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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Denali Highway, Alaska, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Yet another Alaskan...

    I formally joined last May, but spent 2009 reading - and trying to learn - as we have a task rather more formidable than most newbees face ahead of us.

    We live high in the Alaska Range, on one of Alaska's most legendary wilderness routes. After a dozen years here, we've decided to augment our malamutes and four dozen or so laying hens with a few thousand bees.

    Two colonies to start. As per advice of our Interior Alaskan bee guru, Stephen Peterson from Fairbanks, shortly we will receive two three-pound boxes of a Russian/Carniolan cross. I think the source is Hygienic, out of Vermont, but someone may correct me on that.

    Our climate here, judged on a year-round basis, is close to as brutal as any in Alaska until just south of the Arctic Ocean. We are at latitude 63N, and at about 3,000 feet. Not high by, say, Colorado standards but we are right below treeline and effectively no one lives permanently higher than this in the state.

    As of today, April 6, we have between one and two feet of snow cover remaining. Daytime highs now in the mid-20s to 30s, and nighttime lows have been in the high singles to teens. Our first budding will be the ubiquitous willows - here no more than shrubs and down to ground-hugging flowers. High nectar time is late July. Alaska's alpine tundra has as beautiful and varied a wildflower display as almost anywhere at that time.

    Our primo flower is fireweed - both dwarf (Epilobium latifolium) and tall (E. angustifolium) - with its deep purple pollen. Its late blossoming allows collecting of a relatively pure honey, and as appears from our research to be the case with other Alaskan beeks, this is the grail we, too, seek.

    Yes, we have bears, and a lot of them, here. Just a few black bears but lots of grizzlies. We live along the banks of one of the state's most prolific sockeye salmon streams, and the brownies all come around when the fish are spawning. In anticipation of that, as well as of our brutal winters, I have created a highly insulated, temperature-controlled room in which weplan to have our hives permanently placed. From what we've read, +38-40F for overwintering and about 70F in summer is what we should strive for - with good amount of air circulation. The bees will enter through separate tubes through the wall, one surrounded with a bright blue painted flower and one a yellow one, and a third tube will be an escape hatch for bees that leave the hive during inspections. I have the room illuminated with red lights, but I am leery of trying to identify eggs under that light!!!

    The building will thwart all critters from voles to bears - I have absolutely mouse-proofed the room and, my electrons willing, will circumvent temperature problems. The nearest honeybees are about 100 miles away - to our north, in Delta Jct, and to our south, around Kenny Lake and possible Glennallen. Mark C who introduced himself a few posts back is a little over 200 miles to the SW in Palmer. I know enough about this area to be able to say these will be the very first honeybees here in history; there also NEVER has been any agriculture, silviculture, or even spraying of road rights-of-way in just about as many miles. This land, then, from bees' perspective, is about as pure as any land remaining on the planet.

    Jeez, with all that going for them and us, what could possibly go wrong?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Palmer Alaska USA
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    Hi Alaska Ranger;
    I like the sounds of your building. It sounds much more high tech than what I use to winter in, then I am outside all summer. Hope it goes well for you there. Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,456

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    Welcome, I would like to see some pictures of that, or convince the wife to a road trip.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Quapaw OK USA
    Posts
    262

    Smile Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    Welcome to the Bee world. Please keep us posted haw things are going when you get your bees. Sounds like you are in ideal bee country.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Denali Highway, Alaska, USA
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    Oh, right. "Ideal" is the part I stressed in the first post. It got so long I forgot to mention what's probably the most challenging part: we have a really, REALLY short season!

    But I know that some twenty years ago, a researcher affiliated with the UAFairbanks, in a BP-sponsored program (=Bee Pollen?) experimented with a few hundred colonies all the way up at Prudhoe Bay.

    The only result of that program that I know of.....is that it isn't there any more....

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Malabar, FL
    Posts
    1,268

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    welcome, I love alaska been there several time hunting and fishing. Looking forward to getting back soon
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chester Co, PA, USA
    Posts
    269

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    WOW and welcome! My corgis(30lbs) best bud is a mal of 120lbs. I will look forward to seeing pictures of the beasts, birds and ,Of Course, Bees!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Madison, Alabama
    Posts
    356

    Default Re: Yet another Alaskan...

    Best of luck with your bees in such a harsh environment. I miss Alaska. Lived at Ft. Greely for a few years. Wonderful place.
    Rohe Bee Ranch "Free Range Bees"
    http://www.rohebeeranch.com

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