New Website for the Cape Breton Organic Beekeepers’ Coop

May 15, 2011

Please see the new website for the

Cape Breton Beekeepers’ Cooperative at www.cbobc.ca

Arkandor Splits 2010

June 16, 2010

A strong start to the beekeeping season here on Cape Breton Island! Wayne Boudreau of Arkandor on Boularderie Island had assistance from CBOBC Chairperson Dennis Laffan and myself in conducting a number of hive splits these past two weeks.

A week ago, Dennis and I dropped in to check up on Wayne’s hives and found a very encouraging sight. All seven of his hives had come through the winter in style and had launched themselves full tilt at the local dandelion, blueberry and clover flowers. Six of the seven hives were obviously prime for splits being packed full with honey, pollen, potential queen cells, workers, drones and healthy laying queens.

A week on, Wayne now has seven strong and queen-right hives plus six promising “nuc” hives showing queen rearing activity. He is really enthusiastic about the goals of the Cape Breton Organic Beekeeping Co-operative (CBOBC) and has made it clear that he, with his new hive additions, is interested in supplying new and existing beekeepers.

Reports from beekeepers elsewhere across the Island have been overwhelmingly positive with 90% of hives making it through the winter.

And more good news! As of two weeks ago, all resident Cape Breton beekeepers are Varroa mite free! Over the rest of the season, the CBOBC hopes to organize an effort to double and triple check for mite on the Island and have the provincial bee inspector officially confirm Cape Breton’s mite free status!

Then on to the big challenge of making our mite-free status sustainable! Hoorah!

Wayne's hives at Arkandor

Dennis works one of Wayne's larger hives

Wayne and Dennis checking for swarm cells

Dennis points out a capped swarm cell

Dennis working Wayne's blueberry field hive (left) and nuc

Winding Down

October 7, 2009

Well, the honey season at North River Organics has pretty well wrapped up.

Last week Dennis pulled six frames of ripe honey from the strongest hives and ran them through his manual 2-frame extractor to produce 25lbs of sweet, liquid gold. The honey haul this year was very low in comparison to last years’ – most likely as a result of efforts to expand hive numbers and requeen some existing hives.

While there are crops still in flower, Dennis has started all his hives on an intensive sugar-syrup feeding regime. The honey the bees produce from the syrup is no good for the table, but is exactly what they need to see them through the winter.

Finally, once the hard frosts arrive, the bees will “cluster”. They will need all the help they can get to keep the hive temperature stable through the winter – the hives will be moved close together and wrapped with rigid insulation and tar paper.

On oilseed radish

On oilseed radish
1

On broccoli

The extracted frames sit on top the middle hive.

The extracted frames sit on top the middle hive

A light amber honey, butter-sweet, with a long, smooth finish.

North River organic: a light amber honey, butter-sweet, with a long, smooth finish

Photo Update

August 16, 2009
1

Leek

3

North River Organics, upper field

2

Zucchini

5

...and with a little help from the bees

4

Potato

Beeing Calm at Windhorse Farm

July 10, 2009

July 3rd though 5th I attended a natural beekeeping seminar, hosted by Ross Conrad, at Windhorse Farm near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Ross is a successful American organic beekeeper and is the author of the only book out there on organic beekeeping! Over the course of the weekend he discussed a huge range of beekeeping topics from basic equipment to bee diseases to the healing properties of honey and the use of top bar hives.  But by far the most impressive practice he promotes is the tending of bees without a bee suit of any kind. While he uses a smoker, much of his calm around bees comes from a deep respect for the place the bee occupies in the environment and for the beauty of hive produce.  His work as a beekeeper is as much a meditative practice as it is a job; bees are highly sensitive to the energy around them and are almost always a pleasure to work with if you are a calm and centred beekeeper.

I shouldn’t forget to mention how memorable a backdrop for the seminar Windhorse Farm was. Amazing local/organic food and comfortable accommodations (including a wood-fired sauna) were some highlights. The overall precision and creativity with which the farm is run was hard to overlook.

Chris, Windhorse Farm's resident gardener, shows us around.

Chris, Windhorse Farm's resident gardener, shows us around.

Workin' a hive

Workin' a hive

Practicing Ross' relaxed beekeeping technique.

Practicing Ross' relaxed beekeeping technique.

Chasing the queen bee

Chasing the queen bee

Ross Conrad passing on experience

Ross Conrad passes on experience

CBOBC Queen Cell Grafting Tutorial

June 28, 2009

Saturday, June 27th, I attended a queen cell grafting instructional lead by living legend Frank Kober. Originally from Austria, Frank is a long time Cape Bretoner and expert beekeeper. He played an important role in promoting the implementation of restrictions on the importation of honey bees into Nova Scotia.

A colourful bunch!

A colourful bunch!

Frank extracting an egg for placement into royal jelly and queen cell cup

Frank extracting an egg for placement into royal jelly and queen cell cup

Photo Update, North River Organics

June 26, 2009
Splitting a hive

Splitting a hive

Home

Home

The wild one

The wild kind

"Elements"

"Elements"

5

North River Organics

June 15, 2009
The strawberry patch

The strawberry patch

Asparagus

Asparagus

Closed for the day: Fireweed is a bee favorite!

Closed for the day: Hawkweed! is a bee favorite!

The potatoe planter

The potatoe planter

Trip Ends and Update

June 6, 2009

It’s been a couple days since my arrival at the northern end of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. By far the most exciting part of the trip was the ride up the Cabot Trail, with its wicked twists and turns and steep climb up Cape Smokey. I’ve started my WWOOF experience at North River Organics, and a part time job across from the farm at the Chanterelle Inn. There’s lots of new information coming at me, but as things settle in there’ll be more about the goings on out here!

Atop Cape Smokey, 220m above sea level.

Atop Cape Smokey, 220m above sea level.

Another good day

June 2, 2009

I’m in Sackville, N.B. now, having knocked off almost 800km today. A rather unremarkable day (which is often a good thing when traveling by motorcycle). Higher temperatures and clear skies and roads made for easy cruising. On to Cape Breton tomorrow!

The RCI radio transmission station outside of Sackville, N.B.

The RCI radio transmitter station outside of Sackville, N.B.

buggy wuggy

buggy wuggy