This week we talk with professional bike racer, Maghalie Rochette, from Quebec, Canada. She is good. Really good. Maghalie came in 2nd in the Canadian National Championships, September, 2021; Is three-times Canadian Cyclocross Champion, three-times...
This week we talk with professional bike racer, Maghalie Rochette, from Quebec, Canada. She is good. Really good. Maghalie came in 2nd in the Canadian National Championships, September, 2021; Is three-times Canadian Cyclocross Champion, three-times Pan American Cyclocross Champion and a Cyclocross World Cup winner. She has her sights set on greater goals this season! But what, you may be asking, does this have to do with beekeeping? Good question!
We all know we beekeepers are a generally thought of as being a bit odd to most other people. Admittedly, most people think anyone who willingly puts their bare hands into a box of thousands of stinging insects, is, let’s say, eccentric. That distinction is something we also wear as a badge of distinction and honor. We we see the beauty in the honey bee and the hive.
So Kim and Jeff thought, let’s turn this back on itself. Who are the beekeepers who you would never guess are beekeepers? Recently, they talked with the NYPD Official Beekeepers, Darren Mays. He wears a badge and pistol along with his smoker and hive tool.
Today’s guest, Maghalie is paid to ride bikes fast and she wears lycra to work. Not your typical beekeeper. Listen to today’s episode to learn how beekeeping and bike racing are actually quite complementary.
Anyone can be a beekeeper!
We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.
Thank you for listening!
Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:
We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. Betterbee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer service, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, Betterbee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com
This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help ensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode!
Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!
Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com
We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.
We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: email@example.com
Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com
Thank you for listening!
Podcast music: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott
Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jeff: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news information and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.
Kim: I'm Kim Flottum.
Global Patties: Hey Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.
Now is a great time to consider what type of Patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta, and in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.
Jeff: Thanks Sherry and thank you global patties. Each week, we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor's support. We know you'd rather we get right to talking about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen, from the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode.
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Hey everybody, thanks again for joining us today. We have a good show all set with pro cyclist and beekeeper Maghalie Rochette but more on that in just a few. I hope your summer's starting out well. It's definitely been raining and cool in the Pacific Northwest, but the bees are making out of their hives, some forging and unfortunately, some en masse as part of the swarm. I caught one of them. The other is interesting and it just happened a week ago or so. I didn't even know it happened until about five days had passed.
The other day, I was out in the bee yard, watching the comings and goings of the high entrances. You can tell a lot just by observing. One colony did not show as much activity as the others. Something obviously unusual was going on. They had been like the others, but I didn't have time to open it up at that time. Later in the day, I did look at the hive's temperature history online. I have those sensors in all of my colonies. Looking at the past seven days, the colony was effectively maintaining brood temps at nearly 94 degrees. That's about 34 degrees Celsius in the lower hive body.
Then between 1:30 and 2:00 PM, there was a definite spike increase of about four degrees. Then a drop in brew box temperature. After that, the lower box temperature fluctuated on a daily cycle from a low of 84 degrees at night to 94 during the day. They had definitely swarmed in Memorial day. I'll put a link to my online view of my colonies in the show notes so you can also see that sudden spike in temperature variation after the swarm.
Well, I miss that swarm. I have no idea where they went and honestly, it's just as good because I don't have any empty equipment at this time anyways. I guess I may have been able to put something together for a short bit, but it just wasn't meant to be, and good luck to them. I will chalk it up to yet another colony that started with a nuc that probably had last year's queen and was all set to prime to swarm this spring. I don't think I'll get nucs next time I need to buy bees in the spring.
I had to think about how I missed that swarm. Memorial day was relatively nice, which does explain the swarm on that day. After all, two days of rain followed by a nice day is the standing definition of a weekend here. As I think about it, I was out on my bicycle putting in some miles. If I'm not behind a computer working on something like I am at this moment and I have free time, I'm either in the bee yard or out on the bike. Why, you may be asking yourself, is this guy carrying on all about bikes? This is a beekeeping podcast for crying out loud. Well, it is, it really is.
