bees on the brain


Welcome to my brain this week! As Spring approaches (I promise, it will come!) I find myself in full-on bee mode.

My most recent YouTube video is about propolis and its importance to a hive (Link to the full video at bottom) and my last post was about prepping for our newest arrivals. And guess what? I still can’t stop thinking about them!

I’m particularly looking forward to a new variety/race of honeybees this year (new to us). Thus far in our beekeeping adventures, we’ve had Carniolan bees. This spring, we’re starting Saskatraz.

Me installing a Carniolan Queen in a new package two springs ago

Saskatraz is a relatively new bee variety, bred in Saskatchewan Canada for preferred genetic traits such as hygienic tendencies, excellent honey production, resistance to mites, and a good winter survival likelihood. There are lots of articles on the web that will give you tons of detail on how these were bred along with further info, so I won’t dive in here. Instead, I’ll give you more context on why these appealed to us.

#1: overwintering

Northern MN is a hard place to keep bees! With temperatures getting to -30 f or lower and windchills of -60 f the last two winters with almost-record snowfalls, our ladies have it rough.

We do all we can to help them out (wrapping them, putting on a big candy board, setting up a wind break) but there’s only so much one can do. This winter hardiness was easily our number one reason for selecting this variety.

Our Carniolan hive a few weeks ago

#2: hygiene/disease resistance

We’ve been lucky enough to not have any major sicknesses in our hives, but we know this is a major concern. As mites and other bad guys become stronger and more resistant to treatments, it’s important to do all we can to naturally keep them healthy, so this benefit fits the bill for sure.

#3: honey production

This was the least of our desires when we looked at bee varieties this year. I will be SO pumped if we get honey this year (we’ve only gotten a tiny bit over the last two summers), but for us, the enjoyment is in watching the ecosystem, seeing how the hive works, and knowing that we’re having a positive impact.

All-in-all, I’m looking forward to our Saskatraz bees this year! I’ll be posting lots of videos throughout our adventures, so make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Catch you next time!

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