It's that time of the year again, just done with honey harvest. It was a good harvest, though spring was late and cool and wet.
Coming out of winter, I had 22 hives, all doing reasonably, some better than others naturally. Lost one in the spring, one in the summer. The first one absconded (or CCD if you're so inclined) and the second failed to requeen after a swarm. Neither was I bummed to lose.
I don't know how many nucs I produced in total, they were coming and going, being combined and dissolved, and used to requeen. I don't honestly know how many hives I have right now. I think I have 32, four of which are nucs whose queens I would like to sell this evening.
Things I've learned this year as how much better the queens will turn out if you are more attentive to adding fresh open brood to the cell building box with the Ben Harden Method. I'm also learning to become more efficient as I now have a full time job and don't have some of the free time being a college student affords.
My honey harvest was record for me, in number of hives, pounds per hive, and total volume produced. From six hives, I harvested over 27 gallons netting around 55 pounds per colony. Now you might think that's a little low, but look at the date. This is all the honey I'm getting because that's all that is available. There's no honey for the rest of the year. We don't have any more here, probably one of the reasons there are no commercial beekeepers for miles and miles. For comparison, a nearby friend got 11 gallons out of 3 hives.
I'm very happy to be making a profit, even able to buy boxes rather than making them these days. My wife and I have a deal that my beekeeping profits go toward my renewable energy hobbies and currently I'm working on a wood gasifier. I plan to be off grid by 40 which will be a little more fun considering I drive an electric car, so I need significantly more generation. Suffice it to say, I am actually making money on treatment-free bees!
I also was invited to give a presentation at the NEOBA monthly meeting in June. I was told I was tremendously popular which was indicated by only a couple people walking out before the meeting was over. I'd post my presentation, but since I do my presentations almost completely from memory, it probably wouldn't help much. It may have been videoed, I don't know. It was about the Ben Harden Method of queen rearing, how small time beekeepers could produce a few queens without upsetting major portions of their hives. I also advocated mini-cooperatives where people can help each other out.
The plan for the rest of the summer is to ignore the bees. That's usually how it goes around here. Check every once in a while to collect the deadouts before the moths mess them up too bad. And I need to put all those boxes together and paint them. Time to sell some honey. This year's price is $20/qt.
How's your summer?