Joining us today is Etienne Tardif. Etienne keeps his bees in the Yukon Territory, where he works as a mining consultant. His data driven approach to keeping bees relies a lot on the technology he uses, plus his study of insulated hives, and...
Joining us today is Etienne Tardif. Etienne keeps his bees in the Yukon Territory, where he works as a mining consultant. His data driven approach to keeping bees relies a lot on the technology he uses, plus his study of insulated hives, and thermodynamics of winter clusters. His overwintering techniques have been very successful with no top ventilation, lots of top insulation and insulation on the inside of his insulated plastic hives.
Listen today as he describes his approach to preparing his bees for winter using a combination of plastic hives, lots and lots of insulation; a very short honey flow, and his experience raising queens very, near the north pole.
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Hey everybody, thanks for joining us. It's the middle of January. While many places in the US are experiencing something of a January thaw, that's not true for everyone. In fact, that is especially not true for today's guest. To him, getting his bee through the Yukon winters is a major effort. Today, we welcome Etienne Tardif from Canada's Yukon territory, north of 60 degrees latitude.
The Yukon has a sub-Arctic climate, short cool summers, and long, cold dark winters. A colony in a wooden Langstroth hive simply will not survive in that environment without the proper preparation. Etienne has explored all options for wintering honeybees and has made it his mission to learn how to best get his bees through the Yukon winters. He has focused his attention on honeybee winter thermal regulation, nutrition, and health.
When he writes in social media, posts videos to his YouTube channel speaks at conferences, and visits podcasts, he freely shares his learned insights and experiences with fellow beekeepers. I am certain you will enjoy our talk with Etienne after a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.
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Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive, the regular newsletter full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Hey everybody, welcome back to the show. Sitting across the virtual and frozen zoom table right now is Etienne Tardif from north of the 60 degrees latitude, way up in the Yukon. Etienne, welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast.
Etienne Tardif: My pleasure. Happy to be here.
Jeff: Glad to have you on the show.
Kim: It's nice to put a face with a name because I've been reading what you write on Bee List for as long as you've been writing for Bee List I think. It's good to have you here today. The one thing I've got to get a feel for, how far north are you really.
Etienne: I'm north of British Columbia, next to Alaska, so basically, pretty much the same latitude as Anchorage. We're on the interior. The interior of Yukon is like interior Alaska weather-wise.
Kim: It gives me a feel for how cold it is today out there, I'll bet you.
Jeff: Speaking of which, how cold is it there today?
Etienne: We just did the conversion. It's about minus 15 Fahrenheit, so minus 26 this morning, Celsius. It's warmed up. It actually feels warm. We just went through a less-than-minus 40 for about a week and a half and it's been horrible.
Jeff: I can imagine it is. I think it's cold as cold and I think at some level, it's ridiculous cold. That's why we asked you to the show today. Before we get down to the topic of winter bees, tell us who you are and your experience with bees, maybe your beginning story, if you will.
Etienne: Sure. I'm originally from Northern Ontario. I guess I did my mechanical engineering degree. Then, I started working at some mines in Northern Ontario. One of my geologist's friends actually out of the blue, he says, "Etienne, I just convinced the environment department to buy me some beehives." This was in Northwestern Ontario, so it's north of Lake Superior. He asked me to join up and I had no idea what it was. I'd never thought about beekeeping as a hobby or anything.
I've always been scared of bees and wasps and Hornets and stuff, so I said, "Sure. I'll conquer my fears." [laughs] This was a little town of about 1,000 people. We set up four colonies in the mine reclamation area. We had Beekeeping For Dummies as our guide. Back then, I guess early 2000s, YouTube hadn't really picked up for how-to beekeeping stuff, but that was good. Our first set of beehives didn't have any mites because it was still mite-free colonies in Thunder Bay that we got.
Our second batch of hives, a couple of years later, were just chock full of mites so I had to learn to deal with that. That's where I got my start. Then I moved to somewhere even more north, a place called Yellowknife. It was too cold there to keep bees I thought. I put it on hold for a few years and then I moved to Australia. Lots of bee swarms all over the place in Australia and Western Australia and then eventually came back to Yukon. Then in Yukon, we have a small homestead out in the boonies and I decided to get back into beekeeping.
