A Very Spooky Fireside 🕷
I love this time of year.
No.....really. I LOVE this time of year. Fall brings a beauty to the land like no other season. I hate the heat of summer ( spend a few hours in a thick denim bee suit in the hot august sun and you will too...) and the cool weather lets you sleep with windows open, and no A/C drying the hell out of the house. Wasps are pretty much gone, gardening is finished, and the bees are ready for bed.
Thanksgiving at the farm was another blessing to be truly grateful for. Grandkids and great grandparents and an excellent meal really makes you appreciate the things we should never take for granted. Halloween around the corner draws me to the doorstep of the last bee chores of the season before I can focus on other things. November first is a benchmark on when bees get wrapped or put inside the wintering sheds. Everyone is looking healthy and heavy going into winter. This year was a half decent spring, and a average crop. Nothing at all to complain about compared to the last few years, and I'll be happy to have a few average seasons under my belt after 2022 and 2021.
Still, lots happening in the bee world these days. Cheap honey is flooding Europe and North America from India. This is usually blended with some Canadian honey and heavily discounted counterfeiting the cheap offshore product and making large profits for multinational corporations. Risk assessment with counterfeit honey includes a potential presence of unlicensed antibiotics and mite treatment chemicals not registered in Canada. Not to mention added sugar and heavy metals depending on the pollution levels of the producing regions. Remember: Safe, pure, good quality honey has a value that is established relative to the cost incurred to produce it. Cheap honey definitely requires cut corners somewhere in the supply chain and your best interests are not at heart. No one eats discount sushi, or egg salad sandwiches from a gas station with solid faith in food safety. Know where your food comes from, because nefarious importers and packing housed rely on your suspension of belief. They care about your wallet, not about your health. Or your children's.
Dry Spooky beekeeper content follows:
On a happy note, researchers have developed an American Foulbrood vaccine for honeybees. AFB was the boogeyman for beekeepers in my grandfathers time, and has been kept at bay with modern treatments that suppress the condition. A vaccine would practically remove it from the environment and spare attention and resources to other dangers like varroa mites (link) and the emerging hive beetle (link) that are major threats to beekeeping operations in the province. Apparently the approval for use and distribution has cleared the last hurdles with the Canadian Food Inspection agency (CFIA) and may be on the market as soon as next spring.
Speaking of my governing overlords who's infinite wisdom guides me through the Honey-Verse........(take that as sarcastically a you like.... I appreciate the necessary role they play but bureaucracy can be frustrating...)
The C.F.I.A (link) has been asked by the Canadian Honey Council on behalf of all of the provincial beekeeping organizations to to a risk assessment review in examining reopening the American border to allow the importing of packaged honey bees. Now to a non beekeeper this is as stimulating a watching paint dry, but as a beekeeper it's a polarized issue between factory farming "Box fillers" who care little for animal husbandry and those who actually have a soul.
Too harsh? Perhaps but I don't practice apiculture with a profit spreadsheet as my moral compass. Allowing import of packaged bees from the U.S.A allow negligent beekeepers to compensate poorly managed operations a way to run on thin profit margins if they run enough colonies. This is the definition of factory farming and I cannot in good conscious accept the procative of running bees to death for maximum honey profits. Yes, there are special circumstances where high loss winters, which we had two springs ago, would have mitigated impact with access to American packages. However special dispensation and temporary exception of the border ban should regulate those special circumstances, not broad policy changes. Packaged bees are a step towards allowing importing full colonies or Nucs and as soon as that is ratified we will have semi truck loads of pollinators traveling into Manitoba to compete with local producers. Already huge American beekeepers amass countless thousands of colonies at the North Dakota border. A foothold into our territories should not be discounted as a overly exaggerated threat. This would decimate our honey production and relinquish another sector of Canada's agricultural output.
Time for pumpkin spice honey, pumpkin pie and renegade beekeepers masquerading as trick or treaters When the season is done the time between fall and snow fall drives apiarists to mischief.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Pesky chocolate seaking reprobates......read the last part of our halloween article and know what faces you at the end of the month.
Did you know: Great food and drink start with the very best ingredients! The kitchens of The Silver Heights Restaurant, Thermea Spa, and the local brewery Little Brown Jug subscribe to this truth, and the deliciousness they produce proves how right they are. Support these local business as they help support us!
Thank you for reading, subscribing, and being part of the good things we make. ( especially if its the fun eating part!)
Speaking of Little Brown Jug, I'll be enjoying a LBJ Golden Ale on the premises on November 3rd between 7:30 and the time of my arrest. ( Joking! The wife would literally kill me, and not quickly either.)
If you wish to join me for an "AMA" or "Ask me anything" Id be glad to have the company. Come prepared with a dad joke. If you make me chuckle, I'll buy you a Golden ale, made with John Russell Honey!
Untill then, take care and happy halloween!