Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Happy New Year

     To everyone I wish a very happy and healthy new year to you and your loved ones (including your bees).  May your bees survive the cold of winter, develop a resistance to Varroa and other pests, be free of all diseases and produce buckets of honey.
     Please don't drink and fly!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Winter Preparation for Vancouver Beekeepers

      It's October and there is still a minimal supply of nectar and pollen in our 4 acre garden from primarily the common Asian Aster, Japanese Anemone and Autumn Joy Sedum.  I've identified our foraging shortage to occur in September to October so plan to separate the root balls of the Aster this fall to create more plants. When mature the Aster becomes a 1.5 by 1.5 metre (4 by 4 foot) bush with hundreds of flowers and can bloom well into October.  We have about a hundred autumn flowering variety Asters in our 4 acre garden.  Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), a native member of the Aster family is also in bloom.  A mixed diet is essential for the girls so I will also be planting other varieties of late blooming plants like Caryopteris 'Dark Knight' (Blue Mist Spirea), Dahlia, Hardy Fushia, Seven Sons flower (Autumn Lilac), Impatiens omeianan, Camellia sinensis (Hardy tea bush) and Osmanthus fragrans (Fragrant Olive) (Nutritional Value of Bee Collected Pollens and Pollen Sources).  I will avoid the temptation to plant the invasive late blooming ivy and Himalayan Balsam. 

     Winter preparation for bee colonies in Vancouver, like the writing of this post should have begun by August 1st or earlier (Beekeeping Calendar for B.C.).  I complete my winter hive setup by the middle of October.  Much of what you do in preparation depends on your management style of beekeeping (virtually nothing for the extreme natural beekeeper to intense management for most commercial beekeepers).  These are just a few suggestions based on my experience keeping bees in Vancouver.
     The biggest problem I see with new beekeepers is not planning ahead.   In our beekeeping coop new beekeepers are always rushing around for needed hive boxes and frames, feeders, robber screens, quilts …. The best advice I could give new beekeepers is to plan 2 months ahead of where you are at.   Pest and disease identification and control should be an ongoing process and if you are beginning now it may be too late.  Evidence of chalk brood or nosema would indicate a weak colony (Honey Bee Diseases and Parasites).  Increased ventilation and removal of old comb can be done to combat the chalk brood and a pollen patty/fumagillin mixture may help combat the nosema.  Mite counts throughout the year and subsequent treatments should let you know whether you have a major issue.  Mite treatments like formic acid can continue into October as long as there is a day time high temp of 10c and oxalic acid is usually done in December when there is little to no brood present.  A reduced screened entrance using eighth inch hardware cloth can be used to allow for needed ventilation during formic acid treatments while providing a more easily defended reduced entrance.  The video below "Getting Your Hives Ready for Winter" is a recorded webinar with Kim Flottum (Bee expert and editor of Bee Culture magazine) which does a very good job of discussing winter preparation for bee colonies focusing on year around mite control.  Controlling mites goes a long way to controlling virus transmission and overall colony health.

      The bee colonies are actively into winter preparation by increased house cleaning, increased hive defense and the removal of drones.  The drones having fulfilled their roles in hive thermoregulation and mating become a liability as they do not participate in foraging or hive tasks and can consume twice that of worker bees.  Hygienic house cleaning (i.e removal of dead bees, applying antiseptic propolis ...) which is difficult in the cold of winter when the bees are confined to the cluster is an important part of disease reduction.  With the decrease in available forage robbing and wasp attacks become a real concern so guard bees will become more defensive and in the wild the colony may reduce the size of the entrance with propolis and wax.  The beekeeper can assist by reducing the entrance to as small as 1.5 centimeters or a half inch to make it easier to defend.  If wasp attacks or robbing persists you can use a robber screen which are easy to make.

      The U.S. Bee Informed Survey (the only large scale North American survey of this type) of wintering hives showed that only 3 conditions determined winter survival success and they were adequate food, strong colonies (equalization) and ventilation.