I invested in some poly hives and some wood hives to trial one versus the other. I can say that I'm 100% poly hives now. Being an engineer, loving data, I'm into that type of stuff, so anecdotal evidence and people telling, "This is how it's done." I'd like to know why. I guess the last 10, 15 years of beekeeping, now has been about understanding why bees do what they do.
Jeff: Are you north of Yellowknife now or are you in that area?
Etienne: I'm in that area. Basically, I'm further west of Yellowknife, close to Whitehorse, about 40 minutes out of Whitehorse.
Jeff: We spoke with Naomi Marks I believe several years ago when she released her book about beekeeping in that part of the country or generally in that neck of the woods. Welcome as our second Yukon Beekeeper.
Etienne: Our pleasure.
Kim: You said that you're looking for the whys of what's going on in a bee hive, why are they doing what they're doing? The question I would start with is your attitude towards I'm guessing polystyrene hives, plastic hives, what kind do you use and how well do they work all year long? Is there a difference, winter, summer, or anything?
Etienne: Just to put things in perspective, our summers are like some people's winters down south. We do get our high, I'd say is in the 70s Fahrenheit, so 20 Celsius is a warm day here. Our mornings where I'm located are in the 40s, high 30s, 40s is our morning temperature low. Then it warms up as the sun climbs and then we get really long days. What I found initially with my comparison between the polys and the wood was the wood would activate fairly quickly when, I guess the sun came up, it would heat up, but then there was a lot of fluctuations. If it got shady, the clouds popped up, then it would stop activating, and the polys, the brood nest eventually it picks up quicker.
Jeff: When you say activating, what do you mean by activating? The wood would activate.
Etienne: Foraging. The activity in front of the colony. One thing I do do is I put time lamps cameras on my hives from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM just to get an idea of what the forging activity is so it would tell me how activated it is and you can actually see when the clouds came in, the wood colony would actually stop really doing stuff and the poly was just more consistent because our temperature is fairly dry here in the summer, so having that cloud cover drops the temperature by 5, 6 degrees easy, sometimes 10 when there's no sun.
Then my first winter doing nothing with my polys, they survived just using straight polys. Just having it out there and the wooden colonies with a two-inch wrap on it, all this type of stuff, it didn't survive. It required much more effort to get ready for winter. Just to caveat that, that wooden colony did go through some queen issues and some brood rearing issues during the season so it did have a tough season, but it just seems that the polys have anecdotally, so over the last 15 years, they just seem to have less issues with queens, with the brood ramp up in the spring, with maintaining populations, with collecting honey.
Yukon is very forge-limited, so I'm able to fill my boxes with an easy 100 pounds of honey as the base, and then I've got my honey supers on top of that so I typically don't feed much to get my bees ready for winter because they've got a full box of honey. The thing with the wood ones is they just don't seem to collect as much. As we keep talking, you'll see that it's not about collection, it's actually about consumption, because when my temperature is so much colder, they tend to consume more during the cooler evenings, just to maintain the brood nest.
Versus a poly until it actually drops below Zero Fahrenheit, they're not really clustering, so minus 15 Celsius, that's about where they actually start activating and becoming winter bees. That's about my average temperature in the winter is about minus 15 so around zero Fahrenheit is about the average winter temperature here.
Jeff: Before we talk a little bit more about the different types of hives and the wintering characteristics of the bees up in the Yukon, can you give us a high-level overview of your beekeeping year? When does your spring start? Then take us all the way around through the year back to spring.
Etienne: Typically in good years, by mid-April to late April, we'll get our first willow pollen. The days are longer even at that point and then into mid-May, we start getting into a lot of our first pollen flow. It's a massive flow, so there's tons of pollen going. The bees really ramp up really quickly at that point. June is our first nectar flow prior to me using a lot of hive sensors and weight scales and optimizing my winter setup. I didn't even know we had a nectar flow in June, because my ramp up, they'd be ramped up for July. For example, Naomi's father and a lot of the old-time beekeepers up here, they said we only have one nectar flow and it was mid-July to mid-August.
