Given my prior post on goals for 2017, it seems only fair to revisit my goals from 2016, part of 1001 Arabian Mites. In the post I listed five areas to focus on in 2016. Now that we are firmly in 2017 I thought a brief report card is in order.
Last year, according to my post, I set out to gather some honey, deploy a new top bar hive, perform a split, expand the fish pond, and move to all medium boxes. So how did we do? For fun I graded these on a standard U.S. grading scale, from A (best), B, C, D, or F (fail).
I did collect some honey last year (I’ve got my mind on my honey), albeit only a handful of jars. I had queen problems and swarm problems, for which I was partly to blame. So I give myself a middle grade. I hope to do better in 2017.
New top bar hive
This was done quite successfully, although it did take me two tries. I put some bees and a queen cell in the hive in early spring, and it got really cold and they died. In April my hive Jupiter swarmed (Bees of a feather swarm together), and the new top bar hive became Saturn which has done great. So not perfect, but successful.
Split a hive
I ended up doing multiple spits last year. The first was done hurriedly to prevent swarming, when I was sick and had to travel for work that same day (A hive divided against itself cannot stand). This hive became Ganymede, which did so well I split it again later in the season (into a nuc which I gave to a friend). So I would say this goal was met and then some.
Expand fish pond
Ah, the pond. The poor fish are going through their second winter in a tub, with a horse trough heater keeping them warm and me swapping some water every week or so to keep them oxygenated. My planned work to expand their home never quite happened. Well, it’s a good thing these grades are totally made up.
Move to mediums
A mixed message here. On the one hand I did move both Mars and Jupiter to use only medium boxes. They are both overwintering with three mediums. Mars seems quite well so far, Jupiter is still alive though with a small cluster. The latest mite drops on their screened bottom boards have been 1-2 mites per day the past couple weeks, which is good. So success on this front.
My two deep boxes I consolidated into the hive that became Ganymede. I was thinking I would sell this hive last year, but the extra effort involved never happened so I did not. In Virginia you are required to have your apiary inspected to sell bees. If I have the time and ambition this year, I will create a nuc or two and retire or sell Ganymede as two separate deep hives. I am definitely keeping any new hives in medium boxes. I like the ease of lifting both boxes and frames compared with the deep boxes.
I also bought a medium nuc last year, which I did not use. I finally painted it this winter and hope to try it out in 2017.
2016 Report Card
The grades are made up and the points don’t matter. Still, on a four-point scale (A is 4, F is 0), I would have 12 points for five goals. So my 2016 grade point average (GPA) is 2.4, which is a C (maybe a C+). That failing F in Expanding Fish Pond really pulled down my average. I am unsure all five hives will make it to spring, given I went into winter with fewer stores than I would have hoped. So a middling C for the year is probably a fair grade.
This year I’ll do better, Mom, I promise!
In politics a man must learn to rise above principle
I found this quote in my Facts of File Proverbs book, although it was mute on the origin. After much searching, I finally found an online reference in google books from The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs by Charles Clay Doyle. According to this reference, the quote appears in the late 1920’s and appeared to be well-known even then. Clearly I need this book, so I ordered it yesterday on Amazon.
The quote captures the somewhat cynical notion that politicians don’t stick to their principles once in office. By my thinking, this can have an upside. While politicians certainly lack scruples at times, the art of compromise also involves relaxing principles to achieve a shared goal. In the U.S. at least, the willingness to compromise has seemed rather missing of late.
With beekeeping, lots of us approach the hobby wide-eyed and excited, and it is easy to have strict principles before we have bees. Opinions about types of hives, treatments, and even bees abound.
Eventually we find our own way, and some principles are adjusted or relaxed accordingly. Perhaps I am starting to do this for 2017. We shall see.
May you prosper and find honey.