The survey is extensive and includes the results for geographic region, all types of pest and disease management, feeding and winter preparation.  The Bee Informed Survey 2014 - 2015

Wrapping and insulation showed no benefit but I think that depends on where you live.  If you live in cold northern climates like Winterpeg either you wrap and insulate or you bring the girls inside. 40 below is 40 below.  Insulation is not necessary in Vancouver and can be counter productive by keeping the heat out and preventing the hive from warming up.  Some local beekeepers wrap their hives with black roofing paper to prevent wind penetration and to help absorb the heat (Black objects absorb more heat).   The argument against this is that the girls take care of any wind penetration with use of propolis and do we want a warmer hive in the winter?  Warmer means more active bees and more food consumption.  For us wrapping in March may be an option as we have lots of blossoms (Willow, forsythia, flowering cherry, bulbs ...) but marginal foraging temperatures.  Wrapping would warm the hives and get the girls flying earlier in the day increasing their pollen and nectar intake and stimulate egg laying.

Temperature difference on black and white surface
     Wintering your bees is like real estate value in that the 3 most important considerations are location, location and location.  Location dictates the methods you will use to protect your bees from the elements. Windbreaks are essential in some areas where there are cold, winter winds.  In winter Vancouver has a predominant, low pressure weather pattern with winds from the southeast that bring with it fairly constant cool, wet weather.  We have only a few snow falls per year and a few weeks of freezing temperatures.  Therefore moisture not cold is our biggest issue.  The moisture is created when warm air created by the cluster of bees rises and contacts the cold inner cover creating cold condensation which drips onto the cluster.  There are a lot of different methods to reduce moisture in the hive like tilting the hive forward by putting a 2x4 under the back of the hive to allow the moisture to run down the front of the hive and not on the cluster.  Most of the beekeepers in our coop use an Insulated Moisture Quilt placed above the hive boxes to reduce cold condensation dripping on the winter cluster.
The bee hive in winter without any form of moisture reduction

Insulated Moisture Quilt
The heat produced by the cluster rises to contact the warmer insulated cover producing less condensation, which then drips onto the wood chips (not the bees) which are dried by the vent holes.  They are easy to make out of scrap material and the link above provides detailed building instructions.  During winter you must have an upper entrance in your Langstroth hive for ventilation and because dead bees can block the lower entrance.  I presently have my upper entrance covered with eighth inch hardware cloth to keep out robber bees and wasps.  I will remove this once those threats have passed.  For moisture reduction in a Kenyan Top Bar Hive beekeepers can use an insulated moisture quilt, carpet over the top bars (Bill Stagg's method) or reflective insulation (Sam Comfort's method).  Whether you leave your screened bottom board open or not (for increased ventilation) is debatable but if left open you must block the drafts from blowing under the hive.  I put the mite test board in to block the winter winds but have friends who do not and successfully overwinter their bees.  In Vancouver we get at least 2 major storms a year of 80+ km winds (50 miles per hr).  For this reason we use cinder blocks on our hives to prevent the outer cover from blowing off and have positioned the hives to have a natural wind break (berm to the south).  A wind break is particularly important for roof top beekeepers.  Though not necessary some of us use pieces of plexiglass extending 4+ inches over our outer covers to provide additional weather protection and extend the life of our beekeeping equipment.
 Winter Hive
       Experienced beekeepers will tell new beekeepers it's better to have 2 hives than 1 because inevitably 1 will be stronger than the other and this allows you to strengthen the weaker hive with bees from the stronger (Equalization).  By adding 2-4 frames of bees and brood as needed and available every 3-4 weeks starting in July you can substantially help your weaker colony winter over.  If you find you have a weak colony now in October you can combine the colony with a stronger one removing the weaker queen (equalization).  Some beekeepers (not me) like to requeen as part of their winter preparation to make sure they have young, active queens the following spring.  If you haven't already your Langstroth colonies should be reduced to 2 deep supers and your Kenyan Top Bars reduced by moving your follower board or your false backs forward (Winterizing your Top Bar Hive).  Queen excluders should be removed so the queen can move with the cluster as it moves upward.
      It's good at this point to make sure you have your emergency winter feeders ready. A major cause of colony death is late winter starvation (February - April) which can be solved by the use of an emergency winter feeder (Candy Board). 
They're easy to build with 1x2's and quarter inch wire mesh and can be a colony lifesaver.  You can quickly check on the feeders through the late winter to gauge the status of the food supply.  Because of the drought this summer and subsequent decreased nectar supply our winter food supplies are not what they should be with some of the colonies so some of us have been feeding syrup and pollen patties for the last month.  Some beekeepers begin feeding in August.  Personally I don't feed unless needed and in most years it's not.  This article "Feeding Bees in Winter" describes the different methods of feeding at different temperatures.  The girls will take a 2 to 1 syrup down to about 12 celsius (53 fahrenheit) after which they find it too difficult to process for storage.  Some beekeepers will feed syrup baggies in colder temperatures on the theory that heat from the cluster warms the syrup.  I've not tried this.  In the Greater Vancouver area there are very big differences in winter food requirements based on available foraging days and available forage. Because of the  effect of the North Shore Mountains precipitation varies from 150+ inches (380 centimeters) annually at the upper altitudes of the mountains to 30 inches (75 centimeters) along the U.S. border.  This effect reduces precipitation and increases hours of sunlight as you move southward.  The graph below divides Greater Vancouver into 9 zones with 9 being the upper altitudes of the North Shore Mountains and 1 being the southern region along the U.S. border (Greater Vancouver Precipitation).  As the crow flies this is a distance of less than 30 kilometers or 20 miles.
Though active at lower temperatures I have found high population foraging in our apiary at 12 degrees celsius (53 fahrenheit) in March (Willow trees, Forsythia, Flowering Cherry).