There are beekeepers with all types of backgrounds, histories, and careers. That, my friends, brings us to this week's guest, Maghalie Rochette. Maghalie is a professional bike racer. She gets paid to train and race her bike. She has sponsors who pay her to wear their clothing, to ride their brand of bike, to use their wheels or their tires, to use their brand of gear, no matter what it is, even the sunglasses and she's a beekeeper.
Your mental picture of who is a beekeeper probably does not include someone who wears biker shorts and a Jersey to work. We know and I'm using the term we as in we beekeepers know that we are a bit strange. The general population typically classifies individuals who love insects and are willing to stick their hands into a box of 40 to 60,000 stinging insects as being maybe a half bubble off plumb. That is something we also wear as a badge of distinction of individual individuality. That's okay.
Kim and I are spinning this around on its ear and looking at it from the other direction. Who are the beekeepers we wouldn't typically think are beekeepers? Last week, we had a New York City police officer who was not only a beekeeper but the official beekeeper at the NYPD.
This week, we're talking to a professional bike racer and we're looking for others. Do you know anyone who fits this description and would be a good guest? Let us know in the comments of this episode or send us an email, preferably with contact information. Now, this is important. Before you fill the inbox with names like Beyoncé, Morgan Freeman, Flea, or Leonardo DiCaprio, don't send us those folks as suggestions, unless you know them. You know people who know people or well, you happen to be Beyoncé, Morgan, Flea, or Leo and want to join us as an episode.
Well, really seriously if you are listening to the show and you're one of those folks or others, let us know. Watch this space for future episodes of beekeepers who you wouldn't think are beekeepers. Subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss even one show like I missed that swarm this week. Okay. Now let's get on with this week's guest, Maghalie Rochette but first, a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials, who've just released a new probiotic that can be fed in syrup, in a patty, or even dry, Super DFM extend. You can find more information on their website.
StrongMicrobials: Hey beekeepers, many times during the year, honeybees encounter scarcity of floral sources. As good beekeepers, we feed our bees artificial diets, have protein and carbohydrates to keep them going during those stressful times. What is missing though are key components, the good microbes necessary for a bee to digest the food and convert it into metabolic energy.
Only Super DFM honeybee by Strong Microbials can provide the necessary microbes to optimally convert the artificial diet into energy necessary for improving longevity, reproduction, immunity, and much more. Super DFM Honeybee is an all-natural probiotic supplement for your honeybees. Find it at strongmicrobials.com or at fine bee supply stores everywhere.
Jeff: Hey, thanks a lot Strong Microbial. 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 information. Everybody, welcome back to the show. Sitting across the virtual Beekeeping Today Podcast table is pro cyclist Maghalie Rochette. Rochette. Sorry, I always mess up the names Maghalie, it's just become a thing. I apologize. Maghalie is joining us to, we're just talking to people you wouldn't expect to be beekeepers. Anyone can be a beekeeper and Maghalie is another person who proves that. Maghalie, welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast.
Maghalie: Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I'm a big fan of beekeepers and so being a very amateur beekeeper myself, it's very cool to be on the show so thank you for inviting me.
Kim: Well, Maghalie, I have to admit, I have never met a professional bicycle racer so you are the first in my experience. I could have a hundred questions about that, but that isn't what we're talking about today, but it's very interesting and you're the first.
Jeff: We can branch into professional cycling and cycling in general, just to give our listeners who may be like you, Kim who really don't understand what pro cycling is about, and just maybe a high level, 10,000-foot level view of what do you do on a day to day basis, Maghalie. I think that would be interesting.
Maghalie: Yes, that's a good question. I think though, first of all, to go back to what Kim was saying, I think in a way it's very, it can sound very different from being a professional beekeeper but I think it's actually very similar in a sense that it's a passion job, you do that because you've always, for me, I've always loved cycling. It's the thing I love the most. Now I get to do it as a job.
What was once a hobby is now a job, so it's very much rooted in passion, which I believe is probably the same thing as for you as a professional beekeeper. Now, what I do on a day-to-day basis, I ride my bike and I train so really what a week looks like is basically my body is my tool to perform. I have to be fit and strong and I spend all my time trying to become fit and strong. I train many hours on a bicycle, usually around 20 to 25 hours of pedaling and training every week but then, you don't get paid for just riding and training. Being a professional means that you're earning a salary doing this and to do that, and you have to compete at the highest level.
