Aug. 18, 2022

End of Season Evaluations (087)

End of Season Evaluations (087)

Towards the end of the season, it’s a good idea to take a look at the equipment and other management tricks you’ve been using all summer while it’s still fresh in your mind. Today, Jim and Kim talk about how well the veils they use worked this...

Towards the end of the season, it’s a good idea to take a look at the equipment and other management tricks you’ve been using all summer while it’s still fresh in your mind. Today, Jim and Kim talk about how well the veils they use worked this summer, and the bee suits they occasionally wear (did you know a good way to wash a smokey, propolis covered bee suit is to use a pressure sprayer?) and is that old smoker good for another year, or not?

There’s a lot to consider… How’s your location working out? What about neighbors? Have they complained about your bees? Swimming pools got used a lot this year, and were your bees in the way?

Have you experienced animal pests? Mice, bear, racoons, skunks… are any or all of them giving your bees a problem? Will moving somewhere else help solve that?

Now’s the time to think about all this while it’s still fresh in your mind.

We hope you enjoyed today's episode. Please follow or subscribe today and leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you!


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Honey Bee Obscura is brought to you by Growing Planet Media, LLC, the home of Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott

Copyright © 2022 by Growing Planet Media, LLC


Honey Bee Obscura

Episode 87 – End of Season Evaluations


Kim: Hey, Jim, how's it going?

Jim: It's not bad. The season's winding down and not a great season, not a bad season.

Kim: It's getting the time of year now. My harvest is done. I'm now ready to put them to bed so I go back and I take a look at-- One of the things I check is my journal. I didn't do a great job on my journal this year. I wrote on two pages and at the top of one page I wrote gloves. The top of the other page I wrote the date. That's all I've got for the whole summer is those two pages. I thought it'd be a good time, especially since I got you here to look at some of the things that might come up that we can fix or change for next year now. What do you think?

Jim: I don't know how much I can help, but you know me. I'm always willing to try and put my neck out there.

Kim: Hi, I'm Kim Flottum.

Jim: I'm Jim Tew.

Kim: Today we're going to take a look at the things we do in beekeeping each year and evaluate whether or not they are effective. Right now is a good time to decide what to continue and what to leave behind.

Introduction: You are listening to Honey Bee Obscura brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today Podcast. Each week on Honey Bee Obscura, hosts, Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honeybees in today's world. Get ready for an engaging discussion to delight and inform all beekeepers. If you're a long-timer or just starting out, sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things honeybees.

Jim: I have had good luck with my veil. I'd like to compliment, in general, modern-day veil manufacturers. They've come a long way. I've got one of these unzip models so you can open it up and let more bees in. If you had some reason for wanting to do that. I know I want to get a drink of water or whatever, but being caught off guard with that question right now, I'm happy, specifically, with my veil equipment.

Kim: I got two kinds. I like them both. One of them is the BJ sherriff model that zips onto my suit. I wear that when the weather allows and it's not too hot and I'm going to be working bees fairly hard. I got one that's a cowboy hat with a veil that comes down far enough that I can put my arms through holes that are made for my arms and it snugs it around my back in the front. I just snug it shut. I've been good this year, but what about-- Do you use gloves at all ever?

Jim: I always have a pair of gloves under the seat of the truck. On those real bad days when something's not right, I don't know, the weather's bad, no flow, I may get them out then, but in general, I don't use gloves. I don't really honestly do vast amounts of bee work anymore. 5 or 10 or 15 colonies a day, and I'm maxed out. If I were a commercial guy, I'd have those gloves on all the time if you're seriously working bees. Just for me in my backyard, I'm not a glove person.

Kim: I'm pretty much the same. I've narrowed it down to dishwashing gloves. If my bees are going to be-- What's the word I want? I don't want aggressive, but my bees are going to be so defensive of my work, then those gloves don't work, then I'm being too rough with them and I need to get out and slow down.

Jim: I understand that.

Kim: How old's your smoker?

