The Unfinished Harvest

Today, my husband made the call. The final call. The call to our insurance agents to come do a write-off on the fields the tornado ripped through on September 20th.

My mood has nose-dived. Tanked. I have been angry. I have been selfish. I have been completely devastated.

In my 28 (short) years of life, I have never not seen a crop harvested on these fields that have been part of my family’s history for over 100 years.

In our last-ditch attempt to harvest some, my husband watched the yield monitor, texting me telling me it isn’t good. Most of the corn is laying in the soil, unable to be picked up by the combine head. Then one snout broke. Too close to the ground trying to pick up a few more ears…any ears.

Well-meaning advice just made me angrier… “Rent a draper head.”  Yeah…not in this situation and the damage to the combine wouldn’t be worth it. “Buy a pick-up reel.” Because we can afford a $25,000 reel to be used on 3 of our 5 fields. “Slow down, you’ll get it.” We’re going 2mph.

Broken snout #2 trying to harvest downed corn.

We’ll try again. Fix the snout, on to the next field. What might have been bad advice by someone to set the head lower in an effort again to pick up more ears, resulted in another broken snout. There are only so many snouts you can go through cost wise before you say, something has to give.

We’ll try it one more time. Go over with the header even higher. Take just what is still standing, or half-standing after all this rain. Try one last time. Insurance will write off the rest. I’m not even going to think about things like bushels, yield monitors, or pretty green screens.

Devastating seems like the right word with all of this. I know, I know we will get an insurance check. This is why we have it. For catastrophic events like this.

But it isn’t the same. We worked so hard all year long…carefully choosing the right herbicides, fertilizers, precision applications. Selecting new varieties that were looking so amazing before the storm. Choosing variable rate seeding based on our different soil types. Installing tile for better drainage to give the crops a yield boost. Harvest is the time we see all that hard work come to fruition.

I’d liken harvesting that first field to a child waking up on Christmas morning. Everyone is eager to get in, to see what the yield is. You take pride in your harvest.

But not this time. This time, I feel like a failure. A crop that was so beautiful and then just like that, gone. We get a set amount, we don’t get to market our crop. We don’t get to put it in a bin. We don’t get to haul it to the ethanol plant. Every task on the farm that was a “job” now seems more like it was a blessing – we were given the ability to do so, now that opportunity is gone.

We’ve been finding random pieces of debris in the field from the tornado.

I have been trying to keep my anger in check. Although I know my husband has bared the brunt of a few of my arguments over all of this. I feel like it is giving up – bowing to the blow Mother Nature decided to deal us. And also this strange feeling of pride of this being land that my family has farmed for so long, that not harvesting it, is somehow dishonoring my family and their legacy. Not being able to have my daughter riding in the combine, combining the same fields her Grandpa did each fall, brings on a new and odd wave of guilt. The emotions with this harvest are running high. I have found too many people think farming is some glamorous lifestyle, and this stuff, the really hard stuff, is something they would never be cut out for. They won’t ever understand it. The struggle of what this life can truly be like is unnoticed by so many. That is okay. I’m not sure I would want them to have to go through this.

Regrouping. Sifting through my frustration, anger, worry and guilt has been a struggle. It still is every single day. I continue to write my grateful 5 each day – searching for the blessings every day instead of dwelling on what I cannot change. We have our house, our family…things could have been so much worse that night.

When your crop is laying on the ground, wiped out by something completely out of your control, taking the next step, moving forward, can be so difficult when all you want to do is cry. Tears come easy, smiles are few and far between, but clinging to hope for next year. Falling and getting back up, scraped knees and all, because you need to. Have to. That is the hard stuff.

-Sara

Advertisements

Is CRP Slowly Killing Young and Beginning Farmers’ Dreams?

The Conservation Reserve Program or more commonly known as CRP has long been touted as a way to remove marginal farmland from production. This was land that maybe formerly was a wetland or just didn’t perform well because it would be a drowned out low spot in the field. The application involved showing that it would be a good field to return to or protect wetland habitat and highly erodible ground, at least for Minnesota. Minnesota’s focus has primarily been on wetland habitat for the last 20-30 years of CRP.

Typically these acreages would often range in the 1-5 acre range for what a farmer typically wanted to remove from production. After all, the entire field wasn’t necessarily marginal, but sections of it may have been.