I traveled around the world to compete in bike races, so whether it's world cups or world championships, I go where the highest level of racing is and race there, follow circuits that way. You can just-- It's fun. My goal is to see how good I can be amongst the best in the world and how far I can go that way. It's pretty fun. Another side job, I guess, is we represent cycling.
We try to make cycling, we try to in an authentic way or just sharing the positivity of riding bicycle basically. By meeting people in the community or sometimes organizing ride, just connecting with the fans of cycling to just spread the love of cycling and we work with companies that help us do that as well. It's pretty fun. It's based on trying to perform but also sharing the love of cycling.
Kim: Jeff, I have to tell you, I have not been on a bicycle in 33 years.
Jeff: Kim, you're missing it.
Kim: Everybody says that it's like riding a bicycle. Once you learn, you never forget. I would be, I think, a little hesitant to try.
Kim: I think it'd probably be painful.
Maghalie: Well, that's the thing about cycling, I think getting back into running can be painful because it's a weight-bearing exercise but cycling, there are two things I'll say about that. I guess, cycling, you can go as easy or as slow as you want and just move the pedals slowly.
If you're enjoying it, then slowly increase the speed but it's not as hard to get back into than running for example. The other thing is nowadays with technologies, there are a lot of electric bikes, so e-bikes, they're called, and those are actually awesome. I have one for commuting at home to go like to the market and stuff. Even if my job is to pedal a real bike, I'm fit enough to pedal a real bike, but the e-bikes are really fun and they're very accessible and they allow you to just get back into cycling and maybe more accessible way, really, so maybe that's an option if that's interesting to you.
Kim: [laughs] Well, I'll certainly put it under consideration.
Jeff: Ask Santa Claus for this coming year. Maghalie, I wanted to ask you there's different types of bike racing. What type of bike, what kind of racing do you do?
Maghalie: Yes. The racing that I do is two things, mostly the main discipline that I do is called Cyclo-cross and many people won't know what that is, but it's very popular in Europe and an easy way to describe it would be that it's something between mountain biking and road biking. The bike looks like a road bike but it has knobby tires on it.
The courses that we race on, it's like an obstacle race on a bike. We ride in parks and then sometimes there can be mud or sand, and we can even encounter some stairs that you have to jump off the bike and run with the bike and get back on. That's one type of racing that I do. The other one is mountain biking so cross country mountain biking. I don't know if you're more familiar with that but this is like more in trails and you go up and down mountains. That's mainly what I do. Of course, I train on the road as well, but those are the two disciplines that I prefer.
Jeff: I think most people think of bicycle racing as the traditional road racing but it does and track racing of course but the Cyclo-cross is lesser-known and mountain biking is popular because you see the bikes everywhere. That's very cool. Thanks so much. That sounds like a very stressful job at times and not only the travel because I travel for work at times and travel, as much as people like to think it's fun, as a job, it's stressful. That brings me back around to thinking about the bees. Just talk about how the bees help you in your job and if they do and then anyway, let's start at the very beginning and how you got started in bees.
Maghalie: Yes. How I got started is actually one of my teammates on my previous cycling team, she invited me to her house and I knew she had bees but I wasn't very familiar at all with it. When I visited her at her house, she had a manipulation to do on bees and she said, do you want to come and check it out and see what it looks like?
I put on a suit and I was really curious to see what it was like. For me, when she opened a hive and I got to see all the bees inside, and I just think it's so beautiful what it looks like and seeing them work and getting to see like, yes, just the inside of the hive. Maybe you're not supposed to do that but she gave me a little piece of the honeycomb to see what it looked like and I bit in it, I was blown away.
I thought this was the coolest thing ever. Then on top of that, she was explaining to me the maneuver that she was doing and why, and I got to understand just how smart the bees are and just how organized the colony is. I thought this was fascinating. That year, my husband and I decided to have our own bees and start to learn about it. That's how I got into it. Thank you to that teammate.
Maghalie: Yes, as you said, it is-- I don't want to say my job is stressful because we're not saving lives or anything. This is a very personal pursuit but the one thing about being professional cycling is that absolutely everything that you do in life, since your body is your tool for work, every single thing that you do has an impact on how you will perform.
