Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bill Crawford Photo Update...

Bill just emailed me some photos from his cell phone, so we can all see some of what he's seen on his commercial beekeeping journey.  Feast your eyes...

Keep up the good work, Bill!  And keep those photos coming!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bill Crawford, Professional Beekeeper- UPDATE...

Hello Hampden County beekeepers,  

I hope everyone and their bees are doing well.   As some of you had heard, I have decided to jump to beekeeping on the commercial level.   I starting this summer by subcontracting to a beekeeper in the South Dakota praire during the Sweet Clover flow, running about 4500 hives, mostly alone.  I worked there for about 7 weeks until arranging to work for my friend of mine's father with about 3000 hives near Gettysburg, PA.  I worked there for about a month, splitting hives and preparing the hives for fall and winter.  When the labor demand there began to slow down, a friend of my boss said his friend in Lewisburg, PA.  As it turns out, I am now sub-contracting long term for Hackenberg Apiaries, the first people to be hit with and blow the whistle on Colony Collapse Disorder.  The owner is a very outspoken critic of the chemical and pesticide industry.  He has been featured on 60 minutes for talking about CCD and have been featured in the recent bee documentary movies.   I plan on working here for a couple years, that is until I break off to return to Mass with 600-1000 hives.  

With my current gig, I am able to come home on weekends if I so choose, allowing me to continue with my local honey sales and to run hives in both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania with some additional ones in New York.  As the situation works,  as I work for the family, they will in turn also be helping me grow to the point where I can break off on my own.  The apiary I am now working for are primarily pollinators, after beefing up the hives in Florida and Georgia in January, bees are sent to almonds in February,  then later in the season to pollinate blueberries, apples, and pumpkins, and after all is said and done, placed for summer and fall honey.

I have learned NUMEROUS things over the past few months, way too many to list.  But the thing that makes one a better beekeeper, is learning from your mistakes, and mistakes of others.  

The beekeepers nationwide this fall, are suffering major losses, with a good portion losing over half already.  For us, we have already lost almost half due to corn and soybean pesticides, varroa mites, viruses, and CCD.  Just this morning, I went around and checked about 1700-1800 hives divided into your bee yards for blown off lids from the storm, we ended up losing about 100 hives to drowning.

I hope by this time, everyone has their hives fed and have proper weight, with mouseguards on.  If you think of treating for nosema now, dont, it was too late and you will do more harm than good, as the hives tend to go downhill for a little while after treatment before getting back on track.  Raise you outter cover up about a half an inch to help expell moisture and keep the hives out of the bears reach.  I will be down south with my boss and I's bees and will be back in April.    I will send out another message soon regarding nucs and detail if anyone is interested, my coworker, my boss, and myself will be making nucs for sale once our bees get back from almonds, and if there areenough people interested I could bring a load to mass for people, they definitely have an edge over packages, 4-5 frames of bees with a laying queen.  

If anyone has any questions, don't hesitate to email me.
Bee Well,
Bill Crawford