That's what I was aiming for in my hive techniques. I'd say June, there's plenty of nectar, plenty of pollen into July. It's still decent. Depends if we get a drought, hot weather but we don't get much rain. We get about six inches of rain here from April to September. Very, very dry, so it does affect the flowers. The main nectar flow in July is mostly the really tiny golden rod and fireweed, and some places do have sweet clover. Places with sweet clover actually get a really decent nectar flow. My location is almost 100% native flowers, so if I get the right mix of heat and moisture, I'll get maybe 50 pounds to 100 pounds per hive.
Then we get our first frost typically early August and then it kills off a bunch of flowers and then all the plants actually start having all this rust on it, these rust spores that the bees are collecting. The reason I bring this up is I'll talk about pollen patties a bit later, but I've modified my management approach but then it gets warmer again but there's not much flowers out there.
Jeff: Later in August it gets warmer?
Etienne: Yes, later mid-August to early September it'll get warmer, and then basically by the end of September, early October winter starts, and then it goes all the way to August to May. The winter here luckily is very stable so we do get a bit more fluctuation because of whatever climate change or different things. We seem to get a few spikes during the winter, but it's a pretty steady minus 10, so 5 Fahrenheit to minus 10 Fahrenheit, which is perfect wintering temperatures for the bees because they can just stay bundled up in the warm setup that I do.
They consume maybe a double or consume maybe 40 to 50 pounds in that period and a single that I do might do 30 pounds. A five-frame nuk that I winter outside will do maybe 10 pounds. Because it's a nice stable temperature and the warm setup and the lack of heat loss in my setups, the bees are able to just, I guess chill from October to April and not really get stressed out. Temperatures in there are in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit, average temperature in the boxes. People say, "Oh the bees, they'll consume more if they're warm, not really because the temperature just below that cluster is around that key, I'll jump to Celsius again, so 4 degrees, which is just over maybe 37 Fahrenheit.
It's that perfect indoor weathering temperatures. Wintering temperatures. Basically, the bees are actually in that prime temperature. Even though the temperature outside might be minus 40 Fahrenheit Celsius, the temperature just below that cluster because of the warm setup and the no top entrance and the heat just being conserved in there, the bees are able to maintain a nice comfortable temperature.
Jeff: Let's take this opportunity for a quick break and then we'll come back and talk a little bit more about how you set up your colonies for the winter.
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Kim: Etienne, you just hit on something that at the moment or maybe for the last 20 years, depending on how much attention you've been paying the subject of an upper entrance, the early on beekeepers always said you needed an upper entrance so that there was ventilation so the warm, moist air could rise and escape from the hive and not collect on the bottom of the inner cover and drip down on the cluster but tell us how that works with your plastic hive and why you don't need an upper entrance.
Etienne: The key to no top entrance is actually to manage moisture. Moisture is related to honey consumption. Honey consumption is related to heat loss or the cold exposure of that cluster. What I'm doing in my setup is I'm putting lots of top insulation, so I use a deep box and I fill it with Styrofoam. What that does is it pretty much eliminates all the heat loss from the top of the colony. My side walls are poly or colonies stuck together with a bit of extra insulation and that just prevents heat loss from the sides. I do have an area in the bottom of my colonies on the front south wall where I had a bit less insulation because warm moist air is only a problem if the moisture condenses that on top of the bees.
I've got ultra insulation on top so there's no heat loss. Basically, there's no condensation on top of the bees. What that does, it drives the warm air downward as it cools, and it means the condensation will happen lower in the colony, so below the cluster. On my front wall, I have about let's say 1/2 less insulation in a six-inch section. What that does is that's where the condensation will happen. Then it just flows through my screen bottom board. I have an open screen bottom board on all my colonies and that's to drain any of that excess moisture because the pound of honey consumed I think is about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of moisture that the bees need to manage.
