100 Pounds of Honey? Really?

I expected to be part of a panel discussion at the recent NL Beekeepers AGM but instead found myself in the spot light listening to words come out of my mouth like I was having an out of body experience. I apparently spoke about moisture quilts and what was referred to afterwards as my “winter ventilation strategy.” Okay. I would describe myself as somnambulistic after a week of work that left my brain running on fumes by the time I showed up at eight-thirty in the bloody morning for the AGM. Then, to cap it off, what I thought was a panel discussion scheduled for the lunch hour got pushed to the end of the day, by which time I was fighting to keep my eyes open, going to the washroom every 20 minutes to splash cold water on my face. By the time I arrived at my moment shine, it was great. Just great. I wish I had it on tape. I had a good laugh talking about it afterwards when I got home. You gotta laugh.


At any rate, someone who was lucky enough to be graced by my presence at the AGM sent me an email this morning asking me if I really got 100 pounds of honey from one of my hives after I put an empty moisture quilt on it for ventilation. My answer was: “You better believe it!” I don’t even remember saying that during my presentation, but apparently I said it — and it’s true. I responded to his email to explain how it happened, how I lucked into it really, and then I copied and pasted my response to Facebook, and now I’m copying that Facebook post to ye ole Mud Songs blog because I’m reaching the end of another long day at work and I really don’t have the brain power to do anything other than copy and paste.

So here it is, the story of how I got 100 pounds of honey from a single honey bee colony, and in Logy Bay, Newfoundland, of all places:

By the way, I plan to write a post that covers all the topics that I expected to talk about during the panel discussion, in the form of a conversation between three beekeepers, just as I imagined the panel discussion would play out. It, too, will be great. Stay tuned.

7 thoughts on “100 Pounds of Honey? Really?

  1. I enjoyed your presentation, Phillip! Thank you. I thought it would be a panel discussion as well, but then it morphed into individual presentations by you and Gerard with additional commentary from Mike (with Gerard). Does it matter? It was all useful to the initiates.

  2. Nope, it doesn’t matter. I just sort of, kind of wish I was a bit more on the ball, as opposed to feeling like a zombie most of the day. I didn’t talk to half as many people as I expected to. My brain was shutting down big time. But it all worked out fine in the end.

  3. Phillip/Peter, I thought is was excellent! It was much better than a panel discussion. You all were standing around the double queen hive just communicating calmly and clearly. It was perfect and natural.

  4. Don’t read me wrong. I have no complaints about how the AGM played out. All I’m saying is, boy was a tired the whole time, but to no fault of anything that happened during the conference. I felt like I could have pulled off something more engaging with some kind of panel discussion where I could chime in whenever I had something to say. I wasn’t in the best head space to give a solo presentation, even a short one. That’s all.

  5. Phillip, we have also started using a moisture quilt (ventilation box) over our hives since last year. They really work with a chimney effect happening in reverse as hot air is drawn down and out by the bees from the bottom entrance. This is wonderful to experience if you visit at night and hear the roar coming from the warm air being blasted out into the cool evening.

    We were able to get 120 lbs off each hive. This year was a little less, 100 lbs each, as I got lazy and they were moved to a shaded area last fall. By lazy, I mean I didn’t push them to fill the honey supers. I feel the more honey you remove, I call it stealing, at the beginning of the summer, the more honey they will make. Our bees seem to want more work! The more opportunity you give them to reproduce in numbers and fill honey supers the more they will take up the challenge. You can imagine the problems we have though at the end of the season when the hive populations are enormous and the honey supers have been taken off. With summers becoming longer and nights not as cold, the seasonal die-off is long and slow. Any advice on controlling robbing would be appreciated.

  6. Clive, I’ve heard that roar at night in the summertime too. It’s impressive.

    Your climate in Quebec is probably very different from what we get in NL. I’m not sure what the average honey harvest per hive is in Newfoundland, but I suspect 100-120 pounds per hive would be extraordinary. But I’m not sure. All I know is that the one time I got 100 pounds was just luck.

    If I kept my bees in a rural area where I knew swarms would never bother anyone, I’d let the colonies expand to their breaking point. I’m pretty sure that’s what happened the year I got 100 pounds. I had a 3-deep hive and two of the deeps I’m convinced were nothing but brood. It was slightly insane. When I removed the honey supers, or did anything to that hive, the bees would come pouring out all over the sides of the hive, and all over me.

    I have little advice on controlling robbing. I never had a problem with robbing until this year. Leaving honey frames outside and spilling syrup on the ground triggered the worst robbing. Once I noticed it, I blocked off all the bottom entrances, leaving only the small easily-defended top entrances open. When I re-opened the bottom entrances, I only opened them half way. It seemed to work.

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