Friday, August 6, 2021

Bees on Canola 27.7.2021

This is our first time putting bees onto Canola -  27.7.2021 

The weather in WA Australia has been very wet for the start of this season, and according to the farmer it is slightly too wet for canola growers.

As we are fairly new to the Canola world, we wanted to be careful not to place too many hives on to the block just to end up with a insecticide drama, hence we decided to only drop 30 hives for the first year.

Weather forecast for the next 14 days:

Due to the current rain, no herbicide/pesticide spraying can be conducted within the next few days in the affected area, which is good to hear. However the farmer advised that he will need to do some spraying as soon as it drys up a little. We also know that it will take him about 4 days worth of spraying, hence I would imagine he will spray around the 3. - 6.August and we will probably need to remove the bees on Monday afternoon /  evening the 2nd.

Updated a few days later...

After a few days of cold and rainy weather we had a a few sunny days with temperatures above 13 Celsius, allowing the bees to fly, and soon into it the bees are bringing in a bit more than 2 Kg of nectar a day.

It turned out the farmer had to spray herbicide on to a barley patch a few kilometres away from the canola field away, luckily we have not had any impacts and do not seem to be affected by it as our bees probably will not even fly further as a few hundred meters into the canola field as we are surrounded by feed.

One thing which we are targeting on the Canola flow is to build all foundations and ending with a few build boxes of stickies on a relative cheap honey crop.
Keep in mind we run 2 brood boxes using WSP frame formats and placed 1 box of stickies over the excluder as 3rd box, while placing a box of foundations with 2 stickies in a 10 frame box as 4th box over the excluder.
As of the first week we are getting closer to having the sticky box filled, and hopefully having the 4th box built. This should then allow one of the following things. Either we will just need to rotate boxes and place the box with the foundations on 3rd position while getting the bees to finish off the built box on 4th position, or we may be lucky and remove the filled and capped box, placing the 4th box on 3rd position, and placing another box with 2 stickies and 8 foundations into the new 4th position. Sounds more complicated than it is, and I might post a picture to visualize what may have to do. I'm intending to head out to inspect the bees around the 13.8.2021 and perform all required rotations.

Below is a list of chemical used while planting and maintaining a Canola crop:


- Butisan Herbicide
- Pyrinex Super Insecticide
-Granular Sulphate of Ammonia

Broadleaf Spray – Post Seeding

-Uptake Spraying Oil
- Attrazine 900WG
-Verdict 520 Herbicide
-Clethodim 240EC

We try to avoid having bees on the crop if this is being sprayed with Herbicide and especially Insecticide! Depending on which beekeeper you ask you get different opinions about the damage to the hives and bees caused by the different chemicals. Some beekeepers say, only the field bees don't return and simply die nearly on contact with some of those chemicals, leaving you with a box of nurse bees and a still laying queen. Others report total destruction of your hives, to a point where its best to just simply burn the hive and its contents and start over. Hence the reports we have received had quite a big gap in between.

Luckily we have not had any poisoning related issues to date.

Update 12.8.2021

So what you can see on the left is basically what happened so far a few days later. Keep in mind we have had quite a bit or rain and some fairly cold days. Some nights have been around the 3-4 degrees Celcius mark onsite. Hence you can see the weight increase initially remaining flat, a minor increase in weight during some nice weather, and then rain belting down for another few days. On the right you can see how we hopefully get a few sunny days, and are looking forward for some weight gain in those hives. I will be onsite on the 13.8.2021 to inspect the hives and rotate frames and make room where required.


Update 12.9.2021

As you may can see, we had the first honey pull on Saturday 11.9.2021, however there is still plenty on the hives to come. The weather has been fairly cool the last few days and we are hoping to get another few warm days to get the last out of Canola prior moving onto a spring flow in the Toodyay area.

Note the Canola seed pods pointed out. 

Update 20.9.2021

After 1 ton of canola and a bit more to come it is soon time to get the bees moved on. The flow is flattening out and new prosperous places have started indicating coming flows. So the plan is to move them on Friday 24.9.2021 into the Toodyay area. Keep in mind we had been a bit cautious this year and only placed an initial 30 hives out on to Canola, this as we had heard lots of horror stories about poisoning etc. In the next season we will probably place 100 hives on to the same batch again and see how we go. Below you can see the weather data and the weight gain recorded by WIFIHIVESCALES.


The issue of crystallization and or creaming your honey:

We had harvested and extracted the first load of canola on 11.9.2021 and shows the left bucket out of the two seen on the right picture. Today is the 20.9.2021 and the left bucket is still runny, no signs of crystallization even said the bucket had literally been in my house around 17-20 degrees Celsius max.

The bucket on the right, as well as the individual bucket seen on the left had been made into creamed honey. We literally inserted 10% of seed honey into the mix and stirred it 2-3 times within 48 hours.
The result after about 3 days is the bucket on the right with the spoon "cutting" out a chunk of the creamed honey, which has the consistency of butter when cool. However over the course of a few days, it really goes hard and you will have to work that spoon to get a scoop out of the jar. I personally found it amazing on how fast canola crystallized once we introduced a seed crystal, and I believe that is the issue when people have issues extracting canola. Canola by itself if there is no crystals inside are in my view not problematic for extraction lines, it becomes really an issue if there has been some form of crystalization happening and it can then easily block up honey pumps and pipes literally over night.
The creamed / butter honey experiment showed us how intensely fast it can go from looking like  viscous canola honey to going into a consistency of butter within the course of 3 days when the "correct" seed honey is used or happens to remain within your extraction plant.

(This blog post is subject for later updates as we go)

Meanwhile if you are interested in learning more about Canola, then please feel free to have a read of the below study:

Happy beekeeping!



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