The thing that people need to understand too is the bees need a minimum amount of moisture to be healthy during winter. My colonies are in the 60% to 75% RH at 75 Fahrenheit for most of the winter. The reason I don't like RH, relative humidity is because it's temperature related. A 5-degree Celsius or say 40 degree Fahrenheit at 60% RH is different than 20 degrees or 70 degrees Fahrenheit at 60 RH. You might need to get a calculator on your computer just to see the difference, but you'll see that the moisture content is different, and the behavior of that air is different too.
I've had situations where my bees actually heat up the colony with temperatures outside at minus 40, and they'll take an average temperature of say 70 Fahrenheit and they'll bring it up to close to 85 Fahrenheit. It's like there's no interruptions. This is all Bluetooth, so it's my phone taking measurements that happened two days ago. For basically 12 hours, they've heated up that box. What happens is because I have multiple sensors in my boxes, I can see where the temperature crossover points are. The crossover point is where the dew point temperature of that air crosses over the surface temperature and that's where condensation would happen.
The thing is that condensation is 70 degrees. That's warm water, so the bees can actually consume that water. It's not chilling water. It's actually, "Hey, I'm thirsty." It's I think dual purpose because air at minus 40 is ultra dry. There's literally zero water in that air. It means that 100% of the moisture that they need is generated via their metabolism. The more unstable that environment is inside the box, the harder it is for them to manage that moisture in a controlled fashion.
In a wooden box, and what I recommend to folks down south is you don't need to go all as insulated as me because the temperature's not as bad. One measure, we use Growing Degree Days for plants and stuff, and forging periods for the bees. There's a measure called heating degree days. It's the opposite of Growing Degree Days. That'll give you an idea of how much energy you need, especially if you're multiple beekeepers and you compare say Minnesota to Michigan, to Montana, to Tennessee. You'll see that the heating degree days are different.
That is a measure of how much insulation you need. Bare-bones, I always say top insulation. Put two inches of Styrofoam in your inner cover year round because it helps both ways. Again, I'm a mechanical engineer so I love crunching numbers. Cooling a colony, for bees, they do evaporative cooling. Evaporative cooling is also used to humidify the air, so they use that process to humidify the air in the winter. In the summer, they use it to cool the inside of their colony. In hot muggy places, it doesn't work. The bees may add moisture to the air, and then people complain that their honey's always-- it never gets capped and it's always high moisture content and stuff like that.
I'd say, throw in some Styrofoam. Put some top insulation in there because what it does is, it reduces the heat load on that colony so the bees are better able to actually manage the inside temperature of that colony. In Australia when I was there, they actually use poly colonies for the opposite reason. To help maintain the temperatures inside the colony more stable in summer because it's so damn hot.
Jeff: You've gone from one extreme to the other. That's an interesting perspective though. That's a great one.
Kim: The equipment you're using to make all these measurements with, where can I get it? Is this equipment that I can get at a local hardware store, or is this pretty sophisticated stuff?
Etienne: Key one is I have a weather station. You need a relative what's the outside temperature. Most places, they'll go buy a typical accurate those five and ones. That's plenty good. For me, I guess I get flatlines at minus 40 sometimes because that's the minimum temperature. Then for the inside ones, I use brood minders. I've been using brood minders for almost 10 years now, and I've collected a bunch of temperature, and humidity centers, and weight scales. I've been collecting data on my colonies on the weather inside. Typically, they say one or two sensors per box or one per box.
I have up to nine per box spread out in a grid, so it gives me the temperatures on the side walls in the middle. Then I can model the temperatures throughout.
Jeff: I've seen those pictures that you've created with the grid setup with the sensors and the 3D image that you're able to create of the temperature bubble inside a box, and those are really fascinating. Whereas though, a singular sensor really doesn't really show you that. It gives you just one place. Maybe we can show one of those thermo diagrams in the show notes for the show here. That's fascinating work that you've done there.
Etienne: I've taken it a step further too. I guess I had an IR thermal camera. Taking a picture outside for me is more about heat loss and looking where the boxes are losing heat, and how I can optimize that. I've also set it up on a little stick, so I can actually take pictures of my clusters upwards so I stick it through the bottom entrance. I point it upwards and I can have a look at what the cluster looks like in winter. It's pretty neat because you can see heater bees, you can see bees walking around, you can see the butts sticking out on colder days.
