love…yum!

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Ontario Agriculture industry groups walk out on Ontario government neonicotinoid consultatons

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#redhousehoney Here’s how several powerful Ontario agriculture groups have chosen to deal with the Ontario government’s consultation sessions on its proposed regulatory system to reduce neonicotinoid usage (the stuff that is killing Red House Honey’s bees every year). Read on for more astonishing details of this incident directly from the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association (OBA):

The OBA writes:

“Subsequent to the announcement of a proposed regulatory system aimed at reducing neonicotinoid usage on 80% of corn and soy fields by 2017, the Province set up a series of consultations to discuss the plan and implementation issues. OBA has attended all sessions so far (Kingston is coming up on the 14th), and found them enlightening, respectful and constructive. The Grain Farmers of Ontario, however, boycotted them, not wanting their message (as they put it) “to be diluted at urban venues by non-stakeholders”. Instead they insisted on an agriculture-only meeting to which OBA was not invited. And then, according to the National Farmers’ Union, as the meeting started, GFO, CropLifeCanada, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, the Canadian Seed Trade Association, the Ontario Agri Business Association and the Canola Council of Canada made statements opposing this proposal and walked out of the room.

In a statement, GFO, announced that they would, instead, create their own process and develop an alternative solution. The OBA is disappointed and disturbed at the strong-armed and secretive tactics of the GFO and the AgChem industry, but we remain committed to the process and to talking and collaborating with all those who are open to it. Currently we are reaching out to farm groups and looking for ways to build bridges and to make the proposed regulatory system work effectively for all.

In the meantime, the Ontario government is continuing their consultation. OBA is encouraging all beekeepers and bee supporters to read and respond to the consultation paper.
OBA is currently completing its own response, which we will share, but we have provided a draft email for you to send to the government. Deadline: Jan. 25, 2015

You can find the government’s consultation paper here.

You can find a draft email which you can personalize here.

Or you can write your own email here.

If you are in the Kingston area, don’t forget the meeting on the 14th.”

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No bees, no blueberries.

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#redhousehoney06 RHH was at the Prescott Farmers’ Market and a blueberry grower came to tell us she had no blueberries to sell: no bees pollinated the plants in spring. The stark truth is without bees, there are no crops. The farmer hopes to have a beekeeper put some hives on her property as soon as possible, so she can get back to the business of growing blueberries.
Makes you wonder why outfits like Home Depot and others continue to purchase and encourage the use of plants which are dusted with and even nurtured in neonicotinoids. Most people don’t even realize that those cut flowers on their doorsteps are contributing to the bees’ demise. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy-and-resources/home-depot-plants-contain-pesticide-linked-to-honey-bee-deaths/article19432924/
58% of Ontario’s honey bees died last winter, including 100% of Red House Honey’s bees. That is an unacceptably high level by any reckoning, the result of a severe winter, neonicotinoids, mites and other factors: www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/editorials/pesticides-pollination-and-the-bees-needs/article19782564/

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