With snow on the ground and the hives tucked in until late December when we will need to check food supplies and general wellbeing, it’s about time to get around to finishing the extraction of honey (e.g. removal of honey from comb). We pulled about seventeen full and partially full honey boxes from the ten hives we had this season. We have extracted about two-thirds of the honey from Racine, MN and have yet to get to the St. Paul honey. As far as hives, we are over-wintering seven of the ten hives we ran this season; three having failed in late fall – two in failures in Racine, and one in St. Paul. There will likely be at least couple more failures to bring the mortality rate to the usual 50%.
Winter is usually harsh on hives in Minnesota (and elsewhere in the upper midwest). And, over the last couple of days, it snowed a bit in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area as well as elsewhere in the state of Minnesota. Here in Hibbing, we awoke to -10 F Thanksgiving morning. Astronomical winter will not be here for another month or so, but, with a few inches of crusty white snow on the ground and temperatures now well below freezing (and zero here on the Iron Range), for many practical purposes, winter has arrived.
In the mean time, we plan. We have been tossing around the idea of having four or so hives north of Hibbing and Chisholm, MN, on family-owned forested property. Melissa also has family near Finlayson, MN who have the startings of a CSA-type farm. They are interested in including honey with the vegetable and poultry shares that they will have available next year. And, back in Racine, the farmer is letting us play with a half-acre for a large garden. We plan to plant a large amount of buckwheat, monarda, and other bee-friendly-plants in addition to the regular staples of a vegetable garden. Needless to say, we will be busy next season.