The one thing that seems to happen is bees seem to heat the colony, especially when it's well-insulated on top. They don't need heat on top. There's a misconception I guess from observations is, when you have really good insulation on top, it's more of a hemisphere versus a sphere. The cluster is more like a hemisphere, and then actually uses the sidewalls and the surface as protection, because that surface is way more insulative than what the cluster can do.
The cluster's only capable of so much protection. Down south, what I tell folks is, if your bees starve or you're scared of this polar vortex, then you got to do something. There's something wrong. It's things that people need to be aware of is starvation. I've never starved bees up here, and I've got six to eight months winters. My bees consume less honey here than they do down south. It's all about conservation of heat. I've got a hot setup where I can actually put pollen patties on my colonies in late winter to trigger brood rearing. The reason I want to trigger brood rearing is because my season is so short. It gives me a couple of extra brood cycles.
I know they're not starving. They got plenty of stores. What it does is, it allows me to do my queen assessment on my first inspection because literally an hour after I add that pollen patty, I can see the temperature spike up to 95F. Literally, it's within an hour or two, the temperature just spikes up. Then you can see the brood nest developing and I'm like, "Okay. Good." If I don't see that spike, then I know I probably have a queen issue. What that does is, now I can get to June flow. Prior to that, they would only start ramping up in May, but now I have them ramping up mid-March.
Jeff: When we were talking earlier, you mentioned about pollen patties, and you wanted to talk about a specific aspect of using pollen patties. You want to talk about that right now?
Etienne: I use pollen patties twice in my season. Like I just mention, I use it to trigger early brood rearing. In areas where first pollen is months away and you're in a short season, you can use it to trigger brood rearing. The other one is from late July to early August, I start adding pollen patty to my colonies because there's the pollen death starting and I need to make sure that they're not collecting rust spores. The reason I know they're collecting rust spores is like I said, I'm a bee geek, I have a microscope too.
I crush a lot of bee guts and I can see inside their bee guts if they've been consuming pollen or honey with pollen or rust spores. It looks the same as dandelion pollen or hawkweed, so osteo-type pollen. It's orange, it's a bright orange. They take it off the willows, they take it off the fireweed. The reason I do that is-- and I'll do it until early September. I'll do a month of pollen pattie just to make sure that the brood continues to brood because if I don't do that, by mid-August, the queen's shutting down.
What used to happen is my clusters would be really tiny in April and it would take so long for them to ramp up to get that July flow. That was the conventional wisdom here is that's how we beekeep. Since I started doing I guess, late summer pollen patties and the key is I have to stop. By mid-September, no more pollen on my colonies, they need to shut down because as long as you keep adding pollen patties or a pollen-type source, those nurse bees are nurse bees.
A nurse bee will age and she'll not be a winter bee, so you have to stop feeding pollen patties about a month before your winter or at some point. Like I'm saying, my bees are 300 days old sometimes, so 250 days old. With all this pollen patty stuff, I'm making about 190 days. Folks down south don't worry about it, if you don't feed pollen patties all the way to November, you're fine. They'll be okay because your spring is going to come way sooner. The key is give your bees a break because if bees become nurse bees, they will not be winter bees. That one month before winter guarantees that that last generation of brood becomes winter bees.
Kim: The rust that you mentioned, I'm familiar with rust on plants and things. Besides not being nutritious, is it harmful if bees consume it?
Etienne: I've had discussions with Randy Oliver on this because I guess looking at his website, that's where I first discovered it. Then we interacted. There's a couple of papers that have looked at nutritional content and it may. For example, it probably affects because it's late season pollen or fake pollen, so it may actually affect the health of the winter bees. Since I've started this regime of adding a pound a week of pollen patties, I do have the occasional colony with I guess a bunch of dead bees out front with rust spores in those guts.
It's around winter bee health and making sure that they're getting enough nutrition. Because once that cell is capped, they are what they are and that bee coming out if it wasn't fed properly, won't be healthy.
