This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bees on Goldenrod

Now my bees are on the goldenrod. Maybe the heat and humidity has made the plant more interesting. Photos by W Kloek

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Time to Pull and Extract

The nectar flow appears to have run its course. My bees are still in robbing mode. If there is any uncovered honey or syrup around, the bees find it and are after it in big numbers. When bees display this robbing behavior, the nectar flow has usually stopped or has ended.
 The upcoming week will be hot and humid. Pulling honey with fume boards works very well in hot weather. The bees leave the supers very quickly.
 If no queen excluders were used on the hive and there is some brood in the supers. The bees will not leave the brood with a fume board or a bee escape. The only way to get the bees off the frames is with a bee brush.
 If supers are pulled in the humid weather, the supers should be put in a room with a dehumidifier and a fan running. If the supers are placed in a large area, like an open basement, plastic tarps should be put up to make a temporary room so the dehumidifier would work more efficiently.
 I usually pull my honey then leave it in my honey house with a dehumidifier for at least a week before I extract. The dehumidifier will help get the moisture of the honey down to US Grade A level, which is 18.6% water content or less. It is easier to get the water content lower now, before you extract, than after it is after the honey is in a pail.
 I do check beekeepers honey with a refractometer to see what their moisture level is. This is a free service I do for my customers. Bring me or mail me a small sample, but fill the container with honey. I only need a thimble full sample. So a small vial works well. A full honey jar is ok also.
Honey that is not US Grade A will ferment with time.
This is the scale in a refractometer. This honey sample was reading 19.3%

Atago Refractometer

 A note about small hive beetle
Beekeepers who purchased their bees from Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Texas. Have to be careful if your hive has small hive beetle. If the beetles are in your supers and no bees to stop them, the beetle may start laying and beetle larvae can quickly spread. I have heard to prevent this, the beekeeper needs to get the room with the supers down to a relative humidity of 40%.
 Speaking of hive beetle. I had a beekeeper that had his bees near a beekeeper that got his bees from Louisiana. The beekeeper had his hive infested with beetles from his neighbor. Small hive beetle can fly up to 20 miles. If a hive is weak it can be very susceptible to beetle activity. In this case, the beetles got so bad that his bees absconded.
 Once the ground temperature reach 54 degrees the beetles can no longer pupate in the soil. Refrigerator temperatures kills the beetle in all stages. Beetles can live in the bee cluster throughout the winter. Strong colonies of bees will keep the beetle in check.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Oxalic Acid

Oxalic Acid is a recently approved mite treatment for Varroa Destructor. Oxalic Acid is a late October mite treatment used when no brood is present in the hive.
The mite treatment calander goes like this:
 Treat for Varroa in August or early Sept. Use Miteaway Quick Strips, ApiGuard or ApiVar strips. These mite treatments have good results. Then in late October treat with Oxalic Acid. The late treatment will kill any mites that have reinfested the hive during the robbing period of September and early October. When bees try to rob honey during those times, mites can hop off the robber bees and then reinfest your treated colonies and you may get a high level of mites again.
 If you wait to treat past the August to early September treatment window the bees will be getting damaged by Varroa. The longer you wait to treat, the more damage Varroa does to the bees. Waiting to treat in October, your bees may be so far gone they will die over the course of the winter.
How to apply Oxalic Acid. This is a great article from Randy Oliver at his website: Oxalic Acid Dribble Method
 Randy's bees are in California so after reading his article you need to form your own conclusions of how effective it would be in northern climates.
 The dribble method may not be an option if it is cold in late October. You may not to want to get your bees wet.
The other method is the Vaporizer Method.

Nature's Nectar LLC does now carry the Varrox Vaporizers. The vaporizers are widely used in Europe. The following video is put out by the Varrox manufacturer. Double click on the video for full screen.

Varrox Vaporizer

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed is blooming around the metro. A pollinator and honeybee favorite.
I have seen it blooming on the Brown Creek State Trail in Stillwater
Joe Pye Weed photo by D. Ulvenes

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Goldenrod the last flow?

Goldenrod is blooming around the metro area. I am not sure if there is a flow there or not. I see my bees have robbing behavior and not really on any Goldenrod. Robbing behavior happens when there is no nectar flow. Maybe as the week progresses the Goldenrod will still produce some nectar. Maybe the Goldenrod is producing nectar in your locale.
 You know if you are getting Goldenrod honey if the hive has an odor of wet sweat socks. The odor is temporary, as soon as the honey ripens the wet sweat sock odor goes away.
 This nectar flow is the last major flow of the season, The only other big possible flow a beekeeper may get is an uncut alfalfa field.