This means more flyable, foraging weather the further south you live and the more active the colony with the additional needed sunshine warming the hive and bees. I have observed the activity of the bees throughout the lower mainland to be directly linked to the number of hours of sunlight on the hives.  Conclusion, for optimum colony health move to a southern suburb like Tsawwassen, Ladner, White Rock or Abbotsford or maximize the sun exposure on your hives (South to southeast exposure with minimal shade).  This is becoming a major issue for us surrounded by fast growing Black Locust, Willow and Cottonwood trees (Great pollen and nectar sources). 
      Also effecting hive performance is available forage which can vary according to whether you are in a rural agricultural or urban setting. The rural, agricultural areas in Surrey, Delta and the Fraser Valley tend to have extreme honey and brood production during crop blossoms but can suffer in the off season while the urban areas tend to have a more consistent food source availability throughout the foraging period (March - November) due to urban landscaping and irrigation. We're fortunate to have 7 cultivated acres in our 2 combined community gardens surrounded by fields of clover with flowering trees.  While it varies by region, because of the reasons discussed above (weather and available forage) and the size of the colony we need on average at least 8 deep or 10 medium frames of honey (65 lbs or 30 kilograms) to over winter.  The honey frames should be positioned on both sides of the cluster in the bottom box and above the cluster in the second super (super = hive box).  If the cluster is in an upper box I like to switch the box to the bottom in preparation for winter.  In the spring you can reverse that process as the girls will have worked their way up to upper part of the second box.
Winter cluster
For a Kenyan Top Bar put the cluster at one end and the honey frames next to the cluster.  I've always run all deep supers in my Langstroth hives because universal boxes and frames are easier to manage.  I can add honey frames from my third or fourth box to the brood boxes to over winter.  Many new beekeepers and some old are moving towards all medium boxes because of the lighter weight.  This makes sense as a deep box of honey can weigh 80 lbs (36 kgs).
      All beekeepers have plus and negative food accumulation months and generally April 1 to Oct 1 are positive food accumulation months for us in the Strathcona area of Vancouver.  March and October can be neutral or negative depending on the available foraging days (weather).  November through February are winter cluster, negative food accumulation months.
      Wasps are a major problem for us in the late summer and fall so we have reduced our entrances to less than an inch and screened off the upper entrances. This blocks potential wasp intrusion and robbing by other bees on the feeding and still allows ventilation. The girls are better able to defend the reduced single entrance.  I don't indiscriminately kill wasps (I've identified 9 different types in our garden including recently a parasitic wasp in my blue mason cocoons) but have found them increasingly aggressive towards our colonies for a longer period of time in the fall (last year until December).  I've found the lure variety to be very effective on our greatest threat which are the common Yellowjacket wasps.  This lure trap can also be used in the spring to kill the emerging wasp queens.  Home Depot sells these locally.

Wasp trap
      Though still mild it's time to think of mice which like to winter in the hives. There are a hundred different varieties of mouse proof entrances from quarter inch screened mesh, drilled metal sheet to simple nails minimizing the entrance.  The mice can get through a fairly small area and will chew through wood.  I use a simple wood entrance reducer with a nail reducing the entrance to just over the width of a bee.  This allows for the removal of dead bees which the girls do as part of winter house cleaning.  If you find the mice chewing on the entrance reducer you can wrap it in wire mesh.