Jim: My smoker? My bee equipment is vintage. I'm trapped in time. What do you tell new beekeepers? You need to really be careful when you buy a piece of bee equipment because you might be using it 30 years. My smoker is pretty much like that. Sometimes I'm in a hurry, I leave it outside, it gets rained on so it starts to rust and the bellows wood ages, but my smoker is always of use. I am just terrified that you're going to tell me you clean yours out and maintain it and clean off the bellows so you don't scatter American foulbrood. Are you about to tell me that?

Kim: No. What I'm about to tell you is I cleaned it out maybe twice a year. This year I was cleaning it out with my hive tool and I got too aggressive. You know that plate that's on the bottom that keeps ashes off from the very bottom and the air comes in, I broke it. I'm not sure if I can fix it, but it looks like I'm probably going to get a new smoker this winter.

Jim: We've talked before on these segments. I just don't care for this smoke thing. I'm slightly asthmatic and I don't think all that smoke's good for me or the bees, but boy, I'll tell you, there's nothing else that really works. I know somebody's going to give a call now and say, "You've got to spray them with sugar syrup." If you're really working bees and you've got a big colony, that sugar syrup thing is just not going to do it. I don't want to argue with anyone, but let me just leave it like this. That doesn't work for me. I don't show my smoker their respect that it deserves.

Kim: Yours is going to end up like mine then. You're going to replace one in the last 30 years, but 25 of them will be for somebody else probably.

Jim: Oh, I didn't say they last 30 years. I just said I used mine 30 years. They're basically pieces of junk. They're those things you see in antique shops that people pay $50 for it because it's some worn-out smoker. I like the protective guard. I didn't mean to get off on smokers. I do like the protective guard on them. I like the big smoker. I don't use the small ones and I don't use those that don't have the shield on them. I use big stainless steel smokers and I use them a lot. They show wear and tear and I just keep using them.

Kim: I'm basically the same. I had to run an errand yesterday and I had to drive the way I drove to work every day for 33 years. Every year, there's a field that I drive by that's about five miles from here that is solid golden rod, every year, every year. I got a three-acre field behind me, belongs to my neighbor and I can see some golden rod out there, but he keeps mowing it a couple of three times in the summer. That just pretty much does it in. I'm wondering, now's a good time. If you're thinking of maybe moving your bees or your neighbor's giving you a hard time or you're getting more colonies or something for next year, start looking for a place this year that you know is going to be good. That makes sense?

Jim: It does make sense. I'm going to have to do that very thing. Before I charge into this, can I get my thoughts lined up? Let's take a break here from our sponsor.

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Jim: Kim, I've talked over and over again about this housing subdivision going in literally 150 yards behind me. My bees will separate me from that housing yard. The most I ever had back there was 15, but I'm going to have to cut that back to 3 or 5 or 15, I don't know, depending on everything, I guess. I just don't know what the future holds here, but I do need another yard closer by and that in itself is a segment. How do you find one? What do you give people? Are there gates? All the things that are asked. You are exactly right. I was really happy with the way things are, but nothing stays the same. Does it, Kim?

Kim: Boy, I wish.

Jim: I'll be looking for a yard but I'm going to wait till the snow's on the ground and I'm in a different place than I am right now mentally about that.

Kim: That field of golden rod reminded me that if I'm thinking of moving for any reason, now's the time to start looking. In fact, what was in that field in March, April, May, June, and July are also.

Jim: The way you say now, just stop, just stop. Just stop. You keep hurting me because this housing subdivision going in behind me is what, Kim? It was a field of golden rod. It's about to be cul-de-sac and paved streets and landscape, ponds and whatever. Right now it's a field of golden rod but it's not going to stay that way.

Kim: And swimming pools, probably.

Jim: Yes, not for me, but for some people.

Kim: It's going to be an issue with neighbors. In that field, I'm going to bet that right now that field is supporting all manner of things that eat gardens and harass bee hives and get in your house. Mice and rabbits and skunks and whatever, living out there now without any problem at all. Pretty soon, where are they going to go when that subdivision opens up next spring?

Jim: You're talking to me, aren't you? I'm supposed to step in this and say, "Oh, my stars. right when you think I can't host anywhere mice or anywhere raccoons." "Yes, you can. You can host a lot more." [laughter]

But it's mice, Kim. I hate mice. I know every creature has its place in the ecosystem but we just seem to have plenty of mice in my life here. They're in the equipment that I don't have on the bees outside, and I just simply cannot store equipment inside and keep the mice out, unless you're just going to go to great extremes, to be sure there is not a single crevice that they can get in. Mice and raccoons are my perpetual nemesis in my personal yard drop behind me right here.