After speaking with several area farmers, and experiencing it firsthand, farmers would often apply to have those smaller tracts removed from marginal production and put into CRP, and would find themselves denied. Reason? Not because it wouldn’t be a good candidate for the program, but FSA wanted more acreage. Often asking for tracts of 15-35 acres to be removed from production, or even an entire field.

CRP has a time frame on it. Once you put land in the program, it stays in there for 10 years. 10 years is a long time in a cyclical farm market, when many are choosing to place their land in CRP simply because crop prices are low and the CRP program is paying very high

CRP program payments are currently well above average county rates. In my county, average rates hover in the $225-$250 rate for farmland. CRP payments are in the upwards of $100 to $150 per acre more than what farmers are able to cash flow.

This is a problem.

This is a problem because it is encouraging people not from the area to purchase land, reach the 2 year farming rule, and place land into CRP before giving actual farmers that live or work in the area a chance to rent that land or purchase that land. Often we see people from outside of these rural communities, that may live in a metropolitan area, purchasing land, hiring someone to custom farm it for the required two years, and then putting it into the CRP program at rates that will pay them twice the amount of what they might get in rent or what they could be losing by farming it themselves. Hey, you can’t blame them I guess IF money is their only object.

Young farmers are trying to return to their rural communities, but accessing land can be very difficult.

In the meantime, young and beginning farmers who keep getting told they have tons of governmental options to rent land (one example – Minnesota passed legislation offering tax credits to those renting to young and beginning farmers last year) are literally fighting against one section of the government while supposedly getting help from the other to find land to farm. A young and/or beginning farmer can’t afford a $350/acre land rent, and I actually doubt most farmers who have been farming a long time could actually cash flow that right now with current crop prices. But somehow, the government can. The government can pay over $300/acre for CRP contracts for the next 10 years.

We are seeing entire fields get removed from production that will more than likely lose their previous farmable wetland designation when they come out in 10 years. We are seeing productive crop land removed from production and placed into the CRP program simply because landowner can get more for it through the program then they could by renting it to a local farmer. We are seeing entire fields go into CRP because they are overlooking smaller marginal tracts that may be a better fit for the program’s original intent. Beginning farmers are losing out on the ability to potentially cash flow some marginal land while looking for other ways to improve the soil through cover crops, variable rate seeding, or even smaller grains such as barley, oats, and wheat as part of their rotations or other specialty crops such as hops and grapes.

So why aren’t we paying young farmers $300 an acre in land rent to keep farming? To build a continued, sustained, farm operation in rural communities? To give them an opportunity? We can say we are speeding up access to funding from FSA and increasing the cap, but it is all a little too late when land rates for purchasing have continued to stay high despite low commodity prices.

I know, I know. CRP is all for the sake of wildlife habitat. But when do we finally say enough is enough and that a balance is there? When do we finally admit that maybe preserving farmland to feed people, to fuel our vehicles, and create a million other items is important too?

When do we start to put a preservation status on our agricultural land? When do we start to preserve the farming lifestyle that some choose

Preserving farmland for future generations and for food security is important.

as their business and profession? When do we get to put out a big metal sign on a piece of farmland and say that this piece has been preserved as agricultural farmland for the entirety of its life, like we do for wildlife habitat?

Some of you will read this whole post and come away purely saying she’s against wildlife, but definitely not the case. We have a wetland area in the back of the property we own that is in CRP. We have 40 acres of woods that are part of a piece of land we farm that is just that way because we enjoy it. We hunt pheasant and deer. However, at the end of the day, there has to be some push back when we have beginning farmers that can barely get 50 acres to start and then have to compete with the government on top of it.

-Sara

The Complicated Saga of Farm Drainage

Recently, a journalist published a story about tile drainage in farm fields in the Star Tribune.

Minnesota is heavy with inaccurate information when it comes to water quality concerns right now. Some concerns, although with the best of intentions, are far more complex than made out to be. Some concerns, have been perpetuated with what one might call a “tall tale” to instill fear in the general public. Some concerns, are very valid, and farmers alike have taken steps to mitigate and stop issues, but it will likely take longer than a single year, even two, three or 10 to turn back some of what has accumulated over 50, or 100 years. It’s easy to say it wasn’t all that long ago, but really, 1990 will be 30 years ago in 2 more years already. Farming practices have drastically changed just in the last 5 years, let alone 30, 50, or 75 years.

