2014 was another weird weather year in the Red River Valley.
We had an exceptionally cold wet spring that held the bees back well into May. June and early July were also cold. Then the sun came out mid july and never stopped. By mid august we had a decent first round of honey and were starting to get optimistic. Then the sun took the rest of the year off and we had rain and unseasonably cold weather right through until freeze up.
The plan had been to build back up to our regular 1100-1200 colony count after last years disaster that brought us as low as 600 colonies mid-summer of 2013.
Because the weather was so poor in the spring, we didn’t get this done and I resorted to mid-season splits again this summer. Although that normally costs a lot of honey, i don’t think it did this year, because those hives wouldn’t have produced much late season honey anyway because of the inclement weather.
The high-point of the summer was actually taking a weekend off in august to get away to a fiddle event with my son Timmy in Saskatoon. I don’t think i’ve been away during august since i started beekeeping full time in the early 90’s. So that was nice.
The low-point was once again fighting with sick bees in the spring with cold weather. I think they could have shaken off whatever is bothering them better if the weather had been warm and calm instead of cool and windy. The provincial and federal bee poisoning experts were out to take samples of the bees, but nothing has come of that. I’m told the samples have never been analysed. It might be that there is no clear evidence for a cause of the bee problems, but its pretty clear they aren’t looking very hard.
I was offered a chance to help advise students in the U of Manitoba’s School of Agriculture Diploma Program. The course I’m involved with is really big picture and applied at the same time, which fits my approach nicely. The students are to bring all their knowledge of financial tools and agronomy together and apply it to their own farms. This isn’t necessarily easy. I’m to help with that somehow…
Continuing my previous commitments in the Faculty of Arts, Dept of Philosophy, together with the new ag duties means i’m now on campus 4 days a week Sept to April. This means winter projects will be limited this year.
I’m back on the board of BeeMaid honey filling in for a fellow beekeeper who has to look after himself first. I’m still on the board of the St. Norbert Farmers Market, and there are some exciting things going on there, including an building project and our online market: http://stnorbertfarmersmarket.ca/online.
I also invested a lot of time in a working group on small scale agriculture. As I write, the report is siting on the desk of Manitoba’s Minister of Agriculture. The next year will hopefully see some of our recommendations implemented.