Kim: Oof, I get mice in my garage where I store my stuff and in the chicken coop where I keep my chickens once in a while. Chickens keep them down there, but the mice in the garage can-- I've got bee suits that you wouldn't dare wear anymore because of the holes in them from mice.

Jim: I got to jump in that one. I had to give up. In my storage barn, I can't put anything paper or cloth in that barn that's not in a heavy plastic Tupperware type rubber, plastic container. Everything back there, paper or cloth, a towel, a roll of paper towel, my bee suits has to be in a plastic container that's mouse proof, or those animals will tear it up, defecate on it, cut holes in it, build nest in it. They're just obnoxious. You can send them to heaven, but there's plenty more moving rod in taking over.

Kim: Yes. That's the problem. Like we started this out, now is the time to take a look at your operation, your location, the tools that you use, and the equipment that you've been using and it's still fresh in your mind. Do I want the same thing next year? Can I fix it? Can I make it better? Can I make it bigger, smaller, lighter, heavier, whatever. Right now you know how much a hive cover weighs. You can visualize that in your mind.

Jim: Yes.

Kim: Come February next spring, that image and that realization of how heavy that hive cover weighs is going to be different than it is right now. Maybe you should be looking at a different kind of hive cover, and there are different kinds out there. There's the big old wooden ones and there's the newer, lighter weight, more functional plastic ones that you can get at various supply stores. All of your equipment, now is the time to look at it, I think, and is this what I want next year?

Jim: That's right. When I listen to you talk, Kim, my mind just races, as much as my old mind can race. What do you do with the old equipment you've got? You want to replace that heavy wooden cover that's showing some wear and some rut, and you get a nice new plastic cover or a wooden cover, whatever you get. What do you do with the old one?


Kim: I put them on top of the old boxes I haven't gotten rid of yet either.

Jim: I'll tell you what I do is you just strategically aim the camera so it doesn't show that stack of equipment, that if it sits there long enough, like me, it's going to be young again and usable again. Just let it sit there. One day, who knows? I might cut that equipment down and make a new cut of it or something. Beekeeper, if you just acquire equipment. It's not like one day you go out and it's just dissolved. No, there's some remnant of that old equipment that you've got to do something with.

It just makes my yard look so abandoned, so unsightly to see that old stuff sitting around. I guess you burn it. It's a personality type, isn't it? There's people listening who think, "Just put it at the street. Throw it away, burn it. What's the problem?" I don't know. You just think, "Maybe I can use that. That cover could get another year out of it. I'll put it over here." Then that's just me. That's just my personality.

Kim: I think we've covered enough of this giving people some ideas, I hope. I told you when we started this. I had two pages in my journal, and I think what I need is an easier journal to use next year. I'm going to start there.

Jim: I don't use a journal. I know what I should be doing, Kim. I don't need a journal to make me feel guilty. I know exactly what I should be doing. I'm going to wash my bee suit too. Do you ever wash your bee suit?

Kim: Can you?

Jim: Pause, pause. Do you hear that listeners, that long pause? About once a year, twice a year. I usually got my pressure washer out for cleaning equipment or cleaning an extractor or something, and I'll blast my bee suit with that pressure washer. This is a good time of the year. If you're getting off that last bit of honey, to hang that suit outside and give it a good washing because you're not going to want to run it through your own personal washing machine. I don't know about using commercial machines. Add that to the list of things I'm probably never going to do, but it's a good time to maintain my bee suits too.

Kim: That'd be a good idea. I've never washed a bee suit so I don't know. I'll keep that in mind. It's getting long here. You got to run. Take some notes, see what you're going to do because next year's going to be here before you know it.

Jim: I understand that. I'll do my best, buddy.

Kim: All right.

Jim: I'll do my best. Thanks for listening everybody. Kim, thanks for talking to me again. I always enjoy it.

Kim: We'll catch you later.

Jim: Bye-bye.

[00:15:59] [END OF AUDIO]