Busy August At Brookfield Farm

It’s been busy.   No time to head for the library (WiFi land) and spend time on the Internet.  Thus this posting is a hodge-podge of what has been happening from making bee gear and creating new bee yards to participating in some really interesting bee related science.

GOATS, DOGS, AND EQUIPMENT

It was a hot July – wonderful for the bees.  The girls kept bringing in nectar, making honey, and raising more bees.  I rapidly began to run out of equipment.  I would build 4000 frames, then need to make more.  I tired to enlist the aid of my “kids”.

One seemed interested, but overwhelmed by the gear.

4 month old goat kid and bee keeping gear

 

The other felt his role should be quality control supervisor.

Baby goat sits in bee hive frame assembly jig

 

One dog decided that he could put his services to use by overseeing my wiring of frames.

Maremma watches over bee frame wiring

 

I must admit the view from my wiring table is lovely.

Trees beyond Beekeeper Karen Bean's frame wiring area

Alders, Wild Cherries, and Cascara

BEE HEALTH SURVEY

I’ve now completed 3 samples for the beeinformed.org bee heath survey.

BeeInformed.org bee hive id tag at Brookfield Farm Bees and Honey, Maple Falls, WA

hive 5 of 8 Brookfield Farm hives in test

Results from the first 2 are in and it is interesting to see the varroa load go up (June), then down a bit (July) – which I assume is following the brood build up.  Nosema did the same – dropping to zero for most in July.  It was a really hot July.  I am really interested to see the varroa loads on the most recent test as I tested different levels of Stratiolaelaps scimitus mitesin four of the hives.

Stratiolaelaps scimitus mites

These little darlings kill Varroa mites.

Container of mites that kill varroa mites

I heard about their availability through the Mt. Baker Beekeepers AssociationI bought a jar and tried them out.  Normally they are used against thrips in greenhouses.  The downside is that they breed in the ground, not in the hive.  So once they hit the wire floor, they may go away.  I will write more about them when the test results arrive in September.

AMERICAN FOUL BROOD PHAGE TESTS

The field-testing of phages that attack AFB isolated by Dr. Penny Amy and Diane Yost of the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, has now been completed.

Viral Phages that attack American Foul Brood

Vials of Phages. One reconstituted in syrup. One still dehydrated.

I’d love to say ‘it works!!!” But that’s not how science operates.  The hive still had AFB.  They are running tests on the samples that were sent during the field test.  All information is good, and they can build on what they have learned.  I will say that the hive is really quite strong – some bees obviously survive.  So I’m running my own little test on it.  I’ll write more on that when I know more.

NEW BEE YARDS

I was lucky to find two new bee yards within two miles of my two existing breeding yards.  Things must work well in “two’s” for me.  One is quite small with only 2 hives (that two thing continues).  The other has four hives, but is quite large, for me.  The bear fence surrounds about 900 square feet (83.5 square meters).

A wonderful woman is working the land to create a garden for her family and the local food bank, with an eye to creating a nature-educational area.  She liked the idea of bees, but I was worried about the people visiting.  Then she showed me her hill “over the creek”.  Acres of tall grass on rolling hills.

I scythed the grass, put up a bear fence, made four splits and introduced 4 queens.  Sounds quick?  Took me ages.

Tall grass being cut at a bee yard

I like the view – the bees like the mountain forage

 

Post driver on metal t-post

the “joys” of fencing

Bee hives behind solar powered bear fence, NW Washington

hives installed, fence powered, bees flying

MARKETS & FESTIVALS

July and August are the big market and festival month here.  So I was at one or the other each weekend.  My husband makes furniture

RendezvousBench72

He too had a lot of festivals to attend, so our days were busy.

WALKING WILD with dog and goats, of course

I admit, I moved here to Whatcom County, Washington because it’s in the wilderness and I love to hike.  So every week I take one day off and head into the mountains.

Mt. Baker, and a little dog

Our little dog at Mt. Baker

Right now most of the high routes are still under snow, but September’s coming and that’s when the high snow melts.  Then you can find me, along with my hiking dog and pack goats on the ridges and mountains.

Brookfield Farm packgoat and wildflowers at Mt Baker WA

Yes, he does eat the flowers.

ALL CAUGHT UP

At least it feels that was for this moment.  But along with those September walks comes harvesting honey and preparing the bees for winter.  So I should say, a brief moment of rest in the lovely August weather.

That’s the news from Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey in Maple Falls, Washington.  What have you been up to in these summer months (or winter days, if you’re south of the equator)?

A BRIEF NOTE ABOUT WHY I “DISAPPEAR” FROM THE WEB

A few people have noted that I often post then disappear.  My apologies for that, but it’s my location.  I live in an area with no WiFi, no cable, and, now, no dial-up.  There is no mobile (cell) service here.  We are the land that technology forgot – which is usually quite nice.  To post I drive 45 minutes to a library, or work from the front of my pick-up outside the local gas station, which has WiFi.  So I do disappear, from the web.  But from spring to fall you can usually find me in a bee yard or up some mountain trail.

About Bean

I am the beekeeper at Brookfield Farm Bees And Honey, near Maple Falls, Washington. My bees fly from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives in the foothills of Mt. Baker (the second most glaciated volcano in Washington). I sell the raw honey my bees make, as well as honey produced by Washington beekeepers who are friends - the emphasis is on raw honey from naturally treated, antibiotic-free hives. I also make and sell Raw Honey Infusions (Ginger, Lavender, and Vanilla Bean; Raw Honey Infused Organic Vinegars; and Beeswas Salves. You can find me or my husband at Seattle's Fremont Market and at Bellingham's Farmers Market. When not with the bees, you'll most likely meet me up some mountain trail, pinhole camera and digital camera slung over my shoulders, and my pack goats trailing behind me.
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