A major uncontrollable factor that many fail to address is that we have seen an increase in what are commonly referred to as “100 year” rain events across Minnesota. As much as we would like to as farmers, we can’t control Mother Nature, and sometimes she’s cranky. These events have overwhelmed the best designed tiling systems, city sewer and water, and counties.

That water has to go somewhere, and it will. You can choose to lose your topsoil and along with it bring phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients directly into streams, lake, and rivers. Or, you can install tile, using the soil as a filter, increasing the water holding capacity of soil, greatly reducing the amount of soil loss, nutrients in waters and benefiting soil microbes. Does it fix everything? No. If someone could create a magic box that removes nitrates from water that we could install as part of a tile installation, that would be one of the best things that could happen to agriculture.

When we are considering a tile project, we first submit our plans to the NRCS office in the county the field is in. The NRCS goes through a wetland determination process before we can begin. If the area we want to tile is determined to be a wetland, we have to A, either stop the project all together, or B, find another area of land we have and install a wetland. Essentially it is a wetland for a wetland.

Majority of ditches created, were created as public or private drainage ditches for the sole purpose of draining water. They were designed to do exactly what their job is. Public drainage ditches particularly, have assessed landowner fees based on every landowners discharge within the drainage ditch. Sometimes a public drainage ditch has fields for miles that are part of its drainage area. It seems impractical to yell about something that is doing exactly what it was designed to do and is under legal authority by an SWCD. Any drainage ditch lawyer will tell you the amount of information, paperwork, and science that goes into redetermination of benefits for public drainage ditches is more than anyone thinks.

When you see tile projects happening, many times, this isn’t necessarily new tile, but an upgrade to an already tiled field. For instance, we recently replaced old, cracked and collapsed cement tile, with new perforated plastic tile in our field. Many fields already have cement or clay tile in them – you are often just seeing a replacement or upgrade to a current failing system. 75 years ago, the editorial was right, there more than likely wasn’t a map of that drain tile. We had to use a tile finding machine to even figure out where the tile went. My husband now uses infrared thermal UAV technology to map drain tile for farmers without maps of systems on their land. Tile mapping is now completely constructed ahead of time utilizing GIS and GPS software to follow land topography, soil type, water holding capacity and more. New, updated, and repaired systems are completely mapped out. Whether or not a SWCD or NRCS office has that map, is a different question.

Media often fails to mention the implementation of farm practices such as cover crops, variable rate application, zone management, nitrogen fixers, etc. that all play a role in things like nutrient management, water holding capacity, soil structure, and more. There are many positive things that have been implemented that are just starting to see benefits 4-5 years down the road.

The angst amongst farmers over that story, is that it is spreading half-truths about a situation that is more complicated than could ever be covered in a short letter or a blog post like this. As much as I’d like to address everything in detail with every study out there, that would get a bit long and boring. Are farmers working to improve water quality? Every day. Are there always a few bad apples in a bunch? Of course. Are we willing to have conversations, research new ideas and implement new practices, and come to the table for respectful dissemination of information? Definitely. As farmers, we get tired of the fear mongering instead of looking for sensible solutions or an understanding that the issue is not as simple as a single story.

-Sara

 

Thank You Mom For Making Harvest Look Easy

My mom always told me that in a marriage, sometimes someone was giving 150% to help your spouse through. In farming, those wise words couldn’t be truer.

My mom always prepared large harvest meals for our family. The gentleman who did our custom combining for us, along with my dad, and siblings, would all come in and sit around the kitchen table each night for about 45 minutes with an amazing meal that my mom prepared.

Everything from roast beef or pork roast with mashed potatoes, corn, squash, fresh homemade bread, and always dessert, usually a homemade apple pie or brownies would be waiting for us. My dad always took that time to stop what he was doing in the field and come in for supper. Luckily for us, growing up, all of our fields were relatively close in proximity to our home farm which made it possible.

I often think about my mom running us kids to sports and other activities, getting laundry done, some years working a job in-town, others being a stay-at-home mom. She always made sure my dad had a thermos of coffee and breakfast before heading to work in town or to the fields. She did a lot during planting and harvest, for all of us.

My mom always went above and beyond for our family during those tough spring and fall seasons on the farm.

She taught me that I was capable of anything. That being strong and independent was just part of the farming lifestyle. Taking my daughter to her doctor’s appointments, gymnastics lessons, grocery shopping, the museum, etc. all by myself would just be part of this new season of my farming life, and it is one she showed me how to do with grace on a daily basis.

