Autumn is one of the busiest times of year for the beekeeper at Rogue Farms.
There’s no more wild sources of nectar and pollen for our honeybees to forage and soon it will be too cold for them to leave the hive. So in the next few weeks our beekeeper has 7,140,289 mouths to feed, medicate and shelter before winter arrives.
The bees took care of us this spring and summer by pollinating our crops and making the honey we used in our kolsch, mead, braggot and sodas. Now it’s our turn to take care of them.
Taking care of our bees begins with the summer honey harvest. We only harvest honey from the top two boxes in the hives. Called supers, this is where the bees store their surplus honey. We don’t touch the honey in the two lower boxes where the bees live, tend to the queen and raise their brood.
To make sure our honeybees have enough food to last through winter, we’ll add supplemental sugar syrup and pollen patties to the hives. When honeybees can’t find enough wild sources of food it’s called a dearth. The fall and winter dearth can last up to six months.
This is also the time of year we give our bees medicine to fight off Varroa Destructor Mites and fungal diseases. These are the two biggest winter time killers of honeybees.
Whenever we add food or medicine we use a smoker to keep the bees under control. Smoke interferes with their ability to communicate. So if one of the bees sends off an alarm pheromone when we open the hive, none of the other bees will notice and everyone stays calm.
Come February we’ll give our honeybees a break from the cold and rain and drive them 600 miles south to an almond orchard in California. There they will spend their days in the sun pollinating the world’s largest almond crop. Almond pollen is an excellent source of protein for honeybees and the warmer weather will allow them to start building up the population of the hives.
Then, when the wildflowers fill the fields surrounding Rogue Farms, and the blooms appear in the neighboring hazelnut, cherry and apple orchards, our honeybees will come home to begin another season of growing honey and Growing The Revolution!
Don’t forget, we’re open five days a week during fall and winter. Please join us at Rogue Farms and see how we grow beer, spirits, cider and soda.