It's constantly on your mind whether what you're eating, all the activities that you're doing can affect your performance, so you always think about it. In that way, it can be a little bit stressful, and absolutely, beekeeping is relaxing to me because it's a moment when I'm just home and I don't really need to think about cycling and I can just dive into this and get interested in what someone else is doing and not what I'm doing. I can pay attention and learn from the bees. Yes, for me, that's absolutely relaxing and I just love it. It's so fun.
Jeff: That's very good. We've introduced your cyclist, you got into bees, we neglected to ask, where are you located?
Maghalie: Yes, so I live in Canada in the French-speaking part of Canada. The province of Quebec and if anyone is familiar with the city of Montreal, I'm about 45 minutes North of Montreal.
Jeff: It's still, you get pretty good winters there.
Maghalie: Yes. We'd get huge winters.
Jeff: Definitely four seasons of beekeeping.
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Jeff: Get ahead of your Varroa problem today at betterbee.com.
Kim: What we heard this year, there's been a lot of information coming from your part of the world about your last winter being so hard on the bees. What have you heard and do they have any thoughts on what was going on, why this happened this year?
Maghalie: Yes, so let's start by saying how I love the bees and I love beekeeping but I'm not a professional, so I'm 100% amateur. Don't take anything that I'm saying for granted. It has been a really difficult winter. We've had hives, we've had three hives for the last four years. In all those years, we had lost one hive once and now this year, we've actually lost the three of them. Clearly, something happened.
From what I'm hearing around with people that I'm talking to, I think what happened is that this year and it's probably due to climate change, but this year, at some point in February, there were two days that were much warmer than normal that went above zero and like really warm. I think maybe the bee saw it as spring that was arriving.
Then instantly, the next day, it got like below 20 or something. I think that caught some bees off guard that maybe like went out of the hives and weren't able to come back because it got too cold. Then the colony inside got too small, wasn't able to keep the heat, and then just died. That's what I've heard. As I said, I'm not a professional, I'm not a scientific so I don't know if that is the only thing. It might be multiple factors that just together ended up being a bad year, but yes it's super sad. What have you guys heard? What do you think it could be? How was it in Ohio, was it a similar kind of situation?
Kim: Ohio winters, I'm going to say it was fairly typical this year. Not terrible and not easy just sort of regular Ohio winter and Ohio winters aren't the nicest there is. There were some been some problems. I've had some problems with bees. I've lost some this year and I'm not going to say I've never lost bees because I've been doing this way too long to know and you'd know better. You wouldn't believe me anyway if I said I've never lost bees anyway.
Jeff: I'd call you on that one.
Kim: I'm pretty sure you would. Our winter here this year was, I'm going to say average. If I said we probably lost is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30% to 40% of the bees in this part of Ohio this last winter, and for the last several years, that's about average which is terrible, but that's been about average and it's primarily due to stresses from mites and viruses is why we see it. We don't get treatments on in time, or we don't get them on at all. As a result, when bees go into that brutalist period in the fall, then the mites just kind of take over.
Anyway, like I said, that's what we've been hearing from pretty much all over Canada this year that you had a winter that you wish you could have avoided. Let me branch off for a second here, where you live in Canada, you are primarily suburban, rural, urban, what's your apiary like?
Maghalie: It's mostly rural. We live on a side of a ski hill, which in the summer is nothing. It's just wildflowers that grow on it. Then there's a forest around us as well so pretty rural, I would say.
Kim: It sounds like you're fairly isolated from other beekeepers.
Maghalie: Yes. To be honest, I don't even know if there are, I'm sure they are, but just small like we are, I think around the village probably but I'm not even familiar if there are many others around here.
Kim: Being next to a commercial or a large hobby org operations can be an issue if their treatment schedule is different than yours. That was one of the things I was wondering, but--
Maghalie: Oh, interesting.
Kim: Yes. I got to ask. There's a lot of professional athletes. I don't know a lot of professional athletes, but I've heard of this that a big bite of honey right before the game helps energy and all of those things and now you've got your own honey to use. Do you take a big helping of honey before you take off on one of your races?
