Sustainable Beekeeping in Indiana – Challenging the Old Paradigm of Buying Bees in the Early Spring
Progress Report – FNC12-856
January 27, 2013
Our project involved getting 100 nucs (nucleus) of honey bees stocked with laying Indiana grown queens and distributing them throughout Indiana in early July of 2012. We had confirmation in the fall of 2011 from the two largest beekeepers in the state that they would be able to provide 50 nucs each (5 frames of bees, pollen, honey, Indiana bred queen and brood) in early July of 2012. However, the growing season was moved up by Mother Nature a complete month in the Midwest this year. One of the beekeepers had to move his bees into Michigan for blueberry pollination a month early and his bees were not really up to strength. Because of cold weather in Michigan, he suffered considerable losses. He informed us that he would not able to provide 50 nucs as promised after all. We were fortunate to find two other Indiana beekeepers who were able to provide us with 25 nucs each. Also Mother Nature’s next trick has been to provide us with less than one half inch of rain total from the middle of May to the middle of July. In spite of that, the honey bees have been very strong and we received one hundred very strong nucs. Our goal and hope is that they all make it through the winter of 2012.
As of late November 2012 we have experienced about a 5% loss before going into the winter. This is a very reasonable amount compared to the East Central USA which is reporting unusually high fall colony losses. The typical complaint from beekeepers is that they went to their bee yard and found many of the hives completely empty of bees, but full of winter honey (ABJ February 2013 issue). We have had no additional reports of losses as of January 28, 2013.
One objective was to get one hundred two story nucs built and stocked with honey bees with Indiana bred queens. The second objective was to distribute them individually across the state by early July 2012.
We have accomplished getting one hundred nucs built by a young Amish beekeeper. They are stocked with strong Indiana bred queens and have been distributed individually throughout the state. We have 17 brand new beekeepers who have volunteered to be part of the project. They had to have a mentor identified to be able to participate in the project. We feel that this is an additional benefit of the grant.
IMPACTS AND CONTRIBUTIONS/OUTCOMES:
We will continue to monitor the progress with these one hundred nucs throughout the summer and into the winter. Participants had to provide five additional frames so that the colony could expand to have enough room to store honey, so that they can survive the winter. We have a fifteen step timetable and we have successfully completed the first eight steps. We have spent 62.8% of our budget to date. The participants are really enthusiastic and are very well pleased with the SARE grant project.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
3109 S SR 9
Greenfield, IN 46140
Office Phone: 3174627380