Our operation consists of mainly Carniolan (Karnica) and Buckfest breeds of honeybees. We try to look for the hardiest and strongest breeds of bees that can survive the long winters in Wisconsin.
The characteristics we look for are:
-Low varroa mite counts
-Bees that will reduce population sizes in the fall
- Bees that form small, tight clusters to maintain heat during the cold months
-Bees that do not consume large amounts of honey which would lead to starvation
- Bees that are big honey producers
-Gentle or "mild" natured bees
Every year we are constantly learning something new with our operation. Mother Nature, the bees, and even us as beekeepers are always changing which makes each year new and a challenge. At the end of every year we sit down to assess the things we did right and wrong along with what goals we have for our operation in the new year.
Beekeeping is hard and can be very tough at times, but it is also extremely rewarding. Like many other industries in agriculture, beekeeping is a lifestyle that you learn and adapt to.
At a beekeeping conference, a speaker once said "those of you who have bees in the north have the advantage of mother nature weeding out your weakest hives so only the strongest make it through." We have found this to be true in our experiences. If you can get bees through the the winter, once the dandelions start to bloom, you will have a difficult time keeping those bees in your boxes!
An apiary or bee yard is the location where the honeybee colonies are kept in the hives by a beekeeper. We usually only keep between 24-28 hives in one specific location which means we need multiple different bee yards to place all of our hives.
This is the structure or "box" used for housing the honeybee colony.
This is a box placed above the bottom brood box to either increase the brood chamber or store honey during the honey flow.
Metal container with attached bellows which burns fuel to generate smoke. The smoke generated is blown around bees to control aggressive behavior while working the bees. When bees smell smoke, they sense a "fire" and will gorge or eat honey.
Mechanical device used to extract honey from the honeycomb without destroying the comb. Extractors work by centrifugal force. A drum or container holds the frame basket which spins, flinging the honey out.
Eggs, larvae, and pupae of all castes in the bee colony these are the young, developing bees of the hive.