Difficult house cleaning
Wire mesh mouse proof entrance reducer
       For more information on wintering your colonies check out the recorded webinars by Kim Flottum, "Getting your hives ready for winter" or "Putting the hive to bed for winter".  You may also want to check out The Biology and Management of Colonies in Winter , Winterization Guide for Beekeeping , The Thermology of Wintering Honey Bee Colonies or Wrapping a Honey Bee Colony with Tar Paper  from the Beekeepers' Library.  Good luck to you and your bees and stay dry.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Cottonwood Beekeeping Cooperative Honey Harvest

     We did a honey harvest this past weekend with our 2 frame hand crank extractor.  A lot more fun than a Flow Hive.  I felt neither the animosity or admiration other beekeepers felt for the "Flow Hive".  At $500 Canadian for a few frames I was more disturbed by the price.
     We're experiencing a drought in Vancouver with no winter snow in the mountains and water restrictions in effect as of last week.  This is obviously a concern for beekeepers as the amount of moisture present determines the nectar available for the bees.  We kept this in mind when pulling honey frames leaving lots of partially wax capped and wet frames (uncapped honey) in each hive.  Also, important to note no blow outs on foundationless, unwired frames.  It seems as long as they are firmly attached on all 4 sides we have no problems.  Half of the honey from each hive goes to the Vancouver Foodbank or is sold to support Cottonwood Community Garden.  Thanks to Bruce for these photos.

Serge demonstrating the proper wobble proof sitting position on the extractor
Though we have fine filters we have determined that we and our customers (friends) prefer a very large filter removing only the largest bits of wax.
     While pulling honey frames for the harvest we checked on the queen status of two previously queenless hives and found fresh larvae.  We had added frames of young brood to create the new queens.

Our Honey Bee Larvae
     A major concern for us beginning in September when they leave their nests is the Yellowjacket Wasps (Vespula pensylvanica - Western yellowjacket) that attempt to enter the hives and kill our bees.  Last year they were much more aggressive and persistent well into December surviving many a frosty night.  With this particular species of wasp all die with the arrival of cold weather (we thought) except for the newly mated queen who survives in a sheltered location.

Vespula pensylvanica (western yellowjacket-Queen) in our garden.
     The wasps like all living things play an important role in our ecosystem by preying on our crop pests and pollinating some of our plants.  I've identified 8 different species of wasp in our garden.  Actually I had help from the experts at Bugguide .  They will do their best to identify any insect photo you send to them.

Polistes dominula- European paper wasp in our garden.
      Of greater concern for us than the aggressive wasps may be a September dearth or bloomless period.  The Goldenrod and Rudbeckia are in bloom and I'm picking apples, all a month premature.  September is usually a good foraging month for us but with warm temperatures, hungry bees and few blooms many local beekeepers will consider syrup feeding.  Let's hope I'm wrong.

Ahhh, filling my favourite honey jar.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cottonwood Cooperative Apiary Hive Inspection

One of the girls enjoying a flowering Allium.

     We have created a beekeeping cooperative at our community garden.  Initially the main purpose was to provide a home for yardless apartment dwelling urban beekeepers but the sharing of resources and particularly expertise for novice beekeepers has proven to be added benefits.
     We're fortunate to have 3.5 planted acres with 120 individual garden plots, over 150 gardeners and 10 beekeepers.  There are also over 50 fruit trees (some of our garden nectar and pollen sources) and a native forest with among others, Cottonwoods, Willows (great early season (March) pollen and nectar source) and Black Locust trees (May blooms - great honey source).  We also have a number of flower gardens and a wide variety of berries (Thimble, Salmon, Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry, Gooseberry and Currents).  As a vegetarian I am living almost exclusively off the produce from the garden this time of year.  Our bees are actively foraging from March til October and our only period of dearth (bloom shortage) is late September into October.  We're planting Goldenrod Aster to make up for this short fall.  Next weekend we will be doing our second honey extraction of the year with part of the honey going to the local Foodbank and part being sold to help support the community garden.
     Each individual beekeeper in the cooperative has their own style of organic beekeeping which is the interesting aspect of beekeeping.  We even have a treatment free Kenyan Top Bar beekeeper which we are monitoring to see if the treatment free methodology effects other hives.  The top bar nuc came from a long time local, successful treatment free bee breeder.  All of the beekeepers are transitioning to foundationless frames with a 3 year turn over practice to reduce toxic and disease build up.  This is the first year that a number of the hives has gone through a natural requeening with a 3-4 week broodless period.  The result is slightly smaller yet healthy colonies with less honey and extreme low 24 hour mite counts (0-3) for this time of year.  The broodless period is obviously beneficial for mite control as mite reproduction takes place in the bee brood.  I've noticed the wasps actively hunting around the hives (not the entrance) preying on sick or dying bees.  Will have to monitor this as the Yellowjacket wasps (I have identified 8 species of wasps in our garden) were a major problem last fall.  I have the wasp traps ready to go.  Thanks to Matt for taking these photos of our last apiary inspection.         

