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Springtime in the Beeyards

Springtime in the Beeyards

Ever wondered what it's like when the time has come for a beekeeper to open his beehives? OnSugar blog Campbell's Honey details this year's honey harvest.

Holidays in the sun are over, it's time to open the beehives, and get started on a new honey season. This spring, instead of walking through muddy farmer's fields, and wading in the mud, we're driving down grassy lanes, through dry barnyards, to unpack the hives, and liberate the honeybees. Last fall we packed each colony in a heavy commercial plastic bag that was pulled down over the hive, and a breathing hole punched in the top, just under the top cover, to vent the moisture from the colony.

Find out how honeybees are faring this season when you read more.

In the springtime each year the plastic bags are lifted off and recycled, and the colonies are hefted to estimate the feed honey remaining in the brood chambers. After that a spoonful of Terramycin is spread on the top bars to ward off the dreaded American Foul Brood.

Last spring we suffered a 30% death rate in the beeyards, and we had to work extra hard manipulating the colonies to refill those dead hives in time to make bees strong enough to gather a honey crop. We succeeded in doing this, but the weather was too cool and wet, and at season's end we still had less than half a crop.

After opening my first 93 colonies, I find only a normal 10% winter loss. These empty hives will be easy to refill. Hopefully the weather will cooperate this summer, and the wildflowers in the fields and meadows of Southern Ontario will yield a record-breaking bumper crop of delicious Canadian honey.

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