Kim: Another question I had was, since you've got this dynamic picture of what's going on inside, you've got a three-dimensional container of where the heat is around the cluster of bees. Very close to that though is the inside of the super that they're in. Do you have an idea of the temperature right on the inside surface of that super?
Etienne: I've got sensors right on the outer edge and it's probably within a couple of degrees of what the surface temperature is on the outside. If it was wood, it would be harder, there'd be a much bigger transition, but what insulation does is because it slows down key transfer by depending 6 to 10 times, that sensor, you don't get the same flow of temperatures if that makes sense. Basically 1/2 inch from the side wall, I have a sensor. It gives me a decent approximation of what that surface temperature would be.
Kim: That's a good picture. I was just wondering how extreme the difference was. It seems fairly extreme, but your inside temperature bubble seems to handle that quite well.
Etienne: The thing with insulation, it enhances thermal lag, thermal buffering because as the warm air rises, as it starts cooling and dropping any surfaces, any honey gets a chance to reabsorb that heat. There's a lot of heat exchange and heat recovery going on in a single-entrance colony that wouldn't really happen in a double entrance or in a quilted ultra-vented top is you don't get that recycling of heat.
Kim: Do you get much condensation on the walls if the walls are actually that cool when it's cold? The wintering that I'm accustomed to is that I make sure that I don't have an upper entrance. I don't have insulated hives as insulated as yours. I do see condensation on the walls on the bottom box, especially the front 1/2 of the bottom box. Do you see that at all?
Etienne: I do get some condensation. The thing with poly colonies is that plastic doesn't absorb any moisture. A lot of my colonies actually have 9 frames and I've got pine board inserts on the side walls. What it does is it helps with absorbing some of the excess moisture and prevents any free water flow. If I scratch it up, then the bees can actually propolis it properly. That's the thing, condensation will happen and my goal is not to eliminate condensation, it's just to make it happen out of harm's way.
Jeff: It's a new bumper sticker, condensation happens. This is a really fascinating conversation, especially in January when this episode will air. You do a lot more for beekeeping too, and just a couple of minutes on, what is your role at Western Apicultural Society?
Etienne: A few years back, Dr. Bromenshenk reached out to me to be the Yukon director for WAS, the Western Apicultural Society, and I said yes. I guess he had read my post on BL and he said, I'm scientific enough, for real, so then I joined. WAS is a nonprofit, it's focused on small to medium-sized hobby, maybe small sideliner-type beekeepers focused on education. I'd say over the COVID years we've been running what we call mini-conferences.
That's where we bring one or two speakers, either scientifics, actual beekeepers, different topics. We try to follow themes and try to make the speakers actually have topics that relate. I'd say about a year ago, Dr. Bromenshenk had been there two years and his term was up and he was looking for a replacement. I'd said, I'll be VP, vice president, and I guess the person who was going to do president dropped out at the last minute and I was held, so I said yes. Over the last year, I've been president of WAS. Our goal is to grow our membership, but also try to revamp our vision, our purpose, look for volunteers.
That's the challenge with organizations like that, theres always few people do a lot of the pront of the work. In my professional work now, I'm getting really busy. I'm having to delegate or find other people to do what I did this year, putting on the mini-conferences. I guess the other one is, it looks like next year, probably late September, we were trying to not match any big conferences. We're going to have an in-person conference in Calgary, Alberta. Ron Micha's the organizer, and we're going to support him and help him out. More detail of that'll be coming out soon.
Jeff: It'd be a nice place to be in August.
Kim: Just to mention this here, on the WAS webpage, you have those mini-conferences. Although you didn't say it, I'm guessing they're virtual and because they're on your webpage, I can click and listen?
Etienne: They're all on our YouTube channel. If you do Western Apicultural Society, literally because I was just too busy trying to maintain a members-only page, I said enough already, I did an executive decision and I post them all on YouTube. I said, "It's free knowledge, everybody should know. That's our purpose, is nonprofit. Let's share the knowledge." There's some really good talks there. If you check our YouTube page, and if you've got ideas for other speakers, this year, Dr Dewey Caron and Melanie Kirby are going to be likely the key people in setting up the mini-conferences.