Maghalie: You're right. Honey would be great before training or even during training because you want like those fast sugars that will make you fast and give you quick energy. I wouldn't say that I carry a jar of honey with me when I'm riding. However, I do eat it almost every morning before I go for training. Yes, this is something that I use and it's really cool knowing where it comes from, knowing that it's just natural and there's nothing, no fake sugar or anything in it. It is really nice and it tastes good.
Jeff: Oh, yes. I need to ask you on the same thought on honey and I'm very familiar with the road rash. Have you ever used a honey poultice, a bandage wrap, put honey on the road rash, put a bandage over it, and worked it that way.
Maghalie: I've never done that. Is that something that's typically worked? Is that something that you guys do?
Jeff: Yes. Actually, honey is used widely in treating diabetic ulcer wounds and burns. There's even some commercial products where honey is the primary application or primary product of the wrap. Yes.
Maghalie: Very cool. I had no idea, but I do get a lot of road rashes. I'll absolutely try it. That's really interesting.
Jeff: Yes. There's a lot of research. It's not fake science. There's a lot of positive research about the osmotic effects of honey and treatment of wounds.
Maghalie: Very cool.
Kim: The antibiotic effects of the pH and all of those things so yes. It can be very beneficial for those kinds of wounds. I can honestly say I've never had road rash so I'm going on.
Maghalie: Good for you.
Jeff: Yes. I would suggest avoiding it too, Kim.
Kim: Do you eat all the honey that you produce, Maghalie?
Maghalie: We eat quite a bit but we give it away to friends really. I just think it's fun to share it with people around us and yes. We don't eat at all, but we give away quite a lot. We even bring it on to races sometimes to give it to people outside of our region. Yes, it's a fun thing or to exchange it with people that have hives somewhere else in the country or in other country, and then you can taste the difference. I think that's really fascinating always.
Kim: Something I never, I was listening to you thinking about this, could you as you're in your race have a 12 ounces bear with a spout and take a sip of honey during your race. Is that allowed?
Maghalie: It is allowed. Yes. You're allowed to carry some usually like what's popular is they have gels, so they're packet gels and basically it could be honey. It's just like a syrupy sugar basically that you can eat. The advantage of taking dose is the package that is very convenient, but yes, I could decide to make my own and use honey. It would work.
Kim: I have to say this, Jeff there's food for thought.
Jeff: We'll allow you that one, Kim. That's good. I was thinking about your bees, your winter losses, when you got into them this spring, did you take a look at the layout of your bees, and did they have a lot of honey, were they left in the hive, or was it completely bare? Were there any dead bees inside? What did you find?
Maghalie: Yes, so the first time that we lost the hive like a few years ago, that was our mistake. We've started having bees with absolutely no knowledge at all. We just read books and all. The first time we lost the hive, we had three hives and one of them was bigger, just a bigger colony than the others. We were so amateur, we didn't think about it. We fed them the same thing. We left the same amount of honey for all the hives.
This one, unfortunately since the colony was bigger, didn't have enough to survive the winter. The two others did and this one didn't. We felt really bad but we noticed right away when we opened the hive in the spring because you could see. It was so sad to see, but you could see that the bees had died. There was nothing left and they were trying to find food in the honeycombs. This was not the case this time.
There were still bees, it seems like there were less than before than a normal colony. It's really difficult just because I don't have much knowledge so it's hard to compare. I just know that it did not look at all the same way that it seemed that there was still some sugar left inside. Yes, I wish I could tell you, but it's hard for me to say.
There's like a forum from the people from the region like sharing what they've seen and what their opinion is. I'm still following that closely because here, some people are still opening the hives now. There was still snow like two weeks ago, so they're still at that stage, but yes, hopefully we'll learn more by comparing with what I see from others online in the next couple of days, weeks. What do you guys think it could be just at mites, really?
Kim: I'll make this offer. When you open it, if you want to take a couple of pictures and send them to me, I'll be happy to look. How's that?
Maghalie: Yes, no that's good because we actually like they've been open but we didn't do anything with them. They're still in the backyard. I think from what I've heard, we might need to burn some of their frames just because it rot a little bit, but it's still there, I will take photos and share it for you. That would be great.
Kim: Before you start burning, I suspect you didn't have American foulbrood, but that's only a suspicion.
Kim: If I was going to guess what was going on, your mite treatment program last fall, what did you do last summer and fall?