Mary keeping records of our 10 hives (We also use Beetight online hive tracking).

Some of our beekeepers are transitioning from deep to medium supers for easier lifting.

Good brood pattern.

Foundationless medium frame with wood starter strip.

Medium frame in a deep super.

Foundationless (With wire or without?)

Honey frame almost completely capped.

Feeding syrup to new split nuc.  Some feed, some don't.

The girls drawing out a foundationless medium.

Drawing out a medium frame of a new split nuc.

Artichoke Thistle.  A favorite of our girls.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Introduction to Beekeeping in Vancouver Class

One of the girls enjoying a Kale blossom
     Last year's Kale is in blossom and the bees are enjoying it.  The spring has provided good foraging weather and we are entering May which is the most productive month in the bee colonies for us.  While April has as many blossoms the warmer, dryer longer days of May gives more foraging time for the increased population of bees.  The blossoms that dominate our 4 acre garden in May are Raspberries and Black Locust trees.

Our bees love Raspberry blossoms
       May is also a time when we present our first "Introduction to Beekeeping" class of the year.  Beekeeping has become popular and a recent survey in the U.S. revealed that over 70% of beekeepers quit beekeeping within the first 5 years.  I believe this is because people enter into beekeeping too quickly and are not properly prepared for the dedication of time and continuous learning that is required to be a competent beekeeper.  Also, new beekeepers do not have the support needed to deal with problems that arise.  The goal of this class is not to discourage you or take the place of a full beekeeping course but to assist you and better prepare you in your decision to become a beekeeper.  We will provide you with a very basic overview of  honey bees and beekeeping and answer all of your questions.  The class is about 2 hours in length and as it is held outside is weather dependent.  We keep the class small so that everyone can have if they wish an intimate experience with the bees so reservation is necessary.  There is no cost and we provide the veil and gloves.  Our classes are held at Cottonwood Community Garden in Strathcona Park.  To reserve a spot in our "Introduction to Beekeeping Class", Saturday, May 16th contact us at strathconabeeat gmaildo tcom.  For more information on beekeeping courses check out our Vancouver Beekeeping Courses page.
     All of theory needed to be a beekeeper is available for free online.  A good start is "Beekeeping 101" which is an assortment of books, videos and a course from the University of California.  Our Beekeepers' Library is also a good source of information.  While theory is important the practical application and guidance of experienced beekeepers is more so.  We look forward to seeing you at our beekeeping class.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Honey Bee Nucs vs Packages

     There are few hard, set in concrete rules in beekeeping despite what some will tell you. Whether to buy a bee nuc or package depends like a lot of things on your location and your needs.  A nuc (nucleus of a colony) consists of 4-5 frames of bees in a half sized Langstroth deep box: laying queen, 2 frames of brood and 2 frames of honey and/or pollen. A typical package consists of 3 pounds of bees, and a queen. Normally the package bees are from production hives where they shake out bees into the package box. A mated queen is then placed in the package, protected in a queen cage.  There is usually a container of syrup in the package to feed the bees for the days before they are transferred to a hive. A package is usually put together a few days before sold and in the case of cold weather beekeepers in spring comes from a warmer location to the south. In our case because of government restrictions (No U.S. Bees to Canada) this means thousands of miles south from New Zealand or Chile. The video below shows the process of creating a package of bees.