Sometimes, it is those that are behind the scenes in harvest that are the unsung heroes. The ones we don’t see pictures of driving tractor or combine, but instead are folding laundry, tucking kids in at night, cooking meals for harvest crews, feeding livestock, or sitting down to pay all the bills each night. They keep the home running while someone is in the tractor from 7am to midnight, and do their best to give a few comforts of home during that time.

When you are a farming family, it truly takes a team to make it all work. It may mean that one of you gives 150% for a while to keep it all going. This is the industry we live and breathe.

So thank you Mom, for all you did for our farming family growing up. You made it look easy, and I never thanked you enough. And for teaching me that sometimes a hot thermos of coffee and fresh cookies are the best thing you can send with your husband when he’s going to spend 16 hours in the tractor, thank you for that too.

-Sara

Farm Safety – Always Worth Thinking About

Farm safety is something that continues to be at the forefront of my mind now with Harper in the mix.

Recently, in a neighboring town, a little girl wandered off into her family’s cornfield. Luckily, she was found after about 8 hours. I can’t even begin to imagine the worry, heartache and then relief that family felt throughout the ordeal.

I can remember my parents always telling me find a row and keep walking until you reach the end or a road if I ever got lost in one of our fields. I honestly, can’t say I really remember ever playing in any of our fields, yet the thought of how quickly an incident like this could happen to any farm momma weighs on my heart.

Farm kids grow up faster. They have responsibilities that most won’t have until they are 10 or 12 or maybe even 16 by the age of 5 or 6 a lot of times. I think of how Harper isn’t even 3 and she knows how to feed her chickens, pig, and give treats to her “neigh-neighs.” She collects eggs from the chickens, can haul the bucket back to the garage and place them in the carton to go in the fridge. She knows how to water the plants, has her own wheelbarrow and work gloves, and helps in the garden.

Harper having a nice chat with her pig.

Sometimes it never ceases to amaze me what she already know and all she does. We are a working farm and safety issues do happen. Simple things that I would have never thought twice about before I am over-cautious of now. Things such as making sure the bucket is all the way down on the tractor before letting her anywhere near it if we are hauling rock.

One thing I personally won’t let her do is let her ride on a lawn mower. At least not until she is old enough to actually drive it herself, and I can pass on the task of mowing the lawn to her. It irks me to no end when I see people on Facebook posting photos of tiny babies and toddlers riding on lawn mowers with their parents or grandparents. It takes one bump or quick stop for that kiddo to be under the blade. It just isn’t something I want to risk or encourage even if the blade isn’t engaged or it is just flat ground. A shift in family culture can be difficult, but can be necessary for the sake of safety.

Sometimes it is very hard when I am working out in the yard and she decides to wander to the other side of the house. I frequently have to stop what I am doing, go get her and bring her back or stop all together because she refuses to come back. Having a watchful eye on my kiddo gives me a heart attack and is frustrating all at the same time. I know I struggle with not being able to go out and help Mark with everything because I have to ensure Harper’s safety first and foremost.

As harvest in Minnesota really gets into full swing, after about a three-week delay due to rain, I know many farmers, including us, will have late nights, be moving equipment, and generally working longer hours in an effort to make up for lost time. Sometimes I fear a simple mistake may be made. Someone is in a rush or is over tired, and misses a simple safety step. It happens.

We don’t have OSHA standards in farming or a big sign up that says 159 days since the last incident in a shop. Most farms probably don’t have a protocol in place in case an emergency was to happen. It is one of the reasons I still maintain my emergency medical responder license – to be prepared in case an incident happens.

Safety isn’t something to take lightly.

-Sara

Martin County Ag Tour

A Day Celebrating Agriculture in Martin County

When you work in agriculture, it is easy to get pigeon holed into what you know or what you do on a daily basis. We are primarily cash crop farmers with a few livestock and honeybees. I grew up with various livestock on a feedlot scale, but the technology, techniques, housing, and practices have changed tremendously since I was younger, or what is on our farm since we are small-scale.

Martin County Ag Tour

We were greeted with our agenda for the day & Corn Niblets from Sunshine Suzy LLC! They were delicious and a perfect snack on the bus. You can find them at local Hy-Vee stores in the Martin County area.

It is one of the reasons I jump on any chance to learn more about agriculture in Minnesota and what my fellow farmers are doing. I was recently invited to spend the day in Martin County, about an hour from the Mankato area, learning about agriculture and its impact on the county. It was followed by a dinner called From the Ground Up – hosted by Project 1590. I am going to try to highlight a few of my takeaways (even as a person working in the industry) that I learned.

