Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - June 12, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta
2O THE IETHMIDGE HERALD June 12, BHuton V tells all about bee keeping Beekeeping is not all milk and honey and profit- making from one of nature's processes it's worry, wait and a lot of work. Worry. That comes when the weather is dry and the crops of hay and flower are low. Without them, the bees have no nectar to collect. Without nectar, there's no honey. Wait. Besides waiting for the bees to manufacture their sweet product, Alberta beekeepers this year had to wait for their shipments of bees to arrive from Cali- fornia. Many waited and received nothing. The winter in California limited the number of bees which could be shipped here. Bill Hutton, co-owner manager of Fort Macleod Apiaries, was one of the few who received all the bees he ordered, then only after a three-week delay. They came by truck, workers and some food with one queen bee per container. Activity The queen is the centre of activity for each of the apiary's hives, distributed in 40 colonies through- out Southern Alberta. She had put in with her April 1 about workers to collect nectar. The queen's role is to keep the hive stocked with workers. In one season, she reproduces about them. To assure that the reproductive process is not hin- dered by disease, the beekeeper injects a small amount of a drug to combat the disease into the hives. That's most of what the beekeeper does on his rounds. Mr. Hutton drives miles around the south- western part of the province making those checks. lie doesn't, however, drive right up to the hives. It's a matter of good public relations with the farmers who rent him land near their crops. ILeg work By using a little common sense and a lot of leg work, I don't disturb the he told The Herald. "Lots of people would just drive through the land, and make deep ruts or leave gates open. But this just means they won't be able to use the land of that farmer any more. Renting from area farmers is a of econo- mics. It's just too expensive to own the land on which the bees are kept. The arrangement benefits both the farmer and the beekeeper. For example, one farmer north of Fort Macleod rents Mr. Hutton a small piece of land ad- jacent to his irrigated hay field. The beekeeper te guaranteed the nectar his bees need and the farmer has his crop pollinated. Labor is hard to come by, Mr. Hutton says. Fear of bees is likely the main reason. Although he pays considerably more than the minimum wage, he and his wife work alone until mid-July. When a crew is found, they have work until early November. Most wear equipment to protect against bee stings. Mr. Hutton wears only ordinary clothes, believing "if you respect the bees, they'll respect you." A bee sting can kill a horse, he says. However, the most common discomfort caused by bees is an allergy which many beekeeper develop to the sting. Special drugs are available to ease the allergy's symptoms. If that doesn't work, the beekeeper has to get out of the business, Mr. Hutton said. Clean hives The laborers clean the hives of honey and take it to the apiary's processing plant in Fort Macleod, usual- ly beginning in August. When the season is over the colonies are all fumi- gated. The bees can't be kept through the winter. That's one reason the cost of production has in- creased over the past year a new stock of bees has to be bought each spring. Despite the increased cost, the Alberta pro- ducers enjoyed a 30 per cent increase in returns in 1972. Inspecting ihe Mves By using a little common sense and a lot of leg work, Bill Hutton of Fort Macleod Apiaries preserves good relations with farmers who rent property to him for his bee- hives. Likewise, Mr. HuHon is careful tp treat the bees with respect whenever he in- spects their honey production.