      The main advantage of the package is that in cold weather areas they are available (March) a few months before local nucs (May) which allows beekeepers to take advantage of spring fruit blossoms.  Fortunately for us at Cottonwood Garden Apiary in Vancouver a supply of "overwintered nucs" are available this year at the same time as the package, cheaper than the package (devalued dollar) and a much better option.  However, in British Columbia the supply does not meet the demand as over 3,000 packages of bees will be imported this March from New Zealand to help pollinate the Fraser Valley blueberries.  In l985 biologist and author Mark Winston wrote "it is estimated that, at present colony densities, BC has the potential to produce 75,520 spring packages each year, and increased colony density and a higher level of commercial beekeeping could elevate this figure. Continued and increased package and nucleus production, coupled with increased wintering and queen production, could result in a high degree of Canadian self-sufficiency within the next few years (l989 Study on package and nuc production in B.C.)."  That self-sufficiency was never realized.  Large scale package and nuc production was never developed and with current 30% winter colony losses our dependence on imported packages will continue.
      Packages are a necessity in some areas because of the lack of nucs available.  They are usually cheaper, have less pests and diseases (no comb) and can be installed into any type of hive.  In most areas the packages come from a warmer climate so winter survival is less likely as proven in a good, small scale study carried out in New England by master beekeeper Erin MacGregor-Forbes (Comparison of colony strength and survivability between nucs and packages).  This single study is certainly not conclusive evidence but suggests a problem with imported warm weather packages and a need for more projects like this.  Erin found a significant difference in winter survival between the southern package and nucleus (the nucs had twice the survival rate) but also found that a southern package with a replaced local queen performed as well as the nucleus.

      In our situation bee packages come from a similar climate but the opposite hemisphere so they leave New Zealand in late summer and arrive in Canada a few days later in early Spring where it can be freezing and snowing (I have experienced this).  This obviously can be hard on the bees.  Erin also found in her study that the packages outperformed the nucs in terms of honey production which she attributed to a high rate of swarming by the nucleus colonies. I don't know if she took measures to prevent swarming but this has not been my experience .  I've not had exceptional problems with nucs swarming but have used swarm prevention methods like checkerboarding and splits (Check out "Swarms" in the "Basic Beekeeping" section of our library).

       The benefits of using a nucleus over a package are that the queen is established, she is laying, you can see the brood pattern and there are usually at least 2 frames of brood.

Good brood pattern
     The worker bees in a nucleus colony know their roles so there are nurse bees and foragers and the foundation is set (drawn comb) which will put them at least a few weeks ahead of an imported package. 

Bees with a sense of humour drawing out a frame
     Many backyard beekeepers will not have drawn frames to install their packages on to so a lot of energy and feeding will be required to produce the wax to draw out the frames.  Because there are foragers and at least one frame of honey and pollen the nucleus will not require feeding.

Frame of honey

     A survey by the Beekeepers Assocition of North Virginia to determine if the source of queens effected colony winter survival found significant differences between southern packages (23%) and local nucs (87%).  While this is an extreme example I thinks it supports the theory of the benefits of local nucs over imported southern packages.     
     While the package may be a necessity for the commercial beekeeper, in my humble opinion if available the nuc from local, survivor stock is a better option even two months after the package particularly for the new beekeeper.  With the nuc, because you have an established colony (Queen) with drawn comb and stores there is less likelihood of problems like absconding or queen failure that can occur with packages.  Biologist and author Mark Winston (Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive) suggests we need to wean ourselves off of this dependence on imported bees.  The solution lies in the lowering of the winter loss rate possibly through the development of a strong local, survivor stock with hygienic behavior and a love of mushrooms.  The increasing popularity of overwintering nucs may also be helpful.


     In the video below Michael Palmer describes some of the difficulties associated with starting a bee hive from scratch using package bees including the lack of nurse bees for the new brood.

     For more information on nucs and packages check out "Splits, Nucs and Packages" in the Basic Beekeeping section of the Beekeepers' Library.  Be sure to check out the articles on overwintering nucs by Kirk Webster, Mel Disselkoen and others in the "Winter Management" section of our library.  In Vancouver Urban Bee, West Coast Bee Supplies and Dancing Bee Apiary will be selling New Zealand packages in March and B.C. Beekeeping will be selling local, overwintered nucs from March to May (Vancouver Bees for Sale). 
     Vancouver has been experiencing unseasonably warm weather with temperatures in the 50's (10-12 Celsius).  The willow, witch hazel, early flowering cherries, crocus and hellebores are in bloom and the girls are actively bringing in the pollen.  Spring is in the air.

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