Maghalie: We did, God. We did the same that we had done the years before, but we did the Varroa mite treatment. With the, what is it called, acid, folic--
Jeff: Oxalic acid?
Maghalie: Exactly. We did that. I think we did some treatments after the first harvest so that we did the treatments in the summer, and then we did the treatments again in the fall. Then we fed them with some sugar mixed with Apple cider vinegar, that little mixture. We fed them and then we had to leave for some races at the end of October. We fed them before that. Then we wrapped them up at the end of October and left. We had done that the year before and they all survived, but maybe our protocol wasn't good. Like what do you think?
Kim: I'm guessing, without a little more information and being able to look, Jeff, I would-- The other thing mainly is, do you do mite test? Do you sample your bees for mites using the wash?
Jeff: The wash or sugar shake.
Maghalie: I've heard of that. I've never done it. What we've done is like counting on the drawer, cleaning the drawer and then leaving it for a few days, and then counting the mites per square. I've done that, but I don't know how precise it is, but I've heard about that where you put about 100 bees and then you wash them and you count how many mites that are left. Is that more precise?
Kim: That's going to be more precise and it's going to be something you're going to want to think a lot about this year.
Maghalie: Yes, because I think the treatments are based on the number of mites, right? That's what I had read. I based the number of treatments that I had to do based on the count I did, but maybe my count was off.
Jeff: The natural mite drop on an inspection board is typically much lower than the actual infestation.
Maghalie: Okay. Maybe I didn't treat enough.
Jeff: Yes. I'm with Kim, my first suspect if I can speak for what I suspect Kim's thought is, but it's probably due to Varroa and Varroa related disease, more than any one other specific thing, and that seems to be the case throughout the country, United States and Canada, in many cases, just the Varroa are just really, really hard on the bees this last winter.
Maghalie: Why do you think, in a particular winter, they could be harder this year than they were in the previous year?
Jeff: I think it's just happenstance. I think it just depends on the particular colony's ability to recover from the Varroa and their resistance, and climate, how often the bees can get out, and also the treatment protocols prior to going into the fall. I think the three things can add up against the bee, beekeeper, and the colony. Queen strength is another thing. If you had an older queen going into the winter, whereas the prior years, you had younger Queens and they're just able to produce healthier offspring in the fall going into it. It's just all adds into--
Kim: Take your pick.
Jeff: Yes. It's never just one, but it's always just like the straw that broke the camel back.
Maghalie: Yes. It's so hard, but isn't that what keeps it interesting for someone like you, Kim, just the fact that you can never really know what nature's going to do, so you always have to, it keeps you on your toes. Is that something that keeps you going, trying to learn more and more every year?
Kim: Well, after this many years, sometimes nature yelling, "Surprise," gets old, but yes, trying to figure out what they're doing and what they're going to do next is a great part of the attraction for me.
Jeff: Yes. I'm tired of Varroa. Like Kim, not as long ago, but I started beekeeping before varroa, I still have memories of those days when you didn't have to worry about treating for Varroa. The bees were just healthy through the winter and all you had to do was provide a wrap and, and get them through and enough food and they'd be healthy and strong in the next spring. The Queens were strong and they lived for years and the grass was green and the sky blue.
Maghalie: Yes. That is fun.
Jeff: In the good old days but no, I that's what that would be my guess, Maghalie, is Varroa, just were-
Maghalie: Too strong.
Jeff: - overwhelmed the bees this last year.
Maghalie: Can I ask maybe that's an amateur question, but does every country have to deal with varroa, or is that something that where I don't know. Is it everywhere?
Kim: Everywhere, but Australia.
Jeff: Well, Australia and New Brunswick.
Jeff: Newfoundland, Newfoundland. Which one's the island? Newfoundland.
Maghalie: Newfoundland. Yes?
Jeff: Yes. They don't have Varroa. We talked to, I don't know where off the top of my head, but we talked to, we had a guest on a year and a half ago or so, and he was from Newfoundland and he was in charge of keeping Newfoundland Varroa-free. In Australia, Varroa free Kim, and New Zealand, I think is New Zealand.
Kim: I should know this and I don't. I don't think they're Varroa free, but don't hold me to that. I don't want to offend anybody in New Zealand.
