A drive through the Okanagan wine country causes the unfamiliar eye to survey the land and comment on the sameness of it all. The grey blue sage against sand coloured hills seem indistinguishable, changing only with the light of the day and parted by vineyards running against the grain. From 35,000 feet above, one could pass judgement, and be wrong about the subtleties below. It looks like a desert down there.
A more skilled eye; that of a vintner, is able to see the variation. At ground level she can check the soil for alkalinity; consider the direction and slope of the landscape; the sunlight and how it strikes the land. She can assess the drainage and at an even subtler level, the moisture left by dew in the morning. All these factors and more will be considered when the vintner determines what vines to plant and then how cultivate them over the growing season. So many opinions on what to do and when. So many decisions – and each vintner will arrive at a different decision. And over the course of a season, some will be successful and some not.
The beekeeper and the vintner have much to think. We have to consider the terroire; the foundation of our honey. What forage exists and when? How much sun will fall on the hive? Which ways do prevalent winds blow and what is the likelihood that frost or snow will strike early or late. We need to consider the micro-climates that exist within our own neighbourhoods or the neighbourhoods of our bee livestock. Which plants are bee friendly and also which offer nectar; which offer pollen and which offer both. It’s March and we need to take a survey of the land, as we get ready to manage the colonies percolating in our hives.
For those who were able to attend Wendi Gilson’s presentation on bee diseases, the benefit will be a greater confidence when assessing and treating potential threats throughout the season. We still have some thinking and experimenting to do in order to respond to the late season surge of wasps and hornets. Getting the wasp queen traps up early will be key because every queen caught in the next few weeks is one less nest to contend with. Thank you Wendi for giving your time on a weekend to share your knowledge.
Wendi will be meeting with new bee keepers at our March meeting to walk through the life cycle of the worker bee – a very useful foundational piece for every keeper in understanding the impact of our actions on the hive.
Last year in March we experienced the first swarms of the season. Much too early, we thought. Carolyn Hissen will address how to reduce the prospect of swarms in your own hives by understanding the drivers behind the swarm and the steps you can take. Nothing is more frustrating than have one’s patience through winter rewarded with half the hive scarpering off into the trees!
It’s also time to check the equipment and using Werner’s example, and perhaps, bang a few boxes together, yourself. A falling dollar, changes in the industry and changes in box dimensions, may be enough to persuade you to count your fingers and then cut your own boxes.
Yes. It’s Spring. So get out there and get the lay of the land.