Everyone I need to sadly report that our maple season lasted 6 days. The long winter and the quick shift to 70 deg weather followed by no nights below freezing led us to shut down the sugarhouse. The sap we got this past week was bad, so we couldn’t use it for production.
Needless to say we have no syrup to sell. The wee bit of syrup we did produce was super dark, some of the darkest syrup I’ve ever seen.
Let’s hope Mother Nature is kinder to us next year so we can fully utilize the improvements we have made for the 2019 season.
Right now we are preparing the hives for more bee’s. The old hives are getting touched up with new paint & art and the electric fence was tested today.
Hi Everyone. I know it’s been a while since we have provided an update. Needless to say it’s been a long cold winter and the sap just started flowing this past week. Right now we are about 3.5 weeks behind last year and we just started boiling the sap this weekend.
To give you an idea of how much snow we had this winter as of this morning we still have 2’+ in the front yard and there is still some snow left on the sugar home roof. We spent most of the weekends this winter up at Smugglers Notch skiing and as of last check they received 371″+ of snow. Yes that is over 30 feet of snow this winter.
For 2019 we are attempting to be more efficient with at the addition of a reverse osmosis machine. This allows us to increase the sugar content of the sap before boiling. Thru this process we extract excess water from the sap and create more concentrated sap to boil. This saves us both time and wood for the evaporator.
We will be updating the site more often as boiling and production continues. Thanks for your patience. 😁
Today it warmed up to 36 degrees and we still have so much snow on the ground. We took today as an opportunity to open up the hives quickly and feed the bees.
The twins helped Mama assemble the sugar boards. First we braced the bottoms of the boards; then laid foundation paper across the bottom (the bees will clean this out). Each board got a pre-made pollen patty. Then we packed moist sugar into the boards. The mason jars were used to leave a hole left for ventilation.
Finally we went up to the bee yard and Eric shoveled it all out. Sadly we do not have good news to report. Both hives appear to have died.
The right hive was our stronger hive going into winter (Beeonce’s). The cedar shavings we added seemed dry and were doing their job with moisture. I popped off the inner cover and there were a lot of dead bees in a cluster; my best guess is they starved. There is a small chance there could be live bees because we did not take out any frames to find out of there was a smaller cluster. We could not hear any buzzing. To be hopeful we left the sugar board on. 🤞🏻
The left hive (Britney Beech) wasn’t a huge surprise. This was a weak hive with very little food stores. We did make sure we left enough extra food for them. It’s possible they died earlier in the winter. They did not touch the food we left them in the top super. Eric did notice it was wet inside; likely a condensation issue with this hive.
My Beekeeping mentor is having a workshop in the near future on autopsy die outs. We hope to learn more definitive information. There are so many lessons to be learned in beekeeping whether it goes in our favor or not.
We will definitely tweak our process for next year. We plan to add Saskatraz Bees. They are gentle (great for the bee allergy), super honey producers, known for their overwintering ability and resistance to mites and brood diseases. They will be here April 28th! We have lots of work to do to get ready for them.
But for new Sugaring season is almost here! Maple Syrup anyone?? 🍁
Twin Bears Maple Works is going to be doing a limited run of holiday ‘Vermont Breakfast’ gift baskets. The basket will include: 1 pint of our 2018 Maple Syrup (medium amber), 14oz of our freshly roasted whole bean Holiday Blend coffee (medium roast) and the ever-awesome organic pancake mix from Rogers Farmstead. Add some bacon and you have a perfect Vermont Breakfast.
We will be taking orders and shipping based on requested delivery dates. Please allow us a few days lead time from the date you place your order till the date it ships. We are roasting the beans as orders are placed and just finishing the last of syrup bottling.
Gift baskets will be $30 and the USPS Flat rate shipping is $12. Baskets will come in holiday packing and the shipping quote applies for CONUS addresses. We will include holiday cards with your personal message for those folks sending this as a gift. Please message us with any questions.
Hey all! Sorry it’s been so long since we have posted. It’s been quite rainy in Vermont and lots of obscure sickness at the homestead. Thankfully we are on the up and up!