Maghalie: Okay. It came from climate change story, those are such a basic question for you guys, so you probably have covered in all episodes, but how did they come, like Varroa? Is it a climate change situation or something else?
Kim: They were generously imported by somebody from, their original place was over in Indonesia, that part of the world, and Queens and bees got brought, have been spread all over.
Kim: People think that they've found the perfect queen, bring it to the United States along with three or four varroa and suddenly, you've got it. It was discovered and I want to say what Jeff, '84, '85.
Jeff: Yes. It was mid-eighties in Florida. Wasn't it?
Kim: Well, they found it was Wisconsin, but Wisconsin brought it up from Florida.
Jeff: Bees from Florida and the rest, as they say, is history.
Maghalie: Yes. Unfortunately.
Jeff: There's was a breed of bee in central Asia, the Apis cerana, that the Varroa is a natural host or the bee is a natural host for the Varroa and they've learned to coexist, but for the Western honey bee, the Varroa is an unnatural mite and that they haven't learned to live with each other. The Varroa tends up being a true parasite in killing the host. It's not a good situation.
Kim: Maghalie, I'm going to switch gears here completely-
Kim: - again because I just have no idea about professional bike racing. How long have you been doing this? On average, how long will you be able to do this? Professional football players and baseball players run out of steam at some point in their life, how is it for bikers?
Maghalie: I started riding when I was probably seven or eight years old, but professionally, I've been doing it since I was 19 years old. That was when I signed my first contract. I'm now 29 and there are some people in the Peloton that go all the way until 40-ish, maybe I can go for another 10 years, but I would say on average maybe at between 35 and 40 is when people start to retire normally. I still have a few years if I want to.
Jeff: That's good.
Maghalie: Yes, but nothing gets-- some girls, some women are actually really strong as they get older but there's just that, your body has more injuries and stuff that are harder to keep up with. It doesn't get easier with age, but some people do get stronger and the other thing is that you gain experience. You're much smarter in the decision you make and racing has a lot of tactics going on. If you are an experienced rider, usually you can do better with less energy sometimes just because you use your energy and your effort in a smarter way. That's the positive about getting older.
Kim: That's the only one I've ever heard I think.
Jeff: Maghalie, besides the professional racing that you're doing, the cycle racing, Cyclo-cross racing, you also have a podcast. You want to talk a little bit about your podcast that you host as well?
Maghalie: Yes, sure. The podcast it's called Fever Talk. Fever for me, it's like my way of describing my passion for things. I have fever when we opened the hive actually and I get to see what's happening. I get fever when I'm riding a really fun cyclo-cross course. That's how I describe it. I just basically like to talk with people that are passionate in, yes, some people in cycling, but some people that are passionate about other things that they do. I just love to learn about these people.
It's very simple, but it's just fun conversation with passionate people trying to learn. Sometimes see similarities with cycling, sometimes just completely dive in their own world so I can learn. Just I'm a curious person in general. I love to learn about people. I think passionate people, they know a lot about their craft, so it's fun to dig in and get to know more.
Jeff: Pretty good. Where can people listen to your podcast?
Maghalie: It's called Fever Talk, so wherever you find podcast. It's on Apple Podcast and Spotify and all of those other platforms.
Jeff: Really good. We'll have a link to your show and to your website in our show notes so folks can-
Maghalie: Oh, thank you.
Jeff: - check out your podcast and your cycling history. Is there anything that we haven't asked you that you would like to talk about?
Maghalie: Not really. I guess, maybe one thing since we talked about the fact that anybody can be a beekeeper. Now, it sounds bad because my three hives died, but we still had them for four years. I guess all I want to say is that I knew nothing when I started and my husband either, but we still decided to go for it. We learned as we go. It's been really, not only, mostly successful, but I think it's been fascinating.
Every year, we've learned more. Every time we opened the hive, we were understanding a little bit more what we were seeing. That, for me, was a fascinating and addictive feeling. I would see something and understand, and then I'd go read, and I understand more.
Then the next time I opened, I could see the evolution, and then try to see, as much as the first few times we opened it and we had absolutely no clue what we were looking at, as time went on, we were able to see a little bit more, "Okay, what can we do to help them?" By understanding what we're seeing, what can we do to help them? Then having conversation with people to understand more. It's just been absolutely, yes, enriching and stimulating to do.