  1. Devenish Nutrition – I’m going to be honest, I didn’t even know this company existed until visiting their US Headquarters in Fairmont as part of this tour. They call themselves an agritechnology company that provides nutritional solutions to livestock – their business is generally 40% poultry 35% swine, 20% ruminant, and various livestock complete the rest. They are headquartered and founded in Ireland, and a connection with the Fairmont vet clinic brought them over to the Fairmont area. They have grown from 23 employees to 400, and do business in over 30 countries! They did say it can be a challenge to attract new talent to the community, but it was refreshing to see many of the employees were local to the area and have settled their with their families. Although I could probably go on and on about this company – I was fascinated – the things that struck me the most was their commitment to research. They have their own research barns, as well as barns contracted with farmers, to ensure their findings are real-world applicable. They are also doing research in if feeding animals superior feed, meaning you get a superior chicken breast or pork chop at the store, if and how that impacts human health. Pretty cool!

    Devenish Nutrition

    I am still in awe of all this company is doing since their expansion into the United States.

  2. Hen-Way Manufacturing – A farmer with a problem who created his own solution and the businesses exploded from there. That is the easiest way to describe this family built business. He was a hog farmer himself who couldn’t find the equipment he needed for the new barn styles, so he started building it himself, and pretty soon others started noticing, and ordering! This company also invested in their own solar panels to reduce their electric bill by 2/3 of what it was. But I think what I most enjoyed about this stop was the way the owner Lonny, talked about his family. He didn’t start off about the company or the products, but rather explained how they made it all work for their kids and grandkids to live nearby, work with them, and farm with them. He and his wife will be married 50 years this year. He was a man who made you want to do business with him.

    Hen-Way Manufacturing

    Welding was a skill that was in high demand at Hen-Way Manufacturing. As someone who used to promote careers in agriculture for a job, hearing their need for welders and those willing to work was something I understood.

  3. Elm Creek Agronomy – Elm Creek Agronomy is a Pioneer seed dealership and chemical sales company owned by two friends. It was  neat to see how an idea blossomed into a large business who now does soybean seed treatment for an entire region of dealers, including competitors! Here we were treated to lunch complete with high oleic soybean oil potato chips – made from soybeans that are being grown for the first time in Martin County to produce high oleic oil. Pioneer sells the Plenish brand seed that produces a more nutritious, longer lasting, and safer cooking oil!

    Elm Creek Agronomy

    Elm Creek Agronomy installed a new precision seed treater that serves many regional seed representatives.

  4. CHS – We were able to tour the CHS facility by bus with one of their employees. During harvest, they have over 1,500 trucks delivering soybeans per day – so many that they have to use the nearby fairgrounds for overflow! They ship out 50% of their meal by truck and another 50% by rail. Over 10 counties supply them with soybeans, so farmers from all over the region are trucking into this facility. For every bushel of soybean that comes into the plant, they can produce 42 pounds of soybean meal and hulls AND 1 1/2 gallons of soybean oil!
  5. Easy Automation – This company just floored me with where they started and where they are continuing to go. They haven’t been afraid of innovation, expansion and investment to get where they are going! Their company automates the facilities that make livestock feed. They deal in three areas: software, controls, and equipment. Their system allows traceability so they can track every single ingredient in case of a recall, and their systems are extremely accurate. They are currently working to innovate the water purification systems as well as decrease the overall cost of biofuel production with their new businesses. What I found most interesting what their committment to employees and communication in their business. Each employee had posted outside of their office space, the best ways to communicate with them and how they handle situations so you would know how to best interact. They also recently opened up a Mankato office in order to allow those that commute the option to work remotely a few days each week too.

    Easy Automation

    Easy Automation also manufactures equipment along with software and controls.

  6. Windmill Farm – I have always been fascinated by wind power. Mark and I have frequently talked about putting up a small wind turbine with a magnetic motor just to power our future honey house. The windmill farm we toured was huge! It was all because some area farmers got together and decided to invest in this new power generation system. There were different ways and options for area farmers to get involved by leasing land, buying into a turban or investing in the LLC they formed. These wind turbines spin at 188 mph when they are at pull production and have a life expectancy between 20-25 years. What I found interesting was in order to do maintenance on them, they have basically an ultrasound machine that scans the blade with ultrasonic photos to determine any issues! Neat how a system used for medicine crosses over into energy production.

