Sub-Arctic Top-Bar-Hive Beekeeping and Natural Honeycomb Production Combined with the Introduction of New Winter Hardy Red Raspberry Cultivars
Top-Bar-Hive Beekeeping: Project coordinator Lance Gillette set up four top-bar beehives in 2002, a year when beekeeping weather was “miserable.” April, when bee packages are received, is typically the area’s driest month, but April 2002 was the wettest, snowiest on record as well as unusually cold. June 2002 was the coldest June in 17 years and July continued wet and cold. As a result no natural honeycomb was produced that year. Honey production for standard beehives was also low, and honey income failed to exceed expenses.
As the SARE grant only covered four beehives for one summer, Gillette set up two more top-bar beehives at his own expense in 2003. Because of management mistakes, the two hives failed to produce marketable honeycomb. In 2004, Gillette intends to correct the mistakes to see if he can produce marketable honeycomb from one more top-bar beehive.
Introduction of New Winter-Hardy Raspberry Cultivars: Gillette rototilled and planted annual ryegrass in 2002 in the field planned for two raspberry cultivars, repeating the process in 2003 and enclosing the field with an electric moose fence. The two cultivars to be grown, virus tested with negative results in 2002, were to be propagated by tissue culture in 2003, an often difficult process. The propagation failed and Gillette received a one-year extension to try again in 2004 with 25 test tubes of each cultivar.
• Demonstrate whether low-cost top-bar beehives can be more profitable than expensive standard beehives that require extensive equipment such as extractors
• Test two new winter-hardy raspberry cultivars to see if they will flourish in interior Alaska, where few raspberry cultivars thrive
Top-Bar Beehives: Over two seasons, no marketable honey was produced. The second season produced considerable honeycomb, but owing to management mistakes none was marketable as natural honeycomb.
Raspberry Cultivars: Raspberry cultivars must be tested for viruses before being brought into the United States from Canada. While the two intended cultivars tested negative in 2002, attempts to propagate them by tissue culture failed, delaying their planting in fields prepared with rototilling, fencing and drip irrigation. Gillette anticipated receiving 25 of each cultivar in test tubes in 2004, the first batch in January and the second in spring or early summer.
BENEFITS OR IMPACTS ON AGRICULTURE
As the project has yet to be completed, no measurable impacts or benefits have been recorded.
DISSEMINATION OF FINDINGS
It is too early to communicate findings.
University of Alaska Cooperative Extension
Fairbanks, AK 99775
Office Phone: 9074742423
Georgeson Botanical Garden
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Office Phone: 9074745651