I think even though you don't know anything, if you have an interest and some time to invest, I think it's worth it, and you end up knowing a little bit more. Even on top of that, I think the impact it had on the property where we live, when we moved there, there was nothing. Everything was mostly dead. It was an old house that we bought again. When we had bees, suddenly, we started having flowers, butterflies, birds that came.
The whole ecosystem around the house, it's like a tiny ecosystem, but everything changed completely. That was just so cool. I think all of that, it just made us live so many cool things that if I had just been scared of trying because I didn't know about it, I would've missed out, I think. I think if you're hesitating because you don't know about it, just go for it and you'll learn as you go. I think that's just the one thing that for me has been a good lesson that I can apply in other things in life, I felt.
Jeff: Very good. I think that's a great summary of beekeeping.
Kim: That's a nice summary, yes.
Jeff: Very much so.
Kim: Well done.
Maghalie: Thanks. It's fun. It's also humbling to start something that you don't know anything about, but it's quite fun. It's fun to learn about people like the both of you who just know so much about it. Yes, it's very, very cool.
Jeff: Thank you. It's been a great pleasure having you on the show and look forward to hearing more about you, your successes in beekeeping, and your successes on the race course.
Maghalie: Thank you. Thank you so much for having us. We do have some races in Ohio sometimes or in Wisconsin, which is not too far, so maybe one day I could go see your apiary, Kim, [chuckles] if it's not too far.
Kim: The door is always open.
Maghalie: Oh, thank you, that'd be fun.
Kim: One quick question before we go, when and where is your next race?
Maghalie: Oh, the next one? The next one is in Quebec, actually, not too far from here next week. It's called Baie-Saint-Paul in the Charlevoix region, so not too far from here. The ones that are in the Midwest, those are coming in October. I'll be in the Midwest in October.
Kim: All right. Good luck on your next and all the rest of your races.
Maghalie: Thank you so much.
Jeff: Maghalie, next time you talk to the folks at Rapha, just drop the idea about the Rapha-branded beekeeping suit. It would go over well, I'm sure.
Maghalie: Amazing. Let's ask your guest who would be in. Then if we have enough interest, maybe they go for it. [chuckles]
Jeff: [chuckles] That's right.
Maghalie: They are very open. They love ideas so maybe.
Jeff: Yes. [chuckles] All right.
Maghalie: All right, thank you. [chuckles]
Jeff: Thanks a lot, Maghalie. Take care.
Maghalie: You as well.
Jeff: Are you ready to go out and buy a bike, Kim?
Kim: Not on your life, Jeff, or mine.
Jeff: Come on, I have biked in Medina County. It's a good place to bike.
Kim: No, I'll watch, how is that? One of the things that Maghalie was talking about was getting older and how things get harder. I appreciate that more than you will ever know. I'll watch, and I'll let you do the biking. She was a joy. That was really fun. Something I have no idea of how it worked, and she opened my eyes a little bit to professional bike racing and beekeeping. Thanks for inviting her.
Jeff: Yes. To our listeners, this is something that Kim and I are looking to do is to find people that you wouldn't think as being beekeepers who are beekeepers. We have Maghalie today. We've recently had Darren Mays on who's a New York City Police Department officer who liked beekeeping, got into beekeeping, was a police officer. They found out that he liked bees, and he became the official New York City Department official beekeeper. If you haven't heard that episode, look it up. It just came out recently.
If you know of anybody who's a fascinating person who keeps bees, let us know. We're going to try to do this about once every once in a while when we can find guests who are willing to talk to us about it and share their story with you our listeners. Thanks. Yes, it was fun. Thanks, Maghalie.
Kim: It was, good.
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 this 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, the magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor, Global Patties. Check them out at globalpatties.com. Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Betterbee for their longtime support. Check out all of their great beekeeping supplies at betterbee.com.
Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of bee books, old, new with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk. 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.
[00:48:35] [END OF AUDIO]
Professional cyclist from Canada. 3x Canadian Cyclocross National Champion, 3x PanAmerican Champion.
Beginner Amateur Beekeeper
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