    Windmill

    Windmill Farm in Martin County. In case you are wondering – each one has a lift assist in there to get to the top so you don’t really have to climb all those ladder rungs inside.

  7. Hog Barns – Our last stop on our day full of tours was a hog barn owned by a local 19-year-old. Yes, you read that right. 19 years old. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do in life (some days I still am) and this young man in college, had built his own barn and was now leasing it out to an area hog operation. They owned the hogs, he owned the building. His family said it was one way for him to work towards coming home to the farm. The electronics that control feed, water intake, heating and ventilation systems and just about everything else, are all available to check, change, and automate from smartphones and tablets. This allows this young man to attend college and be able to check on how much water the hogs are drinking all at the same time! It was quite impressive!

    hog barn automation

    Discussing the electronics and systems that control the hog barns from an iPad.

Working in a bigger city, I often hear how disconnected consumers are from the farm or rural Minnesota. We need to understand how rural Minnesota is an economic driver for our large cities. Martin County, although rural, is an economic hub full of entrepreneurial spirit that is making an impact at a local, state, national and international level! From opening a second office in Mankato to giving us the pork that is on our BBQ all summer long, we are impacted every single day by the farms and agriculture communities that make up Minnesota.

We ended the night at a dinner event called From the Ground Up, hosted by Project 1590. Project 1590’s mission is to enhance the vitality, livability and health within Martin County. The economic impact and driving force of agriculture within Martin County is very strong, something Project 1590 recognizes and From the Ground Up serves as a fundraising event each year that connects consumers with farmers and their food.

Decor at From the Ground Up

The rustic decor at the tables was gorgeous.

From the Ground Up

Our menus and programs for the evening. Sons of Butchers catered the event – Martin County natives and now a BBQ team.

Food at From the Ground Up

Sons of Butchers BBQ. I even tried the spicy jalapeno sausage and it was actually quite good – even if I had to guzzle water after ;)

The food was amazing, as were the people. One of the farmers I met, I actually had interviewed her sister at my previous job for a story so it was fun to make that connection and learn a little more about their operation through dinner time. It was also fun to learn why people stayed in the community after moving there for a job. At the end of the night, I was wishing I was moving to the Fairmont area after hearing how amazing it was to raise a family there.

It was a beautiful evening full of great food and great conversation. I ended my night by fueling up at a local gas station before making the trek back home, only to be met by faces of cattle starting back at me on the other side of the pumps. It truly was where the county meets the city, and a slice of a thriving rural area that Minnesota shouldn’t take for granted.

At the end of the day, we should all learn a little more about what makes the areas of this state tick and how they are all interrelated. If we start to understand the full circle a bit more, and the impact the agriculture sector has on everything from electronics to the trucking industry, maybe the conversations we have will continue to be about collaboration and moving our communities forward to the future.

Thank you to Martin County, the Project 1590 crew, and all the volunteers for a wonderful day and an eye-opening experience for farm kid/farmer/ag employee who continues to learn all she can about this great industry!

-Sara 

3 Answers To Your Questions About Bees

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers! Bees always bring up a plethora of questions from what do you feed them, to how do you treat them, to what do you do with them in the winter. They are a very unique livestock that helps produce over $20 billion in products in the U.S. every year.

  1. How many bees are in a hive?

We buy our bees in a 2lb. or 3lb. package when we start a hive. Depending on size of the package, initially a hive starts out with anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 bees on average. Every hive has three types of bees – a queen, worker or female bees, and then male or drone bees. A hive will contain one queen bee, a few hundred drone bees, and anywhere from 30,000-80,000 worker bees.

 

  1. How much honey does a hive make?

Honestly, it varies every single year. Some years they are great producers, other years they slack a bit. It truly depends on the individual hive. But on average, a hive should produce in the 75lb. to 125lb. range. However, our hives are always left with two deep boxes to feed on throughout the winter.

 

  1. What can we do to help bees?

This one is simple – plant lots of pollinator friendly plants that bloom at various times throughout the growing season! One of my favorites to plant are zinnias. You can also use feeding pollinators as a really good excuse to your significant other when you don’t get to mowing the lawn right away because dandelions often serve as a first source of food for bees. Support local beekeepers and buy your honey from them when you can.

What other questions do you have about raising bees or honey extraction? Leave a comment and hopefully we can help answer your questions!

-Sara