We started preparing for winterizing last month. We built quilt boards and candy shims. On Saturday October 6th we started by reversing the bottom boxes on the hives; you want the heavier box on the bottom so the bees work their way up in the winter. Once they go up they do not go back down to the cold for any honey left. We also placed heaters our friend Scott sent to us to help with winters sub zero temperatures. Below are some pictures of that day. I also included a photo of the most epic bee-sting we affectionally call BEEtox. That bee stung me right though my veil. It made for one entertaining evening at the house!
The beginning of the quilt boards. I’ll explain them more soon but the candy shims look a lot like this as well. We won’t use them until the end of January/early February to feed the bees some more.
I promised back in July to talk about mites and why we treat for them. We treated in July, late August and while winterizing. When honey bees are infested with mites its like walking around with a rabbit on your back. Now imagine if you had to carry around more than one rabbit on your back all day? This YouTube video explains why we treat for mites, diseases that come with them and the worst case scenario; entire comply collapse. The great news about treating for mites is there are organic options available that won’t harm us, the bees or the honey.
These shop towels were placed on top of the the second from the bottom large deep hive.
The next step in winterizing was to make sure the bees have enough to eat. We mixed B-Pro (a pollen substitute) in the center of the plastic frames. Then filled the rest with a thick sugar and water mixture.
Each hive got two of these plastic frames in the medium size deep which we placed them on the outer edges.
Next was the quilt boards. Bees biggest threat in the winter is not the cold but moisture that builds up in the hive. They have 1/2 inch metal screening on the bottom (Sorry I didn’t get a photo). The boxes were then filled with cedar shavings to absorb moisture. In the center is a small piece of pvc to create a chimney for moisture to escape the sides. On top of the chimney piece is foam insulation. The insulation has a hole to hold the pvc piece and some of the center carved out for ventilation.
Finally we stapled on tar paper to help with blocking the winter winds and put a piece of wood on top to block snow build up. We then secured it down with a strap and put a cinder block on top.
Here’s to hoping we make it though our first winter ❄️ 🐝 Bee well!
Hey all! Sorry we have been missing in action. We have been busy bees and enjoying our first summer as Vermonters!
We added a girl to Twin Bears Maple Works. Say hello to Lucy!
Momma Bear went back to school and Papa Bear celebrated a birthday! Memeré and Peperé visited from Florida. We treated the hives for mites. Luckily the weather cooperated and the treatment went well. I will do a follow up post explaining why we treat and the issues mites can cause.
I finally weed wacked the bee-yard (jungle) and noticed one hive was running out of room. This past Saturday Grandpa and I added an addition onto the hives. This third hive box is an important one. This is the box that will get the bees through winter for the most part. It should have at least 50 pounds approximately of honey for them to survive. Along with us feeding them hopefully we will overwinter these bees and be able to extract some delicious honey next summer! You will notice in the photo with the taller hives there is a 4th box. This is a feeder box. My father and law and I decided we should be cautious and feed the bees to hopefully deter swarming. (Swarming is when there are too many bees in a hive and half decide to move out and they form a new queen.)
Our next thing to worry about is robbing. The next few weeks is when other honey bees, hornets, you name it rob hives. I will tell you how we deter this in the follow up post along with why we treat for mites.
Thank you for reading! We hope you are enjoying your summer! ☀️
No no, not that weed! Let’s talk about weed killer. I was not aware until recently that a lot of weed killers on the market kill honey bees too. Most of the commercial weed killers contain a chemical glyphosate that is responsible for killing the weeds and also honey bees. Farmers have run into issues since honeybees are needed to pollinate a good amount of their crops. Fixing one issue has only caused another. Here is a bee friendly weed killer, thanks to VT Beekeeping Supply.
This weeks beehive inspection my father in law and I weren’t messing around. We got the smoker ready and dressed in full protection. Here is a small video. At the end you can see Queen Bee-once! I wish I got video of the bees after you smoke them. It puts them in a state of calm confusion (I will get a video of that next time.) The queens are busy and the bees have been busy building out comb. Lots of eggs, honey and nectar!Check her out! We have yet to spot Britany BEEch but we know she is there since there are blood chambers!