We'll probably do six to eight. If you have ideas for topics, don't hesitate to email us. Always looking for topics or good speakers so any help is much appreciated.
Kim: Jeff, we'll have all that on the show notes, right?
Jeff: You bet. We'll have Etienne's contact information and show notes in the show notes along within your website and any other information you want to provide for us. Etienne, it's been wonderful finally having you on the show and I'd like to have you back because there's a wealth of information we haven't even talked about, let alone just barely scratch the surface on. Thank you for joining us this afternoon.
Etienne: It was my pleasure.
Kim: Same here. I enjoyed listening to you and there are some things about wintering that I've been experimenting with, wondering about, and not having time to get to it. You make it sound easy. I'm sure that it's not, but it's certainly easier than what I've been doing and I can see next winter I'm going to be doing things a little bit differently.
Jeff: Thanks, Etienne for joining us today, and look forward to having you back at a future date.
Etienne: Sounds good. Just one last thing, the whole thing about installation, it's do or do not. There is no half. We can talk about that next time is a lot of folks use insulation and then they put extreme ventilation on it so it defeats the purpose. Now you have a closed space that is still consuming a lot of honey, generating a lot of moisture that they need to manage. It's that whole balancing thing. You don't need to insulate in all the places. I'd say just top insulation is key.
Kim: Okay. Good advice. Yes, we'll catch up with that when we get you back here. Thank you for being here today.
Jeff: Thank you, Etienne.
Etienne: Sounds good.
Jeff: I guess neither of us will complain about being cold from here on up.
Kim: [laughs] I don't know. You and I were talking earlier and we were wondering about the snow we've had here in Ohio right at the end of December, but we didn't have much snow on that storm that knocked the socks off in Buffalo, but we had minus 35 windshield. That's enough for me. I just assumed it'd come, stay for a day, and then go away. I couldn't imagine nine months of that.
Jeff: There's a lot to beekeeping in the Yukon and Naomi introduced us to it and one of the things I keep thinking about is not only the weather extremes and short days, long nights, and swapping them around, but also the black flies. There's so much to consider. My hats off to beekeepers of the Yukon area. It's a hard beekeeping existence up there.
Kim: I think it's just a hard place to live.
Jeff: Yes, absolutely
Kim: [chuckles] I was glad that he could come and visit with us today because wintering, a lot of the commercial people are turning towards indoor wintering. Therein lie some ventilation issues and temperature issues and atmospheric issues, circulation. Langstroth would have a hard time understanding what's going on in a beehive today. I think he had it figured out for his day, but it's changed a whole lot in the last even five years.
Jeff: I agree with you. In addition, I think he'd be widely accepting of it too because he was a scientific mind. I think he would approach it and say, "That makes a lot of sense guys. [laughs] Let's increase those board widths to two inches."
Kim: [laughs] Yes. Okay.
Jeff: That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast. Wherever you download and stream the show, your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture, a magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast.
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Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on the show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions that leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.
[00:44:44] [END OF AUDIO]
Etienne has a mechanical engineering background. He got his start in beekeeping with a geologist friend as part of mine reclamation project. The beekeeping was done after work hours. It was learn as they go operation as they were the only beekeepers in the area and Beekeeping for Dummies was their primary source of information.
He now lives in the Yukon Territory and has kept bees for the last 12 years in northern cold climates where he takes a very data driven approach to keeping his bees. He has collected data to understand the annual bee cycle, mapped out the bloom calendar along with the nectar and pollen flows. He loves everything to do with bees/native pollinators and continuously seeks to expand northern best practice beekeeping. His current focus is winter thermoregulation, bee nutrition and bee health. In 2021, he received CAP funding to conduct a Yukon honey origins projects to better understand Yukon/Boreal/Subarctic nectar sources (pollen analysis) as well as the local honey chemical characteristics (NMR).
Etienne is the current